MINNEAPOLIS — Six years ago, Howie Roseman had visions of getting to the Super Bowl and collected a group of players that came to be known as the “Dream Team.” Unfortunately for the Eagles’ general manager, things didn’t work out too well.
Despite signing star players cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, pass rusher Jason Babin and quarterback Vince Young, Roseman’s 2011 Eagles went 8-8 and missed the playoffs. The Super Bowl winners that year: the Giants, whose lone free-agent signing was punter Steve Weatherford.
But the general manager remained undeterred and again rebuilt the Eagles with a hyper-aggressive plan over the last two seasons. This time, he reached the promised land of Super Bowl LII, in large part because of a series of moves that began with a push up the draft board in 2016 to get quarterback Carson Wentz. It continued with the signings of veterans such as wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, defensive end Chris Long, defensive back Corey Graham, offensive lineman Chance Warmack and backup quarterback Nick Foles, who has replaced the injured Wentz to get the Eagles to Sunday’s title game against the Patriots.
It’s an unmistakable feeling of vindication for the 42-year-old executive, who previously had his personnel duties stripped during the ill-fated Chip Kelly era but made the most of his second chance.
“This is a lot bigger for me,” Roseman said. “This is an opportunity to do something this organization, this team, has never done. When you think about that atmosphere and the opportunity we have, there’s no way to think about anything else than to capitalize on the moment.”
Unlike 2011, when the Eagles couldn’t put all their newly acquired pieces together under coach Andy Reid, nearly all of Roseman’s acquisitions have proved fruitful under the patient handling of second-year coach Doug Pederson, a former backup quarterback and longtime assistant under Reid. Among his other key moves: trading for defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, cornerback Ronald Darby and running back Jay Ajayi. Roseman also signed kicker Jake Elliott off the Bengals’ practice squad.
“Sometimes we forget, it’s big business,” Roseman said in discussing the reasoning behind team owner Jeffrey Lurie restoring his personnel authority after Kelly’s first season in 2014. “We’re managing payroll, we have a bunch of resources, and we’re trying to hire a lot of good people. I think maybe we’re the last [major professional] sport that doesn’t do that as much.
“There’s not a day that goes by where I’m just sitting in my office and I go, ‘What are we doing with the roster?’ ” Roseman said. “That’s why running the department is so big. There’s not enough time in the day.”
“Howie has come a long way through the last couple of years, and to be in this position, to help this football team win and succeed on the football field is a credit to him and his staff,” coach Doug Pederson said.
The salient stat that reflects Roseman’s shrewd moves: All 53 of the Eagles’ points scored so far in the postseason have come from players who weren’t with the team last season.
“Your good decisions are going to have to outweigh your bad ones,” Roseman said. “Make sure your priorities are intact, and when you make those bad decisions, research the heck out of it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Six years after the “Dream Team” went bust, Roseman made sure it didn’t happen again. One more win on Sunday, and he’ll achieve the ultimate goal.