Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie said the team’s slow start “doesn’t matter now” and the Birds are “in prime contention” during an ESPN Monday Night Football Chalk Talk event at Lincoln Financial Field this afternoon.
Lurie was among the guests who addressed an overflow crowd of several hundred, in what ESPN said was the biggest turnout for these weekly events in the MNF host city. ESPN also honored veterans who were on hand to start Veterans Week.
“This is a big game for the Eagles. It’s a big game for the Bears too,” Lurie said. “We’ve got to win.”
“I was keeping up with the Giants yesterday. They went up to Foxborough and beat the Patriots. That was too bad.” That remark drew a mix of laugh and boos.
As for the Eagles, Lurie said, “We got off to a slow start, but that doesn’t matter now. We’re in prime contention over the last nine games. All the teams are in front of us. We have to take care of our own business. It’s really up to us. We have a very exciting team and it’s up to us to perform. Like Andy Reid says, we take it practice by practice, game by game, week by week as we go. We need to take every opponent extremely carefully. That’s our approach. We have assembled players who are very professional. It doesn’t matter whether the team is 1-7, 3-5 or 7-1, we can’t overlook anyone. It takes a lot of preparation.”
He also talked about playing in prime time. "It's a great chance to show what we have. We build the team to produce players that love to be on a national stage. If you want to be a playoff team and a Super Bowl team, you want guys who are comfortable on the national stage, playing in prime time."
Former Eagles Brian Westbrook, Jevon Kearse and Jeremiah Trotter, along with former Bears wide receiver Curtis Conway took part in another panel discussion.
Westbrook was asked about LeSean McCoy and the comparisons being drawn between the two of them. Westbrook recouting McCoy being drafted as a 20-year-old who knew nothing about the NFL life. He says McCoy is now “able to dominate games alone,” rather than relying on help from the Eagles’ other offensive stars like Michael Vick, Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson. “He’s taking it to another level.”
Westbrook recounted that McCoy told him, “I want to be just like you.” Westbrook says he told McCoy that should not be “his goal in life. I want you to be better than me … If as your mentor and someone who helped you, if you are as good as men, then I failed.”
Westbrook also talked about the fan support in Philadelphia and how that separates the city from other NFL cities. He talked about the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers walking into a grocery store last year when he played for San Fran and no one recognizing him. By contrast, he said Philadelphia fans would stop him or Donovan McNabb or other recognizable Eagles on the street all the time. “All the fans want is for you to give 100 percent, and of course, win. The fans support you as long as you are doing what you are supposed to be doing on the field.”
Trotter talked about how he still keeps track of the Eagles and the players that he played with. “I bleed Eagles green,” he said. “I love seeing these guys win. Anytime they win, it makes everyone’s job easier” in the city.
Of life as an Eagle, he said, “You play here and the fans love you, you never want to leave. They hate you and you can’t wait to get out of town.”
Ron Jaworski and Mike Tirico also broke down tonight’s game. They joked that fellow analyst Jon Gruden was not on the podium because he was hiding from the fans for all the bad calls he made during his tenure as Eagles offensive coordinator.
Jaworski on the Eagles speed: “This is the fastest team, arguably, in the history of the NFL. (He mentioned the possibility of the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf teams). This is going to be fun watching from my perspective … We are pumped for tonight’s game.”
On Vick: “He’s beating defenses with his legs, arms and mind. He’s arrived.”
On whether the Eagles can win the division: “Absolutely, they can. They have to play the way they have played over the last couple of weeks. (Because of the lockout), I think you have to discount the first half of the season. Watch teams that play good football. Watch teams with good head coaches. Watch teams that can avoid injuries. Great coaches have a vision of what their team will look like in December. I think Andy Reid has a vision of what this team will look like in December.”
On tonight’s matchup: He said the Eagles linebackers and safeties need to force Matt Forte to run inside. He also said the Eagles have a ferocious pass rush and while Cutler is “one tough hombre,” he has taken a lot of hits and you never know when he might not get up. He also said he expected Eagles tight end Brent Celek to have a big night. And watch for DeSean Jackson, who excels against Cover 2 defenses.