Q&A With Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie

PHOENIX — Jeffrey Lurie held a media session with a small group of reporters outside of the Biltmore hotel Monday that lasted close to 15 minutes. He rarely talks, so we figured we would share most of what he had to say. This is how a bulk of the Q&A went:

Thoughts on training camp move:

“We had a wonderful experience with Lehigh. They were fantastic. I loved the fan engagement there. I think with NovaCare being one of the top facilities — teams are really trending towards bringing it all to their home facility, and finding ways as Don [Smolenski] has done to really have some great fan engagement during that process in the stadium. It’s bringing it into the city, which we haven’t done for a while, and that’s exciting, too. Real exciting.

“It’s interesting when we interviewed coaches, we asked every coach what would they prefer because we tend to defer to the coach on this. And it was unanimous that every coach we interviewed I think that they wanted training camp, if you have a great facility, to be seamless with the facility the players are going to be training in year-round. But everyone is wanting real fan engagement during that period – that’s the goal, and so we are going to do that out at the stadium as opposed to Lehigh.”

On decision to attend Geno Smith’s private workout:

“It’s a common thing when it’s an important decision. We haven’t had a high draft pick for 14 years, and I think it’s true with anybody that we’re going to look at that you want to have all the information you can. It’s a very important decision for us if we stay at No. 4 there.”

So you will be going to the workouts for all the potential picks at No. 4?

“Not necessarily. When you select a quarterback it’s a very big decision so you want to have every piece of information you can and just have as many eyes on it. Nothing more than that, but it’s an important thing.”

What are you impressions of Chip Kelly so far?

“Superb. You are dealing with someone who is obsessed with football, obsessed with winning, and a very, very bright man.”

Has there been an organizational philosophy shift when it comes to free agency?

“I would say it’s year-by-year. Look at it, you have to maximize the market that’s there. It was a unique opportunity a couple years ago that we tried to maximize that did not work out well for us, but we reacted to a market situation a couple years ago where you had multiple classes of free agents and we had cap room to do it. Now you’ve got a flat cap and not a large, strong free agent class so you have to be more value-oriented. So we just adjust to what we think can maximize the benefits of that particular free-agent class and where we are as a franchise. There is no permanent, ideological change.

“It’s no different than the stock market. You’re not going to have a permanent philosophy for 10 years, you are going to adapt to the economic situation — what the opportunities are, the risk-reward – and try to maximize your situation.”

Where do you put your expectations for Year 1 of the Chip Kelly era?

“I would just term it as very excited. I don’t think you can institute a complete culture change and implement everything Chip wants to accomplish just by having one training camp and one offseason, but we’re just awfully excited about what he brings to it and his obsession with it. His manner of analysis and thinking is refreshing and very bright. And we hope that is reflected as time goes by.”

What lessons were learned from the ‘Dream Team’ experiment?

“First of all, not to have a player come in and call it a dream team, because we never thought that. And if you go back to the press conference I had before that season I thought we were still in catch-up mode. In that stage we were coming off a season where Michael Vick was regarded as one of the two co-MVPs of the league, and we were able to supplement that and like I said the market was a double-class market, and we decided to do that. I don’t think you can take universal lessons. It’s like Ryan Leaf, does that mean you don’t step up and draft Philip Rivers or Eli Manning? No, you understand you made an error in judgment on Ryan Leaf and you move forward. There were some players we could have signed and we chose other players, and it was a mis-evaluation maybe of how they would fit in, but I don’t think you take any reticence of it or become risk-averse. We tend to always want to be aggressive and I hope we’ll always maintain that.”

Considering it’s March 18 and still snowing in New York do you have any second thoughts about your Super Bowl vote?

“I don’t at all. Growing up in Boston I went to more great games in snow conditions, some of the most memorable games I’ve been to were very difficult and wonderful conditions. I would have no fear if it was snowing. As long as there was no public safety issue that day, I think it would be great if it was snowing a bit.”

If it is a success in New York will you push for Philadelphia to have a Super Bowl?

“I will. Yes I will. If it’s a success, New York will help us.

Chip seems to like quarterbacks who are a threat to run. How do you see it working with Nick Foles?

“I think it’s to be determined but Nick showed an awful lot before he broke his hand. Poise and accuracy. We’re real excited about Nick. I think the best thing is to say to be determined how it’s going to work, but he’s going to have a great opportunity. He’s really bright, he’s a very hard worker, he has all the intangibles. We just have to see how he can maximize it or not.”

Back to the West Virginia trip, when was the last time you remember taking a prospect visit or scouting visit?

“I think the last time I did was Donovan McNabb that year [1999]. It’s also probably the last time we had a ‘lottery pick.’ I don’t expect to probably be doing it in the future, but it doesn’t have to be a lottery pick. Just an important pick.”

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  • http://twitter.com/ScottJ610 Scott J

    Moving training camp was just another way for the Eagles to make more money from their concession stands.

    • borntosuffer

      Yea, that’s what Chip was thinking when he stated he wanted to practice in Philly.

  • hillbillybirdsfan

    I liked Lehigh, but it’s starting to become a negative as far as attracting players. If two thirds of the league is sleeping in their own beds instead of cinder-block dorms, and practicing indoors in bad weather rather than doing a walk-through in a basketball gym then that is an advantage for them. I love the idea of the players bonding with the fans and each other in an old-school training camp like that but I am guessing they probably don’t.

  • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

    This whole Lurie-first-trip-since-McNabb narrative makes it seem like a pretty big smoke screen. But then again, maybe that’s what they want everyone to think.

    But that raises another question, what exactly is the point of faking interest in a player? If a team wants him and they think you’re interested they’ll have to jump you. I guess it ensures that someone else will fall a spot.

    • MAC

      I understand why some think it’s a smoke screen. However if that is all Lurie’s presence was it doesn’t make sense. There are ways to smokescreen without bringing Lurie. You could just be the first team to work him out as they were. You can leak stories of interest or make subtle comments to media on purpose. Bringing Lurie in my opinion means they are interested. I do think that if Smith is there at #4 the Eagles will most likely take him. I do also think that if some team blew them away with an offer for that spot they would be open to trading it. If they can’t get Smith I think they would prefer to move back, but I am not sure there will be a good enough offer to move back. Bringing Lurie to me is most likely a sincere interest in taking Geno. If wanted to just smoke screen there are other easier ways to do it. Smith fits the attributes of a QB that Kelly seems to value. Even though Smith rarely ran in college his speed shows he is capable and Kelly more likes the threat of a QB running more than a running QB. Smith fits that and Lurie makes me think they are legitimately interested.

      • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

        It’s not the fact that Lurie was there that I think makes it a smoke screen, it’s the fact that he went out of his way to make the point that this was his first trip since McNabb.

        Since when have the Eagles EVER been as transparent as this? Have we as fans ever really had a clue what they were doing, draft or personnel wise, until after it happens? Every word that they say and every move they make is calculated and not without reason. If Geno was their guy, it would be unwise to make it so publicly known. It all smells very fishy.

        I don’t agree with what you’re saying when you say they may like him but if there’s an offer they’ll be willing to trade back. At #4, you can’t be on the fence about a guy. If he’s your guy you need to take him, and if you think he won’t be there then you need to find a way to get him. There is no price that’s too high for your franchise guy, especially in the situation the Eagles are in now. If you’re not sure about him, you don’t take him. It’s as simple as that. Spending this high of a pick on a QB it’s 100% or nothing.

        If Chip drafts Geno at #4 their careers pretty much become tied to each other. If one flops they both will.

        • GGeagle

          Adam, I agree…and I think Lurie made a mistake,in tipping his hand too much! as him about real viable draft picks for the eages such as Dion,Sharrif,Star or Fischer….bet Lurie gets real secretive there and doesn’t give you a single bit of intel…Yet, he wants Geno, so he makes this info public? Why, so the chiefs,Jags,or Raiders can hold us hostage and make us give up value to get him? he messed up, tipping his hand too much.

      • quentin smith

        They are definietly interested. How does Lurie going to West Virginia equate to a smoke screen. Geno is potentially the next face of HIS franchise. Does it not make sense if a player has that potential for me as the owner to go and persnoally see what the kid has athletically and mentally? Dont you think Lurie wanted to see if Geno can represent his franchise before investing in him to do so? Maybe that makes to much sense. I just dont see “smoke screen” when the owner wants a chance to see and meet for himself possibly the next person to be the face of his organization. Am I missing something?

        • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

          Yes, what you’re missing is the way the Eagles operate. They are extremely secretive when it comes to moves they intend to make. Lurie could find out all he found out at his pro day from when they bring Geno in for a workout. When they make it overly obvious like this, it’s usually a ruse.

          • quentin smith

            But that is your and many other fans perception. Yes the Eagles do opperate secretly however if they had a chance to work him out before everyone else got to see him because CK and Howie think he may be a Franchise guy for the team, why wouldnt you as the owner tag along to get an in depth look when the other teams arent there. In my eyes, that alone is secretive. Staying away from the rest of the league to get a look and form your own opinions without the media being there… That to me, one fan, seems more like the way the eagles “opperate” then for Lurie to visit on pro day with the rest of the league… of course this is all of our own personal perceptions for all we know Jeffrey wasnt going to be able to make Geno’s Pro Day and took the chance when he could.

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            There’s nothing secretive about a private workout It’s actually extremely common. This is my opinion yes, but I’m basing my opinion off of historical data. And there would be zero chance Jeffrey could not make Geno’s pro day. This football team is his job/life, and the franchise QB spot is most important. He would be available.

            Like I said, it has nothing to do with the fact that Lurie watched the workout. that makes this fishy. It is the fact that they went out of the way to make sure everyone in the media knew that the last time he did this was when they drafted a QB in the top 5.

          • quentin smith

            I understand your point and agree the comment that he slipped out there was very blatant. Leaves much room for speculation.

  • GGeagle

    I think Lurie tipped his hand too much! I think if there wasnANY SHOT IN HELL that we want Geno, than Lurie would have never been making this info public, and that they would have tried their best to hide it….I mean come on, he just told us the last time he went to watch a prospect was McNabb, do you really think he would get this into it if it were a viable target? ask Lurie abut Dion Jordan, Eric Fisher, or Sharrif Floyd, bet he gets real secretive then!

  • HowieDon’tKnow

    He’s detached from reality. A Super Bowl in Philly. We’ll take a trophy instead of this BS.

  • Bobby

    Like many have said if they’re really interested you wouldn’t get into this much detail about Geno. Lurie would never make it known that the last time he went to a workout was when we drafted McNabb. They obviously like a player that may go in the top 3 so that some team jumps in front of them and takes Geno which would make a player slip to them at 4. If you really like a player you don’t go into much detail like they have.