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 . 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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