Jeffrey Lurie downplayed the perception that Chip Kelly's sway over the Eagles has increased in one year following his successful rookie campaign as coach.
“It’s funny because within in the building it’s such a team approach," Lurie said. "I think one of the reasons he’s been successful, his staff has been successful is it’s been such an excellent team approach, whether it’s dealing with player personnel, dealing with the trainers, dealing with sports science.
"Everyone is humble about it. Nobody is trying to take responsibility for anything. It’s strictly to be better than 31 other teams you better be a really good team. It’s just not about one person.”
Lurie met with reporters following training camp practice at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday. He touched on several topics, saying the bar of expectations for Kelly wasn't raised just because the Eagles reached the playoffs last season. Lurie also said that he didn't know if Nick Foles would end up the team's "franchise" quarterback.
Should Chip Kelly have more say on Eagles personnel decisions?
“I don’t think you can evaluate it that way," Lurie said when asked if he expected improvement based on how previous coaches he's had fared in their second years. "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 his patience with Kelly and the Eagles, though, Lurie did concede that expectations naturally rise with success.
“It’ll rise every year because you just want to get better and better," Lurie said. "You never want to plateau out. Getting better every day is my expectation.”
Lurie has set the bar before. Following the 2012 season, he said that the Eagles had to finish better than 8-8 if Andy Reid was to return. The Eagles finished 4-12 that year and Reid was fired. Kelly was hired a few weeks later.
Upon his hiring, Kelly said that he didn't care much about dealing with the business side of running the Eagles. General manager Howie Roseman is in charge of contracts, negotiations and the salary cap. But he also heads the personnel department. Roseman 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 that played for Kelly at Oregon.
The Eagles have also undergone dramatic change beyond the scenes from their sports science program to the shortening of meetings -- all seemingly by Kelly's design.
“Sports science is something important to us," Lurie said. "It’s something we wanted to do for a long time. Chip’s been leading the way and it’s been great.”
In April, Lurie said that it was Kelly who made the ultimate decision to release wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Roseman has said he was in favor of the move, as well.
Lurie is in his 20th year as Eagles owner. He has yet to win a Super Bowl despite falling short once in the final game of the season and missing several chances to reach the title game after losing in the NFC Championship.
"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.”
Lurie was asked if he could look at past missed opportunities logically even though he is emotionally invested in the Eagles.
“I’m so emotionally attached and wear it every day," Lurie said. "You can get to that and you can get to that after the season. And say, ‘In that championship game against St. Louis, if Troy Vincent hadn’t been hurt, [Correll] Buckhalter hadn’t got hurt, maybe we would have been in the Super Bowl that year.’ That’s looking back. At the moment, you’re just so emotionally attached.”
Reid's Eagles won the NFC East in his second season and advanced past the first round. In his third season, the Eagles reached the NFC championship and lost to the Rams, as Lurie referenced above. The Eagles lost the conference title game three years straight before getting past that hump in 2004. They lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Lurie agreed with a questioner that the current Eagles reminded him of the early Reid Eagles.
“It’s a little bit like that I think," Lurie said. "I’ve thought of it. You got a very young team, … and a new coach and coaching staff in their second year and you got a young quarterback coming off an outstanding first season. So there are some similarities.”
The Eagles had a significant financial commitment to former quarterback Donovan McNabb. They do not yet to Foles, who is entering his third season. This could be a make-or-break season for him.
“I have no idea," Lurie said when asked if he thought Foles could be a franchise quarterback. "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.”