Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Good afternoon, everyone. I first want to start off by thanking [former Eagles head coach] Coach [Doug] Pederson. Coach for five years, three playoff appearance, the first Super Bowl championship in the history of our football team. Partnering with him, seeing his leadership through good times and bad, just really appreciative of him and his contributions to our football team. Looking forward to celebrating our championship going forward with him and his family for years to come.
Carson [Wentz], when we drafted Carson in 2016, we dreamed of a moment where he’d play like an MVP and help us win a championship. He did both those things. Very appreciative of his contributions to us. Obviously with the trade we made, we felt like it was in the best interest of both parties. We wish him and his family the best in Indianapolis.
We have also parted ways with other players: DeSean Jackson, one of the greatest receivers in the history of our team, Alshon Jeffery, which without him we’d never have had a Super Bowl championship, Malik Jackson, great leader, heck of a player for us, and other veterans that we thank them for their time here in Philadelphia, and wish them and their families the best.
As we transition to 2021, it was really important that we started by retaining [C Jason] Kelce and BG [DE Brandon Graham]. Not only were they Pro Bowl players last year, but they’re culture setters for us.
As we go forward with 19 draft picks in the next two years, we need great players and great people. We started the off-season with keeping them in mind.
Finally, we spent the last few months with this new coaching staff. Coach [Sirianni] and his staff are all ball all the time. They love talking about players, scheme, and it’s been really fun. We know we have a lot of work to do. We climbed the mountain once. Our goal is to climb it again. That started over the last month. Time’s yours.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up to questions.
Q. Howie, I think last time we talked, to put a bow on the Carson thing, you kind of mentioned what you went through to acquire him, couldn’t imagine being without him. Can you tell us what changed in the process leading up to the trade? (John McMullen)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: A lot of honest conversations with him and his representative about where he was and the feeling that maybe it was best to kind of move on. We told him that it would have to work out for both sides. I think that’s what the trade is with Indy.
It’s a win-win trade: for them with the player they’re getting, and for us, the opportunity to not only get the picks but really to reset us going forward from a cap perspective.
Q. Howie, it feels like it wasn’t that long ago that this team was on the mountaintop, as you said, and won the Super Bowl. Now with Carson gone and Doug Pederson gone, it feels publicly like you are taking a lot of the blame for this falling apart. Do you think that’s fair? (Jamie Apody)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I don’t know if ‘fair’ is a consideration. I think it’s the nature of the job. I think we have a tremendous fan base that’s very passionate. I’m proud about a lot of things we’ve done here. But I also feel like we had a terrible year. We won four games. I’m certainly part of that and I have to wear that as well.
I do feel like we have the people in place to do the right things again and climb that mountain again and get to the top.
Q. I’d like to ask both of you about QB Jalen Hurts. Howie, what is your evaluation of his rookie year? Do you view him as a starter? Then for Coach, you’ve said you want to build the offense around the strengths of your players. As you go about building this scheme this offseason, are you building it with Jalen in mind? (Bo Wulf)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think when people start talking about Jalen, the first thing that they go to is his athleticism and his strength as a runner. I don’t know that’s necessarily fair. This is a guy who completed over 70% of his passes at Oklahoma. He’s got a feel for the passing game. He’s got a plus arm. I think he’s going to continue to get better and better.
When you look at those four games, I think I watched Coach say this, and I think it was the best way to describe it: he’s only got four starts. There’s huge room for him to continue to improve from a player who had four starts.
We’re excited about the ability that he has and his opportunity to grow and to kind of be with this coaching staff and their ability to get their hands on him and help him become the player that he’s got the talent to become.
NICK SIRIANNI: As far as building the system, in Indianapolis, we had three different starting quarterbacks each year, right? Those teams had similarities in their offenses, but minor differences just because every quarterback did something a little bit different. That’s no different here, right?
We feel like good offensive football is catering to your players, particularly first and foremost your quarterback. So, of course, we’re looking at different things that fit our offensive scheme, but then also what our quarterbacks do well.
Right now, our quarterback on our team, we have one quarterback on our team, so we’re thinking about Jalen and the things he does well: what he did well at Alabama, what he did well at Oklahoma, what he did well last year when he was here. We’re thinking about those things and how we can make him as successful as we possibly can.
