Lurie Talks Super Bowl, Foles And More

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Jeffrey Lurie
was front and center for Roger Goodell‘s state of the NFL press conference in New York Friday. Afterwards, he spoke with the NFL Network about the future of quarterbacks Nick Foles and Michael Vick, the possibility of Philadelphia hosting a Super Bowl, and more. Read more »

Lurie: ‘Just the Tip Of the Iceberg’

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Jeffrey Lurie
addressed the media in the wake of the team’s 26-24 playoff loss to the Saints. Though disappointed by the outcome Saturday night, the Eagles owner is clearly very encouraged about the state of the program after one year under Chip Kelly.

“My expectations were more about making sure we had a terriffic coaching staff that could transform a roster and a group of young players into something special,” he said. “It was not about wins and losses. I was incredibly impressed by how quickly Chip and his staff were able to get this group together and perform extremely well. There is just so many good, young players around this locker room that will be incredibly dedicated when they come back next spring. We know that. Read more »

For Foles, Dallas Now Behind Him

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Arlington, Texas — It  was clear from the early going that Nick Foles was going to have a better day this time around.

The biggest game of Foles’ young career — a Sunday night showdown in Dallas for the NFC East crown — happened to be versus the same Cowboys team that he struggled badly against two months back. That 11-for-29, 80-yard performance, which ended with a concussion, left the quarterback’s future in Philadelphia uncertain.

What followed was one of the more remarkable stories of the year, with Foles leading the Eagles to wins in six of seven games down the stretch while amassing unbelievable personal stats, some 0f which only Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have matched. And now here came the Cowboys again, with the playoffs on the line.

It took less than a quarter for Foles to surpass his numbers from that October 20th game. He ended up 17-of-26 for 263 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 124.4 quarterback rating in the Eagles’ 24-22 division-clinching win. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Chip Kelly, NFC East Champ

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Arlington, Texas — Chip Kelly took the podium with a little water in his eyes and a smudge mark on his right cheek — presumably eye black that rubbed off one of the players during the celebration.

It was late in Dallas but the energy from Sunday night’s breath-stealing conclusion was still dancing in the air. The 16-game schedule was complete. And, though it took everything they had, the Eagles were still standing. Year One of the Chip Kelly era, and the Eagles are NFC East champions.

“I told those guys, I thought the first time I met them that it was a special group. I can’t tell you how much they’ve made this transition for me coming from college to the pros, it was those guys,” said Kelly. “They’ve bought in. It’s an awesome feeling when you can work as hard as they’ve worked and to see it pay off, and the results are you’re 10-6 and you’re division champs, it’s a real credit to those guys. They didn’t flinch.”

Looking back, did you honestly expect this to be the end result to your first regular season?

“I expected us to win,” said Kelly. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Foles And the Golf Analogy

Eagles QB Nick Foles evades the Cowboys' rush. 10/20/13Chip Kelly has a bunch of sayings (“Chipisms” they’ve been called) that he’ll throw out there on occasion to get his point across. A couple examples from Thursday:

On doing things the right way: “Bad habits are like a bed; they’re easy to get into and hard to get out of.”

On the players’ attitudes: “It takes the same amount of time to be miserable as it does to be happy.”

And he’ll deploy an analogy from time to time as well. Like on this day, he compared the quarterback position to golf when discussing the ups and downs of Nick Foles.

“Sometimes that position is a lot like a golfer.  You can go one week and be in contention and you’re leading and you have a great round, and the next week the guy doesn’t make the cut, and that’s unfortunate.  But what we need out of Nick is consistency, and he understands that.”

So what kind of sample size do you need to properly judge a quarterback? Read more »

Lurie: If McNabb Went 1st, James Would’ve Been the Pick

At the time, the 1999 draft was considered to be a great opportunity for teams to find their franchise quarterbacks.

Five of the top 12 picks were signal-callers: Tim Couch (No. 1), McNabb (No. 2), Akili Smith (No. 3), Daunte Culpepper (No. 11) and Cade McNown (No. 12).

But the way Jeffrey Lurie tells it, the only one the Eagles thought was worthy of the second pick was McNabb.

“I remember it like it was yesterday, the details, amazing,” Lurie said. “It was dubbed as sort of the year of the franchise quarterback. New Coach Andy [Reid] was here. We were interviewing all together and very intensely every one of these quarterbacks and the top players at the top of the round with the second pick. This was meant to be a very, very important pick.

“We, ironically, going back, didn’t have a lot of confidence in most of the quarterbacks in that draft. The only quarterback that we all, and Andy leading the way, was very confident in was Donovan. And it wasn’t just his athletic ability. It was his years at Syracuse, his being able to learn a complicated offense, the way he was as a person, stable family background compared to some other quarterbacks both in that draft and elsewhere. So it all came together that that was really the only quarterback that was really far above all the others for us.”

The obvious follow-up question was: What would have happened if the Browns had taken McNabb with the first pick?

