Today's front office reshuffling was about much more than an organizational power struggle between head coach Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman.
That's how we all framed the situation in our heads, of course, because we are trained to see clashes of ego between NFL head coaches and general managers as natural and practically inevitable.
Coach : Dog :: GM :: Cat
(:: Owner : Meddlesome Interloper)
The Eagles' personnel acquisition/retention program has been broken for at least 12 months. They let DeSean walk for nothing, then botched the draft, then failed to build sufficient depth to sustain an NFL roster at positions like inside linebacker.
And don't get me started on Nate Allen.
Let's pick a less emotionally-fraught example and assume for a moment that Chip Kelly was responsible for drafting Taylor Hart in the fifth round (and only after Howie talked him out of taking him in the third).
After a year in which Hart couldn't get on the field over a 29-year-old used car salesman who got shoved around every time he was out there, this does not look like the wisest draft pick ever.
So blame Chip. Blame him for taking a try-hard Oregon guy and #culturefit over a badly needed outside linebacker who put up six sacks playing about the same number of snaps as Brandon Graham.
Except, what if the reason Chip went off the board for a guy like Hart is because the board wasn't giving him the kinds of guys he really wanted? What if he was simply aping -- in reverse -- the old Cincinnati draft strategy, in which an organization that refused to invest enough money in scouts took character risk after character risk because at least those guys could play?
Culture trumps 40 time, right?
A team's draft board isn't just a list of players, it's a collection of settled arguments. If the GM and the head coach are fighting on draft day over whether or not they should take an -- at best! -- fifth round talent two rounds earlier, then those arguments are happening way too late.
"[W]e came up with what we believe will be a more thorough and thoughtful model that would best be overseen by Chip. It’s most important that we find players that match what our coaches are seeking."
Blame the coach for pulling the trigger on the wrong guy. But maybe blame the GM for not having the right guys there instead.
If Tom Gamble was helping Chip solve this problem by working around the GM, then Howie was right to fire him. You can't have competing chains of authority in a functional organization.
But that doesn't solve the underlying problem.
"When we spoke, he was thoughtful, thorough and professional. There were no demands, no threats - quite the contrary - he was passionate, engaged and articulated a dynamic and clear vision on how this fully integrated approach will work."
The natural response to hearing "there were no threats" is to think "wow, Chip threatened the hell out of him." I don't actually buy that, because I don't think Chip had to. Lurie could see the process was broken. We all could.
My guess is Howie thought he would be saved by Lurie's famed scorecard. He was doing well there, while Chip's record is awfully spotty so far.
But Lurie likes process and consensus. The fights must be a prelude to collectively made decisions, not the last act before the card is submitted. Kelly's answer offers the promise of a return to that sort of system. Howie's (speculated) position did not.
Now, there remains the question of if Chip Kelly is well suited for this new role. I have substantial reservations on that point.
But at least now, going forward, we'll know we're booing the right guy if they keep drafting the wrong ones.