Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie talked about a number of topics during a lengthy press conference on Tuesday evening at the 2019 NFL owners meetings. Here are some observations about what he had to say.
Lurie has emphatic praise for Carson Wentz
Here’s everything Lurie had to say about the Eagles’ starting quarterback. It comes as no surprise but it’s clear the organization is committed to him as the team’s long-term starter. A big contract extension will be the tangible manifestation of that commitment.
Q: Will you be more involved in Wentz’s contract than others?
LURIE: “We’ve planned for this for a few years. All of our planning is in place to be able to— the blueprint is always, can you find a franchise quarterback? Is he going to be the personality and the leader and the talent that you want? We’re very, very lucky to have somebody like Carson. We’ve planned for this. And that’s exactly where we are going forward.”
Q: Based on his injury history, would you feel comfortable extending his contract this offseason?
LURIE: Yeah. I think, listen, he played his whole rookie year, durable. Absolutely. He’s— when you draw it up, I think he’s exactly what you want. Highly competitive. Very type-A personality. Demanding. Very smart. Obsessed with winning and winning big. Respected by everybody. Just, you know, you can’t really draw it up much better. We’re lucky to have him.
Q: How do you evaluate Carson Wentz based on his personality?
Carson, as I said before, is— when you write it up, it’s exactly what you hope. I think we all love very intense, type-A, driven quarterbacks. And very talented. He’s a terrific leader. From Day 1 on that team, every position, every player I’ve talked to — and we’ve all talked to — are sort of just … impressive young man. Very impressive young man. And that’s Carson. Very impressive young man. Different personality from Nick. And that’s great. We had the benefit of two outstanding personalities. But Carson is kind of the way you draw it up.
Q: Did you have any conversations with Wentz after that PhillyVoice report came out?
No. Well, not at all. The wonderful thing about Carson is he’s humble. He is smart. He has got a feel for every type of person in the building. He’s as nice to the janitor as he is his left tackle. He’s just one of these guys— again, getting back to high integrity, genuine guy. And a regular guy. You hope if you find a very talented quarterback, that he has those characteristics. We’re lucky to have that.
Lurie is really impressed by Doug Pederson
While giving an assessment of the 2018 season, Lurie praised Pederson and his coaching staff for handling the ups and downs of the team coming off their Super Bowl run. Lurie kept referring to Pederson’s resilience as a big positive. Lurie also stressed how Pederson is “genuine” and can bring people together.
These themes have been apparent over the Eagles’ last two seasons. They overcame major injuries to win Super Bowl LII. Pederson then rallied his 4-6 team as they were down 19 to 3 against the Giants in Week 12 to eventually make it to the NFC Divisional Round in 2018.
Pederson’s ability to weather the storm is something that should make people feel good about the Eagles moving forward. There’s always going to be adversity at some point and Pederson has proven he’s capable of handling the tough times.
Kelly Green in 2020?
Lurie said he’s hopeful the Eagles will be able to wear Kelly Green alternates after the 2019 season. [Click here for more on that possibility.]
Lurie didn’t want Nick Foles to remain in the NFC East
Lurie gave a good answer about Foles’ legacy in Philly and how the team decided to move on from him.
“Nick, as you all know, exceptional person. There’s no understating it: exceptional person. And it was hard. We went through every alternative we could think of as an organization on how to proceed here. Really, in the end, I think Nick really did want to have a team to take control of and be the guy. He had just come off winning a Super Bowl, almost taking us back to the Super Bowl. We know him so well, we’re so close to him. I think we just felt like this is what he wanted. It wouldn’t have made sense to franchise Nick, it just wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. He’s going to be— he’s a legend in Philadelphia. He will always be. He’s a part of our family forever. And we’re all really close to him. And he and Carson, they’re different and so terrific, both of them. And they both, I think, benefited from each other in so many ways. It was just a great example of a player we all loved doing the right thing. And supporting him with other teams. I would get asked: “What’s Nick like? Can he be dynamic for anyone but you?” and all that. I just think it’s part of our role — my role, I take it personally — to absolutely be honest and let people know how wonderful he is and what a great leader he is. Terrific quarterback. […] Howie and I had long discussions about [using the franchise tag] and we thought the sooner we [announce not using it], the better because we wanted to give Nick every opportunity to be in the best possible situation and not have a team worry that we were going to potentially keep him and not have the opportunity to start because there aren’t that many opportunities. We were also, to be honest about it, hoping he wouldn’t end up with the Giants or the Redskins and that was part of it. We were very confident he was going to play for Jacksonville.”