Q. Howie, there’s been a lot said and a lot reported about Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie’s involvement in personnel. I just wanted to ask you your comfort level with Mr. Lurie’s involvement and that kind of thing, has it changed? Are you comfortable with it? (Reuben Frank)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: [Eagles Chairman and CEO] Jeffrey [Lurie] has always been involved in what we do here. He’s always been one to ask us questions and to really challenge us and to make sure that we’re doing the right things. I don’t see how that’s changed really over the past couple years.
Very comfortable with his role here, and very appreciative of his role here.
Q. Howie, there was a report early this month that Jeffrey Lurie told you to prioritize QB Jalen Hurts’ success as opposed to creating a true quarterback competition. Can you remark on that comment, confirm or deny it? What is the plan for quarterback? I know obviously, you’re not going to give us exact details, but are you scouring the trade market, the free agent market and is the draft a possibility at number six? (Jeff McLane)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Like Coach said, and he reminds me daily, we only have one quarterback on our roster. It’s definitely not going to stay that way. We’ve always tried to value that position and have depth at that position. I don’t see any of that changing here as we go forward. That’s nothing we would be comfortable with.
We want to have a really strong quarterback room. We feel like we have incredible coaches on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball who can maximize quarterback play.
We’re going to look at the free agent market, the trade market, and we’re certainly going to look at the draft to try to strengthen that position.
Q. Can you comment on the ESPN report? (Jeff McLane)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: We have not been told to do anything other than to try to strengthen the football team and make sure that we’re doing the right things now and going forward.
Q. Nick, curious how much you’ve been able to sort of dive into the rookie quarterback class? Watching the film, what do you see? What stands out? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, that’s something that we do every day here. We’re working in the morning on scheme and offensive installs with coaches. In the afternoon we’re evaluating players. One of my favorite things to do is evaluate players. Quarterback is no different.
That’s been a position, quarterback, wide receiver, defensive back. I get to do offense and defense now. How exciting is that? I’m able to watch the entire draft.
Like I said, quarterback is no different. We’ve evaluated quarterbacks in the draft. There’s a lot of good prospects out there. Just really getting to work and evaluating all positions has been our goal in the afternoons here on a daily basis.
Q. Howie, most draft experts believe that this quarterback class will produce five first rounders, and that four of them will likely go top 10. Would you agree with those assessments? Where does this top five group of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Mac Jones rank compared to other quarterback classes that you have evaluated? (Jimmy Kempski)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I don’t know the evaluation, it’s not complete right now. We haven’t had a chance to see all those guys throw live. We haven’t completed our evaluations of all of them.
But when you talk about how many quarterbacks will go in the first round, I don’t think there’s any question about it. I think that when you look at this group as a whole, to talk about maybe five guys going in the top 10, it’s because of the ability that these guys have.
You see over and over again, this is a quarterback-driven league, and these guys are all really good prospects. We’re going to make sure we do our due diligence on them and every other position that would be a possibility for us in the first round and with the rest of the our 11 picks.
Q. To follow up on quarterbacks, for both of you, for Howie if you do have a franchise quarterback again, what would you do differently or what have you learned from the past five years? Nick, if you have a franchise quarterback, what atmosphere do you need to create to maximize that player? (Zach Berman)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, the last five years you can take some lessons, but I don’t know that you can really think of an analogy in NFL history really. You draft a quarterback, a second [overall pick], he’s playing at an MVP level, his backup comes in and wins the World Championship. That’s a unique situation.
I know there’s been a lot of conversation here and elsewhere about the relationship with quarterbacks and what you do with them. For us, it’s always about being quarterback driven. If we have a quarterback, we are going to talk to them, we are going to get their perspective on things. It’s as much their team as anyone’s.
We’ve looked at that and kind of thought about that. That’s just who we are. We are a collaborative group, we do talk to people and the players on our team, people in our building and get their perspective. At the end of the day, I’m not telling you that’s who makes the decision. That’s the responsibility of myself and Coach at the end of the day, but getting those perspectives helps us make a decision and gives us the ability to have more information.
