Lurie is upbeat about the state of the Eagles

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

Jeffrey Lurie praised Chip Kelly and Nick Foles, but the Eagles owner stopped short of raising expectations for his coach and starting quarterback after a better-than-anticipated 2013 season.

During an impromptu interview after Wednesday's practice at the NovaCare Complex, Lurie made it obvious that he is pleased with the state of his franchise.

Kelly guided the Eagles to an NFC East crown in his first year, Foles set NFL records even though he was not the starter for a full season, and the returning team is chock full of talent and youth.

But after 20 years of ownership without a Super Bowl title, Lurie knows that nothing is written in stone - such as the Eagles' taking the next step in Kelly's second season and winning a playoff game.


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"I don't think you can evaluate it that way," Lurie said when asked if he expected improvement based on how previous Eagles coaches fared in Year 2. "I think it's just strictly: young team, get better every day, honestly. You never know what's going to happen if you're lucky to get that far - health, luck."

Pressed about the bar being raised for Kelly and the Eagles, though, Lurie conceded that expectations naturally rise with success.

"It'll rise every year because you just want to get better and better," he said. "You never want to plateau out. Getting better every day is my expectation."

In Andy Reid's first three seasons, his Eagles teams went from 5-11 to 11-5 with a playoff win and 11-5 with an appearance in the 2001 NFC championship game. They lost to the St. Louis Rams and then two more times in the conference title game until they got over the hump in the 2004 season.

Super Bowl XXXIX, which the team lost to the New England Patriots, was as close as Lurie's Eagles got to a title, though. Reid reached the playoffs several times after that, even returning to the NFC championship game once, but the four-year window of 2001-04 was the team's best chance.

Asked if the current team reminded him of the early Reid Eagles, Lurie said there were some similarities with a young team, coach, and quarterback. Did that mean he thought the window of opportunity was similarly a small one?

"No, I don't," Lurie said. "If you can have a really good coaching staff and you can have a really good young quarterback and do a really good job in player personnel and string together multiple successful drafts, your window is not small in the NFL because of the quarterback."

Did that mean he thought Foles, who is entering his third season, has the makings of a franchise quarterback?

"I have no idea," Lurie said. "But I think he's got a lot of the elements we are looking for, and he's a great person, he's a hard worker, and he's going to have an amazing opportunity to get better and better. With the offense and the people we have around him . . . he's got a great opportunity to have another excellent year."

Kelly and his offensive schemes have received the most credit for the Eagles' turnaround. His fingerprints have been all over the changes made to the team, notably the release of Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson in March.

But Lurie downplayed the perception that Kelly's power within the organization had increased after his successful rookie campaign.

"It's funny because within the building, it's such a team approach," Lurie said, adding: "Everyone is humble about it. Nobody is trying to take responsibility for anything. . . . It's just not about one person."

When he was hired, Kelly said he wouldn't be very involved with contracts and the salary cap. That is general manager Howie Roseman's domain. Roseman also is charged with finding players to suit Kelly's needs.

In the 2013 draft, the Eagles selected a number of players Kelly had competed against or had tried to recruit in college. This past May, two of the Eagles' seven draft picks were prospects who played for Kelly at Oregon.

Once asked why he took the Eagles job, Kelly cited Lurie as the No. 1 reason. The 62-year-old Lurie is generally considered to be one of the best owners in professional sports, and his franchise is a model for others. But something is still missing.

"I'm obsessed with it," Lurie said about winning a Super Bowl. "I think if you love the sport as much as I do, and you love this team and this city as much as I do, that's the ultimate goal. Until that happens, it's a hunger."