“It was really Donovan or ‘yikes.’ ” Lurie said. “What are we going to do? I guess the answer was Edgerrin [James]. We thought this was a potential Hall of Fame running back.

“But it was a no-brainer to go with the potential franchise quarterback [over] the running back, although Edgerrin became a superb player as well.”

That would have been quite the scene. Fans who infamously booed the McNabb pick wanted Ricky Williams. Had Cleveland taken McNabb No. 1 overall, selecting James might have drawn the same reaction.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Forbes: Eagles Worth $1.26 Billion

The Philadelphia Eagles are the 15th-most valuable franchise in the world at $1.26 billion, according to annual rankings released today by Forbes.

Real Madrid tops the list at $3.3 billion.

As a sign of just how popular American football is, 30 of the NFL’s 32 teams made the top-50 list. And the NFC East is the richest division. The Cowboys are worth $2.1 billion, tops in the league. The Redskins are eighth overall at $1.6 billion. And the Giants are ninth at $1.468 billion.

Among NFL teams, the Eagles rank seventh, behind the Cowboys, Patriots ($1.635 billion), Redskins, Giants, Texans ($1.305 billion) and Jets ($1.284 billion).

If you’re wondering about other Philadelphia teams, the only one besides the Eagles to make the list was the Phillies. Worth $893 million, they came in at No. 41.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Report: Eagles Offered Coaching Job To Kevin Sumlin

When Chip Kelly initially turned down Jeffrey Lurie’s offer and decided to go back to Oregon, the Eagles had to shift their attention to other candidates.

You remember many of the names: Gus BradleyBill O’Brien, Brian Kelly and others.

At the time, there were rumors that the team had shown interest in Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin. And according to a report in the San Antonio Express-News, it was more than just a passing interest. While he wouldn’t name the team, Sumlin admitted that he’s had the chance to become an NFL head coach.

While Sumlin didn’t name names concerning who pursued him in the offseason, TexAgs.com co-owner and A&M insider Billy Liucci has said the Philadelphia Eagles and Auburn offered Sumlin head-coaching gigs after A&M’s stunning showing last season, including a 29-24 road upset of national champion Alabama.

Obviously, it’s a moot point now. Kelly took some extra time to think about the opportunity and ultimately decided to make the leap to the NFL. He was the first coach the Eagles’ brass targeted, and he ended up being the guy they landed.

But according to the report, Sumlin had a chance to come to Philadelphia. Instead, he chose to stay put with the Aggies and received a $1.1 million raise.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Unveil $125 Million Plan For the Linc

The Eagles have released the details of the $125 million revitalization project already underway at Lincoln Financial Field.

The 10-year-old stadium is undergoing a significant make-over in an effort to enhance the fans’ gameday experience.

“We have had discussions with season-ticket holders over the past couple of seasons to find out what was important to them,” said team president Don Smolenski. “We listened and developed a plan of action. The revitalization of Lincoln Financial Field that will take place over the next two years is a direct result of those conversations.”

Some of the changes will be much more noticeable than others. They include:

HD Video Boards

New high-definition video boards in both end zones along with an upgraded sound system. The boards will have the ability to expand in size (over the advertisements) to accentuate a big moment. LED ribbon-board displays will be placed along each side of the stadium to make it easier to get real-time stats and scores.

 

Seating Bowl Expansion

An additional 1,600 seats will be added (an estimated 800 in the Southwest corner, 600 in the Northeast corner and 200 in the Northwest corner).

The extra seats will further close in the stadium, which in theory should help keep more of the noise in.

“We’ve been very happy with the sound,” said Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, “but we never want to sacrifice. We want to keep the sound in – that’s big.”

Two bridges will be built in the Southwest corner that will allow fans in the upper concourse to get from the home to the visiting side of the stadium easier. And a new escalator will be built on the west side.

Showcasing Eagles History

There will be images of the best players and moments displayed throughout the lower and upper concourses, as well as the club and suite levels.

Change At the Gates

The three main gate entrances will be expanded so that fans can get into the stadium more quickly. At the Verizon Wireless entrance, you’ll see that the gate is actually being moved to the bottom of the steps.

Wi-Fi

An integrated Wi-Fi system will be installed that will feature 600 access points that are expected to accommodate 40,000 simultaneous users. Access to Wi-Fi will be free of charge.

Suite And Club Level Enhancements

All of the suites will be refurbished, and will feature personally selected images of the best players and moments in Eagles history. A food market will be installed in each club lounge. And the Touchdown Club will move inside and housed in a 5,000 square-foot space.

Retired Numbers/Banners

The retired numbers will be displayed in the stadium bowl. On the opposite side, banners reflecting team accomplishments (conference and division titles, etc.).

The historical imagery, entrance gate expansion, Wi-Fi system, concession-stand upgrades, Touchdown Club and suite renovations and pro-shop expansions are to be completed for the upcoming season, according to the team.

The video boards, bridges and club-level enhancements won’t be in place until next season.

Why all the changes? Teams are competing with the couch, essentially.