I thought a lot about it. Obviously didn’t think we’d be in a position where Carson wouldn’t be on this team in 2021. I think it makes sense for us to kind of go back and think about some of the things we did and go through that process again.
I think there will be more time to do that, too, when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic, and not trying to do whatever we can to get this ship back straight.
NICK SIRIANNI: As far as what it takes with a franchise quarterback. My experience with franchise quarterbacks is they make everybody around them better, right? They make everyone around them better. But what makes them better, right? In some cases, it’s a really good defense. In some cases, it’s a really good offensive line. In some cases, it’s a good running game with a running back. In some cases, it’s a good wide receiver and tight end. That looks a lot of different ways. That really can be painted a lot of different ways.
Because that can look so many different ways, the best way to surround a quarterback and to make him the most successful is coach our tails off in the meeting room, and then get him the reps on the field that he needs to get that experience to continue to get better.
What does that look like in a meeting room? That looks like us looking at a play, teaching them how to read a play fast, right, be able to teach him the mental part of the game of how he’s going to read this play, what this play is really good against and show him examples of that on the tape, like, ‘Hey this play is going to be really good against this coverage. When you get this coverage, we want to be looking over here.’ So, it’s these reps you’re going to get from it. That’s the mental part of it. And there are so many things that play into that mental part of it. I literally just talked about one play, but there’s protection, there’s so many pieces of that.
Then it’s their fundamentals, right? To me, that’s how you really get a player to reach his potential and max out his potential by teaching him what to do, which is what we just talked about, and how to do it. The how to do it now comes to your fundamentals so you can be the best version of yourself through those two things that I just said. So it’s getting your feet right, it’s getting your target line set to the target that you’re throwing, it’s finishing with your upper body finish.
Again, it’s just the mental part and the fundamentals for us because the players can look different ways, but the mental part and the fundamentals, they look the same over and over and over and over again. It’s just getting them to that point.
Q. Howie, one more time around the bases on the departure of Carson. You spoke about these honest conversations with Carson and his representative. What did he tell you that necessitated him leaving here? Why did he not want to stay here and help rebuild the Eagles? (Les Bowen)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, I keep saying his representative. It’s Ryan Tollner. I don’t know why I’m not personalizing him and our relationship.
But I think all those conversations are best if they’re kept between the parties. We have to be able to have those honest conversations. We had them. I think obviously now we’re all moving forward.
Q. Howie, we’ve heard for a while now that TE Zach Ertz could possibly be getting traded. Is there any update to that? What would it take for you to pull the trigger on a trade to let him go elsewhere? (Dave Zangaro)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, Zach has been a huge part of the success that we’ve had since we’ve drafted him. He is a heck of a player, a heck of a person, and we value him.
For us to trade any player, it’s got to make sense for both sides. It’s got to make sense for the Philadelphia Eagles, too, because none of us have the year that we wanted last year, but that doesn’t define who we are, who we are in our jobs. We know who he is. We know who he is both on and off the field. We value that.
Anything that we do with any of our players is going to be based on anything that helps the Philadelphia Eagles, as well.
Q. Howie, if you were to take a quarterback in the draft next month, would you take into account the effect it could have on Jalen Hurts more so than when you drafted Jalen last year? I know Jalen and Carson are in different positions, but Jalen was also disappointed to not come in as a starter in the NFL. (John Clark)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think Coach has said since the day he’s been here to all of us, and I’m sure to all of you, that one of his core values is competition. The only way you get better is by competing. That’s by surrounding your team with talent at all positions, and the best players play.
This is a competitive league with talented players at every position. You certainly have to be playing at a top level to be successful in this league. Whether it’s the quarterback position or any position that we may have some players at, we need to build depth, we need to get really good players, especially at the priority positions for our football team.
We’re not really concerned about anything other than improving our team and making the right decisions for our team going forward.
Q. Howie, with the combine being canceled and just limited information on these draft prospects, what have been some of the challenges this year? How have you had to adapt to that? (E.J. Smith)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, having to deal with it last year allowed us a little bit of a head start in terms of planning for this and understanding that it may look like it is now. So, we really tried to get ahead of it in August by getting as many looks as we could on guys, and then utilizing all our resources to really find out as much about the person as the player.
