I’m not going to miss Joe Banner, but I’m not convinced that the Eagles are better off without him.
Banner is highly respected around the league, a sentiment Eagles fans never shared. When the going was rough, Banner drew a lot of ire as the (sneering) face of unpopular decisions the Eagles made. But I don’t think the criticism he received was always fair. Banner was the human shield because as Lurie’s best friend he was in a unique position to never have to worry about being fired for PR reasons. He was doing the job his best friend asked him to do, and he did it well. The Eagles became a successful and very well run team under Banner’s watch, and he deserves a good deal of credit for his business principles being a key to that. “Cut ’em at 30” might be cruel and cold, but with the exception of Brian Dawkins it never came back to bite them, and that was Banner. Signing players to long term deals at younger ages that gave the Eagles great cap management, which other teams weren’t doing, that was also Banner. The Flyers should be giving Banner a call about that. Holmgren’s eye and Banner’s cap management would be a deadly duo. The good cop/bad cop routine Banner had going had probably worn thin, although complaints by Drew Rosenhaus should not register with anyone. Still, as Les Bowen writes
(with a nice dig at nemesis Jeff McLane), the image of the Eagles was suffering and the perception of Banner was a contributing factor. Perhaps it was Banner who allowed Reid (and the rest of the organization) to be dismissive towards the media, it would certainly fit with the closed door attitude that Banner had. Given everyone’s ties to each other, when Andy Reid had to convince Lurie that naming Juan Castillo defensive co-ordinator would work, it’s possible that Banner was convinced first and helped Reid sell him on it.
So Banner’s out. But will the Eagles be better off for it?
It’s hard to say they will be. Things changed this year, and now Howie Roseman has more control. It was Roseman, not Banner who was doing contract negotiations, and in that department things did in fact get better as DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Trent Cole and Todd Herremans all got contract extensions done with ease. If the very good off-season that Roseman has had is any indication, and it very well may not be, then this is a good move. But one good draft (as judged on draft day) does not make up for two years of poor drafting, and one good and one awful trade this year continued his mixed bag of veteran player movements. The added weight on Roseman’s shoulders we thought was there is now reality and he has to continue to perform well. To his credit he this season he has so far done an excellent job. But no matter how highly Lurie thinks of him, Roseman does not have the luxury of being BBF with the owner. Nor does Andy Reid, who is being painted as the largest beneficiary of this power shift. The seat might not be any hotter now, but a few more coils were just installed for when it gets turned on.
New CEO Don Smokenski will not have the football input that Banner had, meaning that football decisions will not just continue to be made by Reid and Roseman, the duo that brought you Casey Matthews and Kurt Coleman as starters on Juan Castillo’s defense, but they now have even more power. Only time will tell, but color me skeptical that this radical shift in Eagles management will work out for the good.