Over the past few weeks, there have been various members of both the Eagles coaching staff and front office attached to vacancies around the league. While it has still yet to be officially confirmed as to whether QB coach Bill Lazor will be taking the Detroit Lions offensive coordinator job, it does appear that one of the organization’s top personnel figures will remain on board for at least another year.
Tom Gamble, the Vice President of Player Personnel who was hired prior to the 2013 season, has had his name linked to general manager positions with both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins. Gamble surprised some around this time last year when he made essentially a lateral move from the well-established, talent-laden 49ers organization to what was essentially a tear-down and build back up job in Philadelphia. Many saw the fact that his father, former Eagles president Harry Gamble, had fallen ill and Tom wanting to be closer to home as the reason for the departure from San Francisco.
After he interviewed for GM positions last offseason before ultimately taking the job in Philadelphia, one would think it be just a matter of time before some team around the league put Gamble in charge of building their roster. While one can only speculate as to the actual capacity of his role in terms of drafting and free agency, the fact of the matter is that Gamble was part of an evaluation staff that has put together arguably the most talented roster in the NFL in San Francisco and appears to have helped put a drastically misguided Eagles franchise back on track in just a year. When Tampa Bay and Miami parted ways with their former general managers, Gamble’s name immediately surfaced as a potential replacement.
Whether or not the highly regarded Gamble sat down with the front offices of the two teams or what occurred during those conversations has yet to be released, but over the past 24 hours it has become clear what his intentions are for the time being.
My sense is that Eagles VP Tom Gamble fully plans to stay in Philly. He believes in Chip Kelly’s program, not ready to bolt after 1 year.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) January 14, 2014
Tom Gamble no longer in the mix for Dolphins or Bucs G.M. jobs http://t.co/lfgy3dmvXv
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 15, 2014
It has been impressive how much of a transformation current GM Howie Roseman has undergone in little more than a year. That being said, its hard not to be relieved that Gamble, whose expertise lies in evaluation compared to Roseman’s knack for numbers and cap management, will be on board for a second offseason to help the team continue to build its roster toward the elites of the NFL. Unlike last season, the team does not have a top-5 draft pick to select a ‘sure-fire’ prospect in the 1st round. Instead, in the 22nd slot, the Eagles will have to put much more of an emphasis on scouting various players and trying to bring in impact players where it is much more difficult to nail down the top talents.
Another major benefit to having Gamble on board for at least another year is his experience overseeing the construction of a dominant 3-4 defense. As seen from this past weekend’s divisional playoff game, the 49ers version of the 3-4 is as enviable a unit as any in the NFL. The speed and ferocity of their front seven leaves very few holes for teams to expose and, despite an admirable effort in year one running Billy Davis’ 3-4, the Eagles talent level is nowhere near San Francisco’s. There is no certainty, but one would have to think the team put more of an emphasis on the defensive side of the ball in the upcoming draft considering their contrary approach in 2013.
Gamble appears to understand the fact that if he remains with the Eagles and the team continues to progress, he can only benefit from the patience. It is tough to imagine that the health status of his father did not play a role, but there are extraneous factors at play in every NFL job search. Despite both the Tampa Bay and Miami franchises having Super Bowls to their names, they are not necessarily the most stable positions currently. There are GM openings essentially every offseason and Gamble has the track record and resume to be in the mix for almost any, barring any sort of unforeseen circumstances.
In any event, the Eagles should be thrilled to have retained their Executive VP for at least another year. My first thought after watching the 49ers out-class the Panthers on their home turf was, ‘please give us one more year of Gamble to get the Eagles closer to THAT’. Keeping Gamble in the fold does by no means guarantee the Eagles will get to that level of physical and territorial dominance. Judging by the returns of the 2013 draft, where all of the team’s first five picks saw the field in a moderate-to-substantial capacity, it certainly does not hurt their chances. Many feel that the 2012 and 2013 drafts are what has helped turn the Eagles back into a contender on the rise in the NFC. One more successful draft and offseason with Gamble on board and, who knows? Maybe we could start looking a lot more like that team out in San Francisco much sooner than anyone could have expected.