Lurie doesn’t want the Cowboys to have an unfair advantage
Lurie explained that the Eagles’ proposal to have the Cowboys and Lions alternate home/away games on Thanksgiving has nothing to do with the holiday tradition itself and everything to do with the issue of competitive balance. He essentially doesn’t think it’s fair that the Cowboys never have to play a Thursday night away game on just a few days rest. And he’s right for thinking that way.
Lurie said the Eagles withdrew their Thanksgiving proposal due to a lack of support but he’s happy to have started a conversation about the issue. Hopefully the league will be open to changing it in the future. If not, the disparity is only going to grow.
Lurie envisions the Eagles replenishing their core
Lurie acknowledged how the Eagles need to get younger and he sees them doing that by potentially making 19 draft picks (plus undrafted free agent additions) in the next 13 months.
Of course, not all their draft picks will work out. Lurie said the Eagles aren’t cocky enough to believe they’ll merely draft way better than anyone else. He said the team believes in volume when it comes to drafting. That’s generally the smart approach: get as many picks as possible in order to increase your odds of drafting good players. Not everyone likes to admit it but there’s an element of luck in drafting.
Lurie continues to value analytics
While Giants general manager Dave Gettleman openly mocks analytics, the 2018 Super Bowl champions are committed to using data to give them an edge. Lurie wouldn’t divulge many specifics about the Eagles’ analytics but he did stress they’re a priority for his organization.
Lurie says the Eagles are “pretty obsessed” with analytics. “It will always be a priority.”— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2019
Lurie is happy to finally have DeSean Jackson back
Lurie says trading for DeSean Jackson this offseason wasn’t the first time the Eagles tried to get him back.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2019
Hm. I wonder when they previously tried to get him back?
Lurie wants the Eagles to get back to drafting quarterbacks
The Eagles haven’t drafted a quarterback since Wentz in 2016. With Nick Foles gone now and Nate Sudfeld set to be an unrestricted free agent next year, it makes sense for Philly to start investing in passing prospects once again. Lurie said he does want to get back to the Andy Reid days of drafting a quarterback “if not every year, every other year.”
The Eagles could easily look to select a developmental quarterback in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Lurie is influential in league policy
Lurie said he’s always been in favor of expanding replay. He specifically mentioned he’s supported Bill Belichick’s proposal to make any play reviewable. Lurie was happy to see Tuesday’s new rules pass through.
Jeffrey Lurie says making pass interference reviewable is important for the “integrity of the game.” #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2019
After opening up by talking about the integrity of the game, Lurie shifted to talking about how safety is getting better due to improved technology and sports science.
Jeffrey Lurie says safety of the NFL is getting better with concussions down 29% and games missed by quarterbacks down 45% in 2018. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2019
Lurie is actually an NFL owner who supports fun. How about that!
Jeffery Lurie says he’s all for touchdown celebrations in the NFL. He says he’s voted against proposals that’ve tried to limit celebrating. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2019
Lurie isn’t a fan of shortened overtime in the regular season. I have to say I agree. Who wants an increased chance of a tie? And why are we putting so much weight on the coin toss? Lurie’s idea about giving the ball first to the team with more regulation touchdowns scored in the game is an interesting one. He acknowledged it’s likely to be the same number but his goal is to introduce more merit and less luck into the current format.
Lurie doesn’t like shortened overtime in the regular season. Says it puts too much emphasis on winning the coin toss.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2019
“It makes no sense to me. Someday I hope we can get that changed.”
He suggested teams should be rewarded for being the team that scores more regulation TDs.