Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - One man's trash is another man's treasure.
Just as former Eagles president and current Browns CEO Joe Banner was being
vilified in Philadelphia for a few bad drafts on "Black Monday", he was
remaking the Cleveland franchise in his image, jettisoning both general
manager Tom Heckert and head coach Pat Shurmur.
Interestingly both Heckert and Shurmur worked extensively with Banner in the
City of Brotherly Love.
Heckert reported to Banner with the Eagles from 2001-2009, first as director
of player personnel before ascending to general manger by '06. Shurmur,
meanwhile, was the team's tight ends coach before moving on to mentor the
quarterbacks from 1999 to 2008. Both were "Andy Reid guys," however.
The Eagles organization is an interesting case study in ego. While never the
"Gold Standard" as once claimed by team owner Jeffrey Lurie, the Philadelphia
front office was, once upon a time, regarded as one of the NFL's best.
Lurie was content behind the scenes. Banner was brilliant at running day-to-
day business operations and Reid put together quite a staff both on the field
and in the personnel department, having the final say in all football related
matters with Heckert serving as his "rubber-stamp general manager."
It was a storybook operation, resulting in five NFC Championship Games and a
Super Bowl appearance until hubris and Reid's troubled sons took things off
Most trace the Eagles' downfall back to Reid's leave of absence after his sons
were both arrested on drugs and weapons charges back in February of 2008.
In the ensuing months, Reid lost some power in the organization to Banner, who
replaced Heckert with his own protege, Howie Roseman.
By all accounts Banner and Roseman, two salary cap guys, got a taste of what
it was like to put together a team. Neither had much of a resume as talent
evaluators but both men thought they did a better job than Reid, the life-long
When things started to go south quickly, fingers started pointing and Banner,
despite his long time friendship with Lurie, was forced out of the
After a dismal 4-12 season in 2012 Reid was the next to be shown the door on
Monday with Roseman, the youngest general manager in football, being made up
to be Ron Wolf by a smitten Lurie.
"I keep voluminous notes on talent evaluation -- not just who we draft, but
who is valued in each draft by each person that is in the organization that's
working here," said Lurie. "And I came to the conclusion that the person who
was providing by far the best talent evaluation in the building was Howie
Lurie wouldn't play the blame game and name names but noticeably placed the
lightly-regarded Roseman above the fray, giving his new right-hand man a get
out of jail free card in front of the notoriously tough Philly media.
"I decided to streamline the whole decision-making process for the
2012 draft and offseason, and that's the first draft and offseason I hold
Howie completely accountable for," Lurie said.
That means someone other than Roseman, either Banner, Reid or former
personnel chief Ryan Grigson, who is doing quite a job in Indianapolis these
days, was to blame for the disastrous 2011 Eagles draft, which unleashed
Danny Watkins and Jaiquawn Jarrett on the city.
"The mistakes that were made in the 2011 draft have little or nothing to do
with Howie's evaluations and I think it was important for me to own up to the
mistakes that were made and understand where they were coming from and it was
awfully clear," the Birds owner said.
Since Reid has the history and Grigson is a candidate for 2012 NFL Executive
of the Year as the Colts general manager, it's pretty clear Banner was "the
problem," at least in Lurie's eyes.
New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam thinks Roseman turned on Banner and grifted
Lurie. So Haslam gave the keys of his organization over to Banner, who
promptly fired his two old employees, taking a quick swipe at Shurmur's
leadership skills in the process.
"The top quality in a coach that we're going to look for going forward is
somebody with some really strong dynamic leadership," Banner said. "I think
there was also an element of feeling the need to kind of maybe create a fresh
energy and a fresh start."
That fresh start would presumably be NFL Flavor of the Month Chip Kelly and
But, guess who also wants the University of Oregon coach?
Survey says ... Roseman.
"I've got a game to play," Kelly said during the Fiesta Bowl's media day on
Monday when asked about the NFL. "We're playing in the Fiesta Bowl. That's the
biggest thing in my life. If I allowed other things to get into my life, then
they would be distractions, but there aren't. Our focus 100 percent is on the
Kelly, who is 45-7 in four years as head coach at Oregon, turned down Tampa
Bay last offseason after effectively agreeing to take the job but with
possible NCAA sanctions hanging over Oregon like a Sword of Damocles now, it's
probably time for Kelly to flee the Pacific Northwest.
Someone is going to get Kelly and both the Browns and Eagles want him.
It's the mentor versus the protege, the Jedi trying to hold off his Padawan.
This time, however, any veil of secrecy is long gone and both Banner and
Roseman will be held accountable moving forward.
