Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni are no longer selling.
They don’t ask for time. They don’t seek your approval. They are confident. Arrogant, even. They have a very good team, it’s ready to win, it’s deep, and they know it.
In the two years since the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, Howie’s pride was suffocating. Then the Birds missed the playoffs in 2020. Carson Wentz forced Roseman to fire coach Doug Pederson. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie hired no one to replace Pederson, but Wentz forced a bad trade anyway. All of this fostered a certain humility in Roseman. As such, Lurie endorsed and empowered him, and Roseman begged the audience for patience.
The person Lurie hired was Sirianni, Frank Reich’s figurehead offensive coordinator who had never even called plays. Sirianni was dripping with charisma, if not credentials. As such, he has spent the past calendar year, in plaintive tones, manufacturing a personality – playing childish games with prospects, comparing his list to a flower garden and insisting, despite plenty of evidence. on the contrary, on the fact that Jalen Hurts can be a winning quarterback in the NFL.
Howie no longer pleads and Nick no longer invents. It was the biggest takeaway from their post-cutoff press conference last week.
They have the deepest and most talented team in the NFC East. They should make some noise in the playoffs. And they know it.
With genuine assurance, Roseman and Sirianni acted like they didn’t sneak into the 2021 playoffs and got blasted by a 44-year-old plastic surgery addict in Tampa. Instead, they acted like a confident, professional general manager and coach.
With reason. They have horses.
A better stable: The obvious improvements are only part of the reason for their certainty.
Roseman landed free agent Haason Reddick when bidding began in March. He traded for receiver AJ Brown on draft night and gave him a $100 million contract in April. He signed Giants salary cap victim James Bradberry to run in tandem with cornerback Darius Slay in May. He traded Chauncey Gardner-Johnson for Saints nickel last week to fill a talent void at safety.
But those moves won’t mean much unless the supporting cast can actually back it up. This one can.
This is how great teams are formed. That’s why the coach and his boss believe in it so much. They’ve strategized and they’ve played around a bit, and they believe the bets will pay off.
Auxiliary left tackle Andre Dillard has grown. He’s injured at the moment, but a broken forearm suffered last week probably won’t even cost him half a season, and third-year backup guard Jack Driscoll is almost as good at tackle as Dillard. . Rookie center Cam Jurgens arrived better than expected. They dropped a top linebacker in their lap. They played a waiting game, letting older, more expensive options land elsewhere, and landed a starting safety for nothing.
Why they are safe: There’s a big difference between crossing your fingers at tackle with a player like Halapoulivaati Vaitai and having first-round talent like Dillard. Vaitai was a usable replacement for Lane Johnson who was suspended in 2016 and injured Jason Peters in 2017. After three years of immaturity and excuses, the stronger and more focused Dillard is an NFL starter by any definition. The Cowboys should trade him a first-round pick. But Dillard is blocked by Jordan Mailata and Johnson in Philadelphia. He earns less than $2.2 million, which is low cost insurance in the NFL.
Jurgens is even cheaper. A second-round rookie with a $1.2 million cap, Jurgens is the current understudy and a definite future replacement for 34-year-old center Jason Kelce, who is recovering from elbow surgery. Jurgens had a spectacular pre-season. Don’t be surprised if Jurgens is the first option if guards Isaac Seumalo or Landon Dickerson are injured.
It might be the Eagles’ best offensive line of all time, and it might be the best depth the Eagles have had along any offensive line in their history.
It inspires confidence.
The same goes for re-signing your most trusted defensive end of the past five years. Derek Barnett may have underperformed his first-round slot in 2017, but he’s become a better tackler every season. Getting an NFL starter in his prime — he’s 26 — to go back on what’s essentially a one-year, $6 million contract was a genius from Roseman.
But Barnett isn’t even the most intriguing second line defender.
Head of class: Nakobe Dean — the nation’s top college linebacker and best-defending player in recent history that won Georgia a national title — suffered a pectoral injury and didn’t work much heading into the draft. His stock fell so far that the Eagles robbed him in the third round. He’s raw, so veterans TJ Edwards and Kyzir White will play more for now, but expect Dean to start more than half the games this season.
Linebacker was the No. 1 area of fan frustration for several seasons, but safety wasn’t far behind. The Eagles did not immediately address their security situation – an issue since Malcolm Jenkins left two years ago. But they watched, and they waited, and they went for Gardner-Johnson, a New Orleans malcontent in whom the Saints had little serious long-term interest. It only took fifth- and sixth-round picks to trade for Gardner-Johnson.
The Eagles will make him a safety, but he will add versatility to the position. Gardner-Johnson played mostly in the nickel corner in New Orleans. That could make him the first option if Eagles nickel Avonte Maddox gets injured. It also means that, if the outside corners of Slay or Bradberry get hurt, Maddox can come out and Gardner-Johnson can play the nickel. That’s assuming the Eagles have more confidence in Gardner-Johnson playing the nickel and K’Von Wallace replacing him at safety than they have in Zech McPhearson playing on the outside or Josiah Scott playing the nickel.
Either way, after Sirianni spent his first season trying to corner inferior players in lead roles, he now has frontline players all over the second tier of his depth chart.
This season, he has the tools to do his job.
It will make any man confident.