It wasn’t Jeffrey Lurie’s “gold standard” quote or Howie Roseman’s “quarterback factory” but every once in a while the top of the Eagles’ food chain will say something into an open microphone and quickly regret it, understanding the nature of the market and the fan base.
Everything is inspected with a fine-tooth comb and nothing is forgotten.
Back in January of 2021, Lurie looked to have stepped into it again with a quote that took on an artistic license.
“We have about five people in our organization that right now I could project that will be general managers in this league,” Lurie said.
Just like that the GM factory was born as a callback and the tortured cousin to Roseman’s misstep on the quarterbacks, uttered after the drafting of Jalen Hurts in 2020.
Needless to say, the sentiment was dripping with sarcasm for most.
Fast forward 26 months and Lurie hasn’t dunked on those who made fun of his predictions, nor has Roseman after Hurts developed into an MVP candidate, but both could go all Mac McClung on any critics because Philadelphia has turned into a headhunter for the rest of the NFL, not only when it comes to the front office talent but also coaching upside.
“[Roseman] continually replenishes, whether it’s a John Dorsey or [then-Eagles director of player personnel/senior defensive assistant/now OLB coach] Jeremiah Washburn, or the list goes on. I don’t want to leave anybody out,” Lurie said 26-plus months ago.
The Eagles’ owner did go on, though.
“We have a real strong nucleus with [then-vice president of player personnel] Andy Weidl, [then-assistant director of player personnel] Ian Cunningham, [then-football operations/player personnel coordinator] Catherine Raîche, [then-director of pro scouting] Brandon Brown.”
All of those names have been promoted with Weidl (Pittsburgh), Cunningham (Chicago), and Brown (NY Giants) getting assistant GM jobs and Raiche become the highest-ranking female in league history as Cleveland’s assistant GM to Andrew Berry, the GM who was once the Eagles VP of football operations.
In recent years the Eagles have also lost ex-personnel chief Joe Douglas to the GM job with the NY Jets and Pat Stewart, who is now with New England, to a VP job in Carolina. Current Super Bowl-winning GMs Jason Licht in Tampa and Brett Veach in Kansas City also kickstarted things in their careers with the Eagles.
Lurie took some time in Phoenix at the annual league meetings to reflect on what his organization has become.
“Those assistant GMs became GMs because they are so well-trained,” Lurie said. “And they’re not just trained on scouting, they’re not just trained on analytics, they’re not just trained on football ops in certain ways.”
The Eagles have become so successful in putting front-office personnel on the fast track that Roseman was asked to speak to the owners about his success.
“The reason it was brought up at one of the meetings today – and I think Howie was asked to speak on it in front of all the owners – was he and the organization train these people, they’re talented to begin with, but they have multiple responsibilities,” Lurie explained. “They get access to everything. They’re not just, ‘Here’s the scout.’ That scout needs to understand at some point how to use resources, why we do certain things, why the salary-cap management takes place the way it is, what’s the difference between the analysis on film and the analysis on data, and how that collaborates and works together.
“It’s a culture of curiosity and information and instinct.”
The old-school football guy who refuses to evolve and utilize a vast ever-growing network of information at his disposal is going to get lapped sooner rather than later in the modern NFL landscape.
Roseman’s current assistant GMs have a compliance background (Jon Ferrari) and an analytics one (Alec Halaby). He also surrounds himself with former GMs Dave Caldwell and Matt Russell as senior advisors on personnel matters and has set up dual chiefs in the scouting department with Anthony Patch and Brandon Hunt.
Helping Roseman oversee it all are VP of football transactions and strategic planning Bryce Johnston and VP of football administration Jake Rosenberg.
“[Roseman] replaced those assistant GMs with people that are extremely bright and have incredible futures,” Lurie said before doubling down on the same sentiment he had from over two years ago. “And some of them are going to be GMs in this league, and it won’t be that long.”
Heck, Lurie tabbed one future GM who hasn’t even been announced as an employee yet. The Eagles have lured Berry’s younger brother Adam Berry from Wall Street to the NFL.
“One of the things I love about Howie, he will bring in people who aren’t yes people,” Lurie said. “They’re people that he admires from afar or are just really bright. Another good example is [Adam] Berry. This is just a really, really bright guy from Goldman [Sachs], and it’s very unusual to be able to entice somebody who has the same character and intelligence as Andrew in many ways, and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t develop into a general manager in this league down the line.
“And that’s what we do.”
Turn to the coaching staff and 13 of the current 32 coaches in the NFL have spent time at the NovaCare Complex with both of Nick Sirianni’s coordinators from last season getting the big chair — Shane Steichen in Indianapolis and Jonathan Gannon in Arizona.
“These guys, they’re grinders,” Lurie said of his top employees. “And as an owner, when you have a quarterback that’s an ultimate grinder and just an incredible person and a coach that’s like that, a GM that’s like that, then their staffs become like that and the culture in the building is based on a grinding philosophy.
“We’re never satisfied. Whether we won the Super Bowl or not, that hunger for more, I have it, everyone has it.”