Farewell Joe Banner: Is Change Good for the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles?

By Bryn Swartz

It’s been fewer than nine hours since the Philadelphia Eagles made the announcement that Joe Banner is no longer the president of the team, yet the news is still shocking to the majority of the fan base.

A press conference at 2:30 p.m. today will likely answer some of the questions regarding the departure of Banner and what it means for the franchise, but until then, I’m going to try to answer some of the questions that we all have.

For starters, why is Banner no longer president? What does this mean for head coach Andy Reid? And how does this affect the Eagles moving forward?

Let me start. I think that the answer for all three of these comes down to a few simple facts.

By removing Banner of his duties as president (or by Banner choosing to step down, whichever one you believe), the Eagles showed that Andy Reid is truly the one who has the most power within the organization.

This has been a long debate about the Eagles, and it’s been known that there are four men who have final say on decisions regarding the Eagles: Banner, Reid, owner Jeffrey Lurie, and general manager Howie Roseman. Now there are just three, as Banner is out.

In the past, Banner’s philosophy consisted of treating the players like figures on a spreadsheet, not as actual people. For example, he had a major role in the Eagles letting Brian Dawkins walk via free agency, which is easily one of the most unpopular decisions made by the franchise over the last decade. He also was the mastermind behind the Eagles’ massive offseason spending spree, when they purchased multiple superstars through free agency. It was Banner who announced that the Eagles were “all-in” and were gunning for the Green Bay Packers.

His actions haven’t gone over well with fans, who have chosen him as the bad guy in the Eagles’ organization, which is both fair and unfair. If you had asked me last season, I would have said that Banner was the most powerful person within the Eagles’ organization, not Reid.

But now Reid has the most power on the team, and it’s evident because he’s still with the organization, despite a miserable 8-8 season in 2011. You could look at it this way: Banner took the fall for the failed Dream Team season, not Reid.

Reid’s role with the Eagles has actually increased. Look at some of the decisions that the team has made over the past few months. He locked up running back LeSean McCoy to a contract extension. He signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson to an extension when the Eagles could have let him stick with the franchise tag for a year. He re-signed Evan Mathis, Todd Herremans, and Trent Cole. All in all, that’s five Pro Bowl caliber players that the Eagles locked up long term.

I believe that the majority of the contract extensions were because of Reid, who wants to change the approach that the team takes to win games. It’s no longer about bringing in big name free agents (a la Nnamdi Asomugha and Jason Babin). It’s about locking up the players that have helped the team win over the past few seasons.

Reid understands that players like Cole and Herremans, who have been with the Eagles their whole careers, care a lot more about winning a Super Bowl than players like Vince Young or Steve Smith, who knew that they would just be in Philly for one season and viewed the Eagles as a stepping stone to a big free agent contract.

Then again, it’s not like Reid got everything he wanted with the Eagles. I absolutely believe the reports that Reid wanted the Eagles to pursue free agent quarterback Peyton Manning, a four-time league MVP and the most coveted free agent in league history. Yes, they have Michael Vick as their quarterback, but Reid is a QB genius and when you have an opportunity to acquire the greatest regular season quarterback in NFL history and you need a deep postseason run in 2012 to keep your job, you’re going to try to get him.

In the future, it’s still unclear exactly how much the Banner decision will affect the face of the Eagles franchise. I have no clue how much power Don Smolenski will have with the Eagles. Are they still the big four when it comes to making decisions or does Smolenski not have decision-making power yet?

Regardless, I am okay with Banner leaving because I trust Reid’s philosophy of running the organization more than Banner. I really like the outlook of the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles. I admit that I loved the way the team looked last offseason after we signed a bunch of big name free agents, but we all know how badly that turned out, and when I think about it, I’d rather have what the Eagles have done in this past offseason than what they did the previous year.

This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for Eagles Central and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.

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