Watching the games at home in HD with quick access to your fantasy scores and the Red Zone channel is good living. The quality of the home-viewing experience “requires teams to be very vigilant about investing in their relatively new stadiums,” said Lurie. “You can let it play out until you are really sort of behind the 8-ball as a stadium; why not take it and be ahead of the curve? That’s what this is all about.”

No public funds are being used for this renovation, according to the team. The money will come from the Eagles, and the NFL will be providing financing support. This project is completely separate from the green initiative (solar panels, etc.) going on at the Linc.

Lurie stated earlier this offseason that he will push for Philadelphia to host a Super Bowl if New York is a success next year. While the renovations aren’t being done specifically with the Super Bowl in mind, the Eagles’ owner knows it can’t hurt their chances.

“When you are bidding for a Super Bowl the committee looks very closely at your stadium, your city, what you can host. Philadelphia would be a great place,” he said.

Leading up to this project the Eagles explored the idea of a retractable roof (and even asked if it was possible to put on a temporary roof if they were to host the Super Bowl). Ultimately they deemed that to be too large of an undertaking.

“And do our fans really want to have a permanent roof? I don’t think so,” said Lurie. “We’ve always surveyed our fans, when we built the stadium, do you they to have a domed stadium? And it was very obvious of course not in Philadelphia.”

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Eagles Draft: Sorting Through The Intel

Much has been written about the Eagles and their plans for the draft, which all of a sudden is right on our doorstep. We have heard hundreds of opinions. But at the end of the day, it is the opinions of the key decision-makers inside the NovaCare walls that matter.

Howie Roseman, Chip Kelly and Jeffrey Lurie are in no hurry to divulge their plans, of course. It does them no good. Misdirection gets them farther than truth-telling this time of year. But if we sift through what has been said over the weeks leading up to the draft, maybe we can see the overall picture a little more clearly.

Let’s look at a few key quotes from the powers-that-be and try to find a kernel or two:

Howie Roseman on the strength of the draft: 

“You talk about the offensive line, obviously. There are some really talented offensive linemen in this draft, defensive linemen. This is a really meat and potatoes draft, certainly early in the first couple of rounds with lineman, which is exciting. It may not be the flashiest thing, but it’s exciting. It’s hard to find big guys who can move, play with power, and there are a lot of guys in this draft.”

Quick thought: “Big guys who can move” early in this draft include Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, Sharrif Floyd, Sheldon Richardson and Star Lotulelei. I don’t believe Roseman is trying to throw us off the scent here. The early portion of this draft is largely about the big men, most agree. It also needs to be noted that he thinks there are quality linemen throughout the draft as well.

Chip Kelly on the 2013 class:

“I think the draft has depth.  I don’t think ‑‑ there is not an Andrew Luck or RG3 or someone that you say that guy’s going to be a ten‑year all pro, one of the best.  I had the opportunity fortunately or unfortunately to coach against Andrew Luck in our league.  So he was as close as there was to a can’t miss guy.  I don’t see that type of guy in this draft at any position, to be honest with you.”

Quick thought: What pops into my mind is: If there is no “cant miss” quarterback in the head coach’s opinion, how could you possibly gamble on one with the fourth pick? You can’t.

Jeffrey Lurie, on the decision to attend Geno Smith’s private workout [the first such trip since he looked at Donovan McNabb back in 1999]:

“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.”

Quick thought: The visit tells me that they were entertaining the idea of drafting Smith. I don’t think ultimately they will. But if you were sold on the quarterbacks on your roster, would you be exploring the possibility to the degree they have? Likely not.

Interesting to me that Lurie threw in “if we stay at No. 4 there.” Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s a tiny peek behind the curtain.

Howie Roseman on defensive players in the draft:

“The safeties in the draft is an encouraging group. You compare it to the last couple of years, and there might be more guys who go in the first three or four rounds this year than have gone in the last couple of years combined. So to find those guys that we’ve talked about in these settings, about how hard it is to find safeties, so obviously that’s an encouraging sign as we go through this draft process. The corners as well. It may not be a group where you see 4 or 5 drafted in the first round, but there will be a run on corners at some point in this draft. It’s a talented group. The same thing at the LB spot. Pass rushers are going to go quick like they always do. There may not be much of a run in the second or third round as you’d normally see with pass rushers. But I think there are high quality ones at the top and they’ll go quick.”

Quick thought: Some good information in here that perhaps gives us a better understanding of the Eagles’ board. One message is: if you want a pass rusher, you better get one early. Keep in mind that the Eagles intend to stay disciplined and will not reach for a certain position just because of scarcity. But maybe it’s a tie-breaker if two players with similar grades are sitting there at 4. The obvious name is Dion Jordan. If he is not the pick, then it’s possible the Eagles go into the 2013 campaign with largely the same pass-rushing group that is already in place.

Roseman seems to like the safety and cornerback class. Assuming everything falls right, I would expect the Eagles to target the secondary a healthy amount.

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