September 07, 2017
On Thursday afternoon, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeff Lurie called an impromptu press conference at the NovaCare Complex.
Many were wondering why, with just a few days before his team opens their 2017 season in Washington, Lurie decided that he wanted to speak – after all, the last time he spoke with reporters was during the NFL owners meetings back in March.
Well, a lot has happened since then and, according to Lurie, he just wanted to give everyone a chance to ask him any questions before football officially returns to Philly. And what he wound up doing was offering a ringing endorsement of Howie Roseman, who has been the team's general manager since 2010 (with the exception of 2015 when they handed over that role to then-coach Chip Kelly), who has failed to deliver a playoff victory during his tenure.
“I think Howie’s done a tremendous job,” Lurie said. “I have real, total confidence in Howie. The last couple years have seen remarkable, franchise-changing decisions. As I’ve said before, it is not easy to not tank and be able to accomplish the goals you want in the NFL. It’s so hard to get quarterbacks. And the maneuvering, the use of assets the way we did, the identification of the one player we had a lot of confidence in, Carson Wentz, at a time when other teams all needed quarterbacks. That’s just one of many, many key things that Howie, the player personnel department, analytics, everybody has participated in – and the coaches in a big way.
“Ever since then, it’s been one domino after another in terms of smart moves. Really happy with the additions this offseason, as I was last offseason.”
Lurie, who said that Roseman's primary job is to manage all the departments he oversees – scouting, analytics, basically everything football related – and then make final decisions. Roseman is also in charge of the salary cap, something his boss said played a big role in how the team approached this offseason, specifically how they were able to build for the long term without sacrificing a chance to win now.
“The key – and I think it’s being philosophically smart – which is this: Can you take a patient mid-term and long-term view, and at the same time maximize short-term opportunities? That’s also not easy to do in the NFL," Lurie said when asked what he liked most about the team's 2017 offseason. "So what we’ve been able to do this offseason is really improve with a lot of good young players, position ourselves to have the flexibility to re-sign every good player we have, and, at the same time, adding some one-year players that are very good players, like Alshon Jeffery and Timmy Jernigan, where you have the ability to potentially have their rights and extend them and go forward.
“That dual purpose – some franchises you can see it happening now with this potential quarterback draft class, where they’re just trading away assets and trying to get draft picks. We’ve taken the philosophy that we can try to get a franchise quarterback and then try to maximize the short-term and the long term the best you can. And consistently, every decision for the short-term has been where we don’t sacrifice any mid-term or long-term flexibility. And that’s the absolute standard in which we believe.”
Roseman, however, isn't the one in charge of developing the players he acquires. That falls on the coaching staff, specifically head coach Doug Pederson, who recently drew harsh criticism from Mike Lombardi, a former NFL GM and exec who said the Birds' coach was the least qualified person he's seen in over 30 years experience in the NFL.
But Lurie didn't seem to put much stock in the opinions of Lombardi, who was actually a former employee of Lurie's for a season – he was the Eagles' Director of Pro Personnel in 1998.
"I have a strong endorsement of Doug," Lurie said. "First of all, those comments – you guys call it 'clickbait,' 'hot takes' – that's how I saw that. But think about this: Doug took over a team that had locker room issues with the previous head coach, lost his starting quarterback 10 days before the start of the season and was asked to use our young third-string quarterback, had to put together a coaching staff – and my personal opinion of the coaching staff that he put together is absolutely outstanding. And that is a huge credit [to Doug].
"Quarterback analysis, locker room chemistry, and the ability to put together a top-notch coaching staff. Those are three key ingredients, and I think he aced them all. Yes, there are going to be growing pains with any first-year coach – we had that with Andy, we had that with Chip – no matter who it is. I see him as someone who can keep improving. He's a listener, a collaborator, and I think he has terrific relationships with the players.
"The future is in front of him, and it's there for the taking."
The first step would be making the playoffs.
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