Trying to Follow Jeffrey Lurie's Cloudy Accountability Trail

The Eagles owners' insistence on collaboration among his top football people doesn't make it easy to assign blame
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PHILADELPHIA - Tomato-tomato with the emphasis on a different letter is generally used to explain a distinction without a difference.

When you're talking about Philadelphia Eagles football, collaboration and cloudy might not be quite as catchy but it sure is a distinction without a difference.

Jeffrey Lurie's insistence on collaboration among his top football people leaves a cloudy accountability trail and perhaps that the owner's ultimate goal.

Was Donnel Pumphrey a Howie Roseman draft pick or a Joe Douglas one? 

Was J.J. Arcega Whiteside's college production the tipping point for the now-Jets GM or the current Eagles one? 

Was Marcus Smith the choice of Roseman or Chip Kelly?

Was Roseman's obsession with speed and traits in the 2020 draft an overcorrection to past failures?

Did Doug Pederson really push for Jalen Hurts?

You get the gist of this exercise.

Ask multiple sources and you'll get multiple answers.

On Monday, Pederson who may or may not be the Eagles head coach at this time next week claimed he wanted to "be a voice that's heard" on the personnel front, a statement that seemed to carry with it the inference of a voice not being heard.

“I want to be a part of the solution. I want to be a part of the evaluation process. I want to be a voice that's heard, and I want to have that collaborative communication with Howie and his staff and be a part of that process,” Pederson said.

That sounded like at least a slight sea change from Pederson, although the coach has remained consistent on only wanting a small piece of the personnel pie.

In truth, that's always been a Pederson strength because the dual jobs of the head coach and GM are too big for any man as evidenced by Chip Kelly's flameout here and the more recent travails of Bill O'Brien in Houston.

Pederson loves coaching and that's what he wants to do, but there seems to be a disconnect with Lurie and his right-hand man Roseman taking more from the head coach since the Super Bowl LII win, a staggering miscalculation highlighted by a slavish devotion to Lurie's prized analytical approach and the undermining of Pederson with the forced firing of Mike Groh.

More so, according to a team source, Lurie is the one who pressed to bring in USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell as the "new idea man" after Groh was dismissed and then couldn't even get the former quarterback, who is obviously unproven as a coach at the professional level, to interview.

That's a somewhat dangerous dalliance indicating Lurie didn't learn his lesson from Kelly, although it's unfair to assume Harrell can't be more than a one-trick pony.

Ultimately, the Eagles hired Rich Scangarello as the key offensive cog, a Kyle Shanahan disciple and a stark contrast to Harrell, an Air-Raid proponent.

The larger issue there is seemingly no concrete belief, just tasting flavors at Baskin-Robbins.

Pederson somewhat walked back his Monday comments on Wednesday or at least further clarified them by saying that he didn't want to “cross that line” from coaching into personnel, currently the purview of Roseman and Andy Weidl with a little John Dorsey mixed in.

“All I’m saying is it’s a collaborative effort,” Pederson said, no doubt with the Wizard churning away behind the Eagles' Zoom studio. “It’s something that we talk about and discuss. By no means do I want to … I don’t want to cross that line. My side is the football side. I want to coach football, that’s what I love to do."

The miscommunication - if there even is one - is that Pederson wants Roseman and Co. to provide players that Pederson, Jim Schwartz, and Dave Fipp feel can excel in their schemes, the same as any other coaching staff.

"I want to make sure that my staff is doing the right things, right? We’re evaluating the players that can help us," said Pederson. "That’s all I’m saying there. I don’t want to cross that (personnel) line at all.”

Any good GM providing players a coach doesn't want is doing a disservice to himself anyway so a lot of this should be self-correcting.

If it's not, Lurie has to lift the clouds by admitting his personnel department is whiffing too much or the coaching staff is not properly developing the talent it's been given.

To those on the outside, it's a causality dilemma - the chicken or the egg?

Lurie, though, should already know the answer.

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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