Wake-Up Call: Owners Meetings Begin

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ORLANDO — The NFL big dogs aren’t exactly roughing it this week.

The owners meetings officially get underway this morning but by Sunday the plush Ritz-Carlton, nestled next to a golf course on a picturesque plot of warm Orlando soil, was buzzing with league executives and coaches. There’s some business to attend to between now and when the meetings close on Wednesday afternoon but it’s very much a social scene — team brass rubbing with team brass over long dinners, a late-night cocktail or a quick nine. Not a bad setting if you wanted to, say, casually discuss a certain 27-year-old Pro Bowl receiver while smoking a cigar fountain-side. Read more »

Eagles Release Jason Avant

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers

The Eagles have released veteran wide receiver Jason Avant, the team announced.

“In the year I spent with Jason, he was unbelievable in terms of his work ethic and his selfless nature,” said Chip Kelly in a statement. “He was a great teammate. We know he will have a chance to sign with another team and by releasing him now, he will have a full offseason to make the necessary adjustments. I had a chance to speak with him today and he handled himself like the true professional he is.” Read more »

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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