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.”

Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

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.

Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: On Roseman, Kelly And Gamble

Howie Roseman has been hesitant to offer a straight answer.

Perhaps he doesn’t want to feed into the perception that he’s a power-hungry GM looking for maximum control. Or maybe it’s just a matter of Chip Kelly wanting the organization to project a team-oriented approach in all aspects of the operation.

But asked many times over the past few months who has the final say on draft picks, Roseman has given different variations of the same response.

It’s a collaborative effort.

It’s an organizational pick.

We’re working together to make sure we get a good football player.

Back in January, on the same day Jeffrey Lurie fired Andy Reid, he gave Roseman a strong vote of confidence, saying he only held the Eagles’ GM responsible for the 2012 draft. Lurie, one of the few men who’s been privy to the behind-the-scenes decision-making, sent Joe Banner and Reid packing.

Yet he gave Roseman added responsibility. So even if no one wants to come out and say it, the draft is his baby.

“What we do is, as a scouting staff, we’’re watching 600 guys,” Roseman said. “And we’’re narrowing those down. Think of it like a funnel. We’’re narrowing down to then the coaches get involved, they’’re the guys that we’’re really excited about. And then we’’re handing them to the coaches to evaluate and getting heir feedback on those guys.””

Kelly wasn’t hired until mid-January. He didn’t have his staff in place until the second week of February. By that point, the Eagles were a little more than a month away from the start of free agency.

In other words, he’s had a full plate. Kelly definitely has a say and has given Roseman parameters for different positions, based on scheme and preference. The Birds’ head coach also has an advantage, having come from the college ranks. Kelly sets the guidelines, but it’s on Roseman and his staff to deliver the goods.

This year, the Eagles’ GM has the help of new vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble. The Eagles brought Gamble on board in mid-February, and Roseman said he’s been a big help throughout the evaluation process.

“By the time we got him in, having some experience, going on the road in the fall, having his own opinions, not being influenced by our draft meetings, those conversations, that insight’s’ been extremely invaluable,” Roseman said. “A huge addition to our staff.””

So in reality, it is a collaborative effort. Roseman, Gamble, Kelly, scouts, assistants and others.

But down the road, when it comes time to judge the success of the 2013 class, it’ll be the GM’s name attached to the picks.

WHAT YOU MISSED

For the Eagles and Roseman, offensive tackle seems like the safest bet, writes T-Mac.

What’s the likelihood of the Birds trading down? Here’s the rundown.

Reading between the lines, it doesn’t sound like the Eagles are targeting Geno Smith.

One national report links the Birds to Utah DT Star Lotulelei.

The Eagles released quarterback Trent Edwards.

Tim takes a look at the team’s situation at wide receiver.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com takes a look at some later-round QB options, including Arizona’s Matt Scott:

While he has the physical ability to be an NFL QB, he needs to work on his QB skills.  I don’t think Scott can challenge for a job initially.  I think he’ll need a season of coaching.  The reasons to love him are his running ability and the fact he’s a natural passer.  He has a good arm and quick release.  He has pretty good accuracy.  Scott did throw 14 INTs.  He simply makes bad decisions on some throws.  Aggressive is good, but you don’t want to force the ball into a situation where there is more chance for a bad outcome than good.  Scott did that at times.

NFL.com goes over the best and worst all-time picks for each franchise. Freddie Mitchell makes the list as one of the Eagles’ worst:

The Eagles were in desperate need of a playmaking receiver when they used the 25th overall pick in 2001 on UCLA’s Mitchell. What they got was a guy who never cracked 500 yards in a season and scored only five touchdowns during a 63-game run in Philadelphia.

COMING UP

The Eagles begin a three-day minicamp. We’ll hear from Kelly this afternoon.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

The Eagles In A Flat-Cap World

One of the most interesting scenes at the owners meetings in Phoenix last week came courtesy of Patriots owner Robert Kraft. He stopped to meet with a group of reporters outside of the Biltmore Hotel and, having just lost Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos, stepped out of character and went into great detail to explain why the Pats were unable to strike a deal with the popular wideout. In his efforts to paint New England in a better light, he allowed us a peek at the new NFL business model.

“Let me tell you what has happened in the NFL this year: The top 25 players  have received 700 million dollars. How many Pro Bowls  cumulatively do you think those players have gone to? Six,” said Kraft. “That tells you the trend has gone to signing young, up-and coming players.

“There were 52 starters — and a starter is someone that plays more than eight games — who had been cut this year. Forty-one of them are over 30 years old. I don’t think this has ever happened the same way in the league.”