NFL POWER POLL
The Sports Network's final regular season NFL Power Poll, which ranks all 32
league teams, can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/2cjp9l8
Wild Card Weekend: (All Times Eastern)
Cincinnati (10-6) at Houston (12-4), Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
LINE: Texans by 4 1/2
THE SKINNY: The 2012 postseason starts with the Bengals visiting the Texans
for the second consecutive year. A season ago, Houston's Arian Foster rushed
for 153 yards and two TDs as the Texans knocked off Cincinnati 31-10.
"We're in the same exact spot we were last year, playing at home against
Cincinnati," said Texans center Chris Myers. "One thing that we have on our
side is that we're playing in our home stadium and we've got to use that to
our advantage. We've got to go into the playoffs with a fresh start."
The Texans lost three of four to end the season and blow a potential first
round bye but are plenty talented, leading he AFC with eight Pro Bowl
"This month decides everything," said Defensive Player of the Year candidate
J.J. Watt, who led the NFL with 20 1/2 sacks. "We still have everything in
front of us."
The Bengals enter the postseason having won seven of their last eight games,
including the final three to close out the regular season.
"Our guys realize that just being in the playoffs is not what we're here for,"
said Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis. "We want to go win the championship.
That's what it's all about. We're starting over and we realize how critical
PREDICTION: Texans 31, Bengals 20
Minnesota (10-6) at Green Bay (11-5), Saturday, 8 p.m.
LINE: Packers by 8
THE SKINNY: The back end of a rare home-and-home NFL set will take place
Saturday night at Lambeau Field when the Vikings and Packers knock heads
In Week 17, Minnesota MVP candidate Adrian Peterson rushed for 199 yards and
scored two touchdowns as the Vikings defeated Green Bay to advance to the
postseason. Rookie Blair Walsh kicked the game-winning field goal to push
Minnesota into the playoffs and set up a rematch at Lambeau Field on Wild Card
"We came in and accomplished the ultimate goal, which was getting a win and
punching our ticket to the playoffs," said Peterson, who finished with 2,097
rushing yards, the second-most in a season in league history and just nine shy
of breaking Eric Dickerson's NFL record (2,105 in 1984).
Peterson recorded seven games with at least 150 rushing yards in 2012,
matching Earl Campbell (1980) for the most in NFL history. In two meetings
against the Packers this year, A.P. rushed for 409 yards (204.5 per game).
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, meanwhile, led the NFL with a 108.0 passer
rating, the second consecutive season he has topped the league. Entering the
2012 playoffs, Rodgers has the highest passer rating (105.5) in NFL postseason
"It's playoff football," said Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy. "The door is
open for the playoffs to begin. We're one of six NFC teams with the
opportunity to go to New Orleans. That's what we're focused on. This is the
time of year we live for and work for. Our players know what this is all
about. It's the playoffs."
PREDICTION: Packers 24, Vikings 23
Indianapolis (11-5) at Baltimore (10-6), Sunday, 1 p.m.
LINE: Ravens by 6 1/2
THE SKINNY: The Colts return to their former home city hot, having won nine of
their final 11 regular season games and becoming just the second team in NFL
history to win at least 11 games following a season with two or fewer
victories. In Week 17's 28-16 win over Houston, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano
made his triumphant return to the sidelines after a three-month leave for
chemotherapy treatments for leukemia.
"This has been a great year, a storybook ending," said Indianapolis wide
receiver Reggie Wayne. "Let's keep it going. Hopefully we can continue to
write this movie."
Baltimore enters the postseason as the AFC North champions but started the
2012 campaign at 9-2 before faltering down the stretch and finished by losing
four of five.
"This team's getting healthy and we're going to hit our stride going forward
in the playoffs," said Ravens Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice.
PREDICTION: Ravens 27, Colts 17
Seattle (11-5) at Washington (10-6), Sunday, 4:30 p.m.
LINE: Seahawks by 3
THE SKINNY: Rookie quarterbacks Robert Griffin III of Washington and Russell
Wilson of Seattle lead their teams into the playoffs. RG3 (102.4) and Wilson
(100.0) are the only freshman quarterbacks in NFL history to post 100-plus
Both have been complemented by strong running games. For the Redskins, rookie
running back Alfred Morris finished second in the NFL with a team-record 1,613
rushing yards. The Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch, meanwhile, ranked third in the
league with 1,590 yards and was selected to his second Pro Bowl.
As a whole Seattle and Washington enter the postseason as two of the hottest
teams in the league. The Seahawks have won five in a row and seven of their
past eight while the Redskins are riding a seven-game winning streak and are
just the fifth team in NFL history to make the playoffs after a 3-6 start.
"This is a big deal to finish like this and win all these games in a row,"
said Seattle head coach Pete Carroll. "We finished the regular season and now
we'll start it up again with a new season. We're really excited about that."
PREDICTION: Seahawks 20, Redskins 17
The Sports Network