The New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles were once brothers in every sense of the word. Now, the franchises are complete opposites.
PHILADELPHIA, PA—Just a short few years ago, everything made sense. NFL brothers in green were interlocked by arm, suffering as one.
The Philadelphia Eagles had never captured a Super Bowl. The Philly fan’s football fame to claim remained Norm Van Brocklin’s 1960 NFL Championship conquest.
The New York Jets had Joe Namath, and very little else. Much like the Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns, this fraternity of longstanding franchises traveling a certain NFL path championship-less is painstakingly obvious.
But the Jets and Eagles, specifically, felt like a match made in football hell, a brotherhood of wild fanbases ready to explode at the drop of first success.
That all changed two Super Bowls ago. The moment the Eagles shocked the world (and the New England Patriots) is when the NFL brotherhood of green turned broken home.
Sunday’s dominant 31-6 Eagles victory over the Jets emphasizes the point.
What’s critical about that championship run is the formula: a clear-cut football hierarchy that’s understood throughout the organization.
The Chip Kelly era was a mess. President of football operations and general manager Howie Roseman was forced to endure an era of chaos.
When Kelly arrived in 2013, uncertainty ensued. Roseman continued on as GM, but that changed a year later when Kelly’s friend, with whom he brought to Philly with him, Tom Gamble, was ousted by Roseman.
Kelly was away when the firing commenced and his outrage led to an epic power struggle. Ownership appointed Kelly final say over personnel and the Eagles were flying. A second-straight 10-6 season had the former college innovator smelling like roses.
At least, it appeared they were flying.
Disfunction and a disappointing 7-9 record led to change, proper change. Kelly was fired, and Roseman, a man who slowly climbed the organizational ranks since his arrival in 2000 as salary cap staff council, was restored as the man with final say over personnel.
Once returning from his “year of exile,” Roseman hired Doug Pederson as head coach and the rest is history.
The last time the Jets employed a hierarchical structure with one clear authority came during the Bill Parcells era. The Big Tuna rode into town as the chief, the big boss, and ran everything football related.
Since Tuna, the Woody Johnson era has brought a “team approach” to the front office. The head coach and general manager remain on the same playing field, both always reporting to the owner.
The strategy has produced mixed results. Sure, the first two seasons of the Rex Ryan era were nice, but it came as a result of tremendous team building during the Mike Tannenbaum-Eric Mangini time slot.
Overall, however, an indisputable fact remains: pain has dominated pleasure over the last two decades.
The Jets won’t follow the Eagles down the “shock the world” path until the front office is officially cemented and understood by all.
As it stands now, Joe Douglas, a man who grew up in the Baltimore Ravens organization and mastered his craft in Philly, is empowered with final say over the roster. He is the general manager, the top front-office dog.
And remember, the Eagles wouldn’t allow him to interview with the Jets unless he was granted final say over personnel. They understood just how important that aspect remains.
To assume serious questions don’t exist would be foolhardy.
Head coach Adam Gase came out as the victor in the infamous Mike Maccagnan power struggle this past offseason. So much so that he was granted personnel power until the next GM was hired.
Does Gase still have great input into personnel? Is it all Douglas? And if it’s a team decision, which it most likely is, who overrules who in the event of a tie?
In theory, that man is Douglas. However, also, in theory, several seasons ago, that man was Kelly for the Eagles … until it wasn’t. Or was it Gamble?
Uncertainty leads to chaos. Chaos leads to pain. Pain leads to outrage. Once upon a time, these NFL brothers in green couldn’t resemble each other more if they both worked in the same facility. Today, thanks to one of the two righting the ship and cleaning up, the two shades of green contrast as greatly as they ever did (and no, the Jets uniform update had no impact on this notion).
Jets fans hope Douglas is the right man. Everything he’s experienced and laid out thus far on the job leads the football mind to believe he is, indeed, the correct man for this brutal, tough job.
There is that one nagging issue lingering over the heads of everybody involved: until the Jets prove a clear and present hierarchy exists in Florham Park, NJ, it won’t matter if G.M. Joe is the right man for the job or not.
It didn’t matter for the Philadelphia Eagles before they officially named Howie Roseman the top dog and it won’t for the New York Jets either.
If Joe Douglas is, in fact, the one true boss, perhaps these brothers in green can once again interlock arms in NFL unity. Until then, the Eagles will fly, the Jets will produce questions and results such as 31-6 will continue plastering a broken home.
The New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles, once brothers who act as if they never once felt each other’s pain.