What we’ve kind of done is making sure we’re really focusing on a group of guys that we feel good about and knowing as much as we possibly can about and going from there.
Q. Howie, it was apparent that your strategy towards free agency was probably going to have to change a little bit this year. What can fans expect from free agency over the next couple of days and weeks? Nick, what are you looking for in veterans that you guys are bringing in in free agency? (Mike Kaye)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: In terms of the next couple days and next couple weeks, every day we’re meeting about the players that are available, we’re talking about the players who are available with our personnel staff, with our front office staff, with our coaching staff. We’re looking to see what the fits will be. We’re looking for guys that we think fit our scheme, that we think fit our culture, and we think have an opportunity to be here as we kind of build this thing back.
If there’s an opportunity to improve our team, we’re going to look at that. We’re continuing to do that. I would say if the fit’s right, we’ll do it.
Now, we’re not in the same position that we’ve been in years past with our cap situation, but we’re hopeful that this is just a short period of time that we’re like that, and we move on and going forward, that we’ll have the flexibility back to be able to do that.
We are excited about the amount of draft picks we have, not only to draft players but also because they give you capital, to go out and be aggressive if you want to be, and give you options.
NICK SIRIANNI: As far as what positions and what you need at each position, every position’s obviously a little bit different of what you need, right? You’re looking for the pieces. There’s been great communication between Howie and his staff and the coaches and myself. Those have just been such good conversations of just painting the picture of what types of players fit the things that we’re looking to do.
Again, we build our schemes – I can’t say this enough – based off the players that we have. But it doesn’t mean we’re not looking for certain things. Each position is a little bit different. You’re just looking to fill roles. [For example] for a running back, you’re looking to fill the multiple roles that you have or that you look to use in that. For a wide receiver, you’re looking to fill the roles. That can be done by committee. You’re looking to fill the roles that maybe you don’t think you have based off of the team you have at this particular time.
As far as talent-wise, that’s the type of talent we’re looking for. Again, it’s different at each and every position. Again, you’re just trying to fill the roles that it takes to be successful at some of the plays that are staples in your offense.
As far as the character of the player, we’re always looking for these things in a player. We’re always looking for tough players. We’re always looking for high football IQ players. We’re always looking for players that are competitive, right? We’re always looking for players that love ball.
In my experience, those four things, when we find players that have those four things, those are the guys you can’t go to a game without. The players that have those four things, it just feels like every player that I’ve been around, that I am like, ‘I can’t get on the bus or plane without him,’ he has those four qualities. Those guys maximize their potential.
First obviously talent is the main thing. [Jokingly] Like I have those four things, but you don’t want me suiting up on Sunday. But talent is the first thing. The second thing is the character of the player.
Those four things, that is something we’re looking for from each guy.
Q. Howie, this year you have 11 picks in the draft. Last year you had 10. How important is it to find guys who can play right away this year as opposed to maybe addressing those needs in free agency because obviously, you are in the situation that you’re in? How important will that be for you, especially this year, in the draft? (Martin Frank)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: After meeting with our coaching staff and getting their evaluations of our players, and some of our young players, I mean, it’s clear that some of our young players are going to play right away, whether it’s from last year’s draft class, the year before, or players that we draft this year.
I think when we look at the situation that we’re in in this country, and the pandemic, getting the right guys for us and our scheme and who have the right character and temperament, as well as talent, like Coach just talked about, is even more important this year than ever.
There will be opportunities to play. When you have a new coaching staff, they talk all the time about competition. The rookies will know right away that there’s opportunities here, opportunities to play right away.
At the same time, we do feel like we have a group of veteran players on this team who are here and are going to really lead and set the charge for us. We’re excited about having them back, too.
Q. Howie, there was a report last week that detailed a confrontation that you had with T Lane Johnson. This organization has been described as dysfunctional; the word ‘toxic’ has been used to describe the culture. How do you personally feel when you hear that? When you self-evaluate, how do you look at your role in that environment? I know five years ago you looked at it and decided to make some changes. Do you feel you need to change your leadership style? (Rob Maaddi)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I understand the story with Lane. Lane signed an extension since then. Our relationship is good.
We’ve had a team that has dealt with a lot of adversity, and a building that’s dealt with a lot of adversity. We’ve always rebounded.
I don’t necessarily think that’s really fair. We are constantly trying to improve. I think if you’re not trying to improve, you’re kind of stuck in the mud. I know people who have been here for a long period of time, the people who have left have left for better job offers.
I know the kind of atmosphere we have in the building. Last year during a pandemic where you couldn’t really connect as well, when you win four games, was it as fun as it had been in the past? No.
But when I look back at our track record, and some of the situations we’ve been in, and how we’ve overcome that, I think that’s only because you have a good building. That’s a lot of people, obviously. We have a lot of good people in this building, people that care about this team and people who bring positive energy.
Q. Howie, you mentioned earlier that it has to make sense for you to trade Zach Ertz. Clearly a year ago his value was much higher than it is today. Do you have any regrets about not considering trading him last year? Nick, I know it’s early and you don’t know what your team is going to look like, but do you envision your offense having a lot of 12-personnel packages? (Paul Domowitch)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: In terms of Zach, I think you talk exactly about the dilemma you have right there. This is a guy that we didn’t want to trade last year because we wanted him to finish his career as an Eagle. When we looked at the history of tight ends in the league, we’re talking about a guy 30-year-old guy, we’re not talking about a guy in his mid-30s. His skill set, we felt like he had tremendous production going forward left in him. We still feel that way about Zach.
There’s nobody that works harder. He’s an incredible route runner, has incredible hands. He’ll do anything to help the team. Our goal was really to try to extend him, and that didn’t work out in August. We hadn’t really thought about trading him. We were trying to do whatever we could to try to win and we knew he was a big part of that.
NICK SIRIANNI: As far as the personnel goes, again, it always looks different based off of who you are and what team you have. I have been on teams that have been heavy 11-personnel. It’s always really started there in the 11-personnel, right? Then I’ve had teams that have had, yes, we are heavy in 11-personnel, but 12 was our good mixer. Then, I’ve had teams that we’ve been on that 21 with two halfbacks have been a good mixer, and 21 with a fullback is a good mixer.
Again, it really is, I hate to sound cliché here, but it really is about what your players can do. I’ve had success in 12. Our teams in Indy had success with multiple tight ends on the field. We know the sign of a good coach is using the personnel.
I love to have a chance to brag on my brother. My brother I think is the best football coach, he doesn’t coach high school football anymore, but what he did at Southwestern High School was he won a state championship running the pro system. Then he had the athletes to run a spread system and ran the spread system and won a state championship. [Jokingly] Three years later he had no athletes, sorry to any of those Southwestern kids listening right now, they turned to the Wing T, ran the Wing T, went to the state championship game, they didn’t win the state championship game.
Again, I love saying that because I love my brother and I love bragging on him.
My point is, that’s the sign of a good coach, is the one that can take his teams and use their best personnel. With that being said, it’s also important that you’re not just an 11-personnel team or 21-personnel team, or not just a 12-personnel team. That’s easy for the defense to watch and scheme.
If 11 is who we are, it’s important that we’re good at 12 as well and 21 and et cetera. 13 has also been something we’ve done a lot in the past.
Q. It was mentioned earlier about Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson leaving, and we know what happened with Marquise Goodwin. How do you guys see the wide receiver position as it is currently is constructed right now? With the draft, having guys like Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith, how do you see this draft class shaping up and do you see anybody helping out this team? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think to see the young talent on this team, I think Howie and his staff have done such a good job of getting young talent in here. What’s exciting is to be able to work with the guys that are currently on this roster, the guys that are currently on these rosters, these are the guys I fell in love with a couple years ago in the draft or last year in the draft.
In the draft, you don’t get to recruit the guys. It’s like, ‘Oh, shoot the Eagles took them.’ I get a chance to work with them now. How exciting is that?
I think Howie and his staff have done such a good job, again, of getting the good, young talent in here. For sure, just like we talked about with the quarterback class, there’s some great wide receivers. This is a deep wide receiver class.
But what we do is look through all our options, we watch the tape on all the guys, do our homework on all the guys. Like every other position, we do whatever we need to do to improve the Eagles and make the position as good as we can possibly make the position.