As a member of the labor committee that helped negotiate the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Kraft is fully aware that the flat cap is behind this development. When the salary cap stays at around the same number from year to year but players’ contracts go up, teams have to be even more disciplined in their allocation of resources. As a result older players, whose projected production might not be in line with their salary demands, are hitting the streets with greater frequency. From Welker to James Harrison to Brian Urlacher to Ed Reed, a good deal of notable names either have a new address or no address at all. Quality, veteran teams like the Ravens and Steelers eventually bang their heads against the financial ceiling.

“Now, you can’t win for long, which is why nobody will ever go to four straight Super Bowls again,” said Bill Polian. “The system is designed to take good teams and rob them of players. That’s the way it is.”

It is a good problem to have if you are the Ravens and have to figure out how to redevelop your core after winning a Super Bowl and identifying a franchise quarterback. For teams like the Eagles, the process is about building and identifying that core.

“You have to set your priorities on your team because you’re going to want to keep your front-line players, and as the cap is flat the contracts are naturally going to rise year to year, and the pay scale is going to rise,” said general manager Howie Roseman. “You have to figure out where your priorities are, where your deal-breakers are, where you can live with maybe a younger player, maybe a more inexpensive player. Those are the decisions you have to make when you live in a flat-cap world.”

The Eagles identified LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Todd Herremans and Trent Cole as pieces they wanted to build around, signing each to contract extensions last offseason. The idea is to hold onto quality, homegrown talent to help establish a proper culture. You rely on the draft to find other key pieces at bargain prices. In a flat-cap market,  drafting well is more important than ever.

Free-agency dollars are spent on young players with upside like Connor Barwin (26), Patrick Chung (25) and Kenny Phillips (26) that are acquired at fair or below-market prices. Hopefully they fit in the locker room and are productive. If not, you cut your losses.

“Now you’ve got a flat cap and not a large, strong free agent class so you have to be more value-oriented,” said Jeffrey Lurie.

“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.”

Invest in your core, supplement that core with quality, inexpensive pieces, have some financial flexibility for a rainy day (like when you discover a franchise quarterback, say) and hope that the group matures into a title contender. The Eagles have a young roster (average age of 26.2) and plenty of cap room at their disposal (around $23 million). Now comes the maturity process.

Lurie hopes that when he faces a situation a few years from now like Kraft did with Welker, that he will do so from a similar position of strength — one that can only come from being a champion.

Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Draft Buzz: Geno Smith’s Journey; Mayock On Manuel

With the draft exactly five weeks away, here are some links and notes worth your time…

Much of the recent conversation in Philadelphia has centered around West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith. Jeffrey Lurie explained why he felt it was necessary to attend Smith’s workout in Morgantown, alongside Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman.

If the Eagles do take Smith with the No. 4 overall pick, they’re expecting him to be the face of the franchise. And while on-field performance comes first, personality and character count as well – especially at quarterback. For some background on where Smith comes from and what his background is like, take a look at this feature from Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN.com.

But when it was over, after a 38-14 loss to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 29, Smith sat dejected on the bus back to the hotel while Spavital tried to tell him what he had meant to West Virginia. Smith didn’t appear to be listening.

“Man, I thought I was playing pretty well,” Smith told him. “But going 7-6 makes me feel like I did nothing this year.”

Spavital, who’s now at Texas A&M, has coached Brandon Weeden and Case Keenum. Spavital says Smith is more prepared for the NFL than any other quarterback he has coached. Smith will surprise people, he said, in part because he can do so many things he wasn’t asked to do the last two seasons at West Virginia.

There’s still the question of whether Smith will even be there at No. 4. It seems unlikely that Andy Reid would take him with the first pick (despite what he says), but Jacksonville and Oakland are still possibilities.

From Don Banks of SI.com:

[Gus] Bradley also echoed what I’ve started hearing a bit from league sources, that Jacksonville was much more impressed with Smith last week than it was prepared to be. Both in his workout and in their one-on-one time. Again, it could be a smoke screen, and the Jaguars have plenty of other needs to address with their first pick. But I wouldn’t dismiss Smith in Jacksonville just yet.

Even if the Eagles don’t take Smith in the first round, they could draft a QB at some point. Arizona’s Matt Scott had an official visit to Philadelphia, and according to Anthony Gimino of the Tuscon Citizen, Kelly made Scott a scholarship offer after he had already committed to Arizona.

“I didn’t really have any interest at that time in changing my decision,” Scott told the paper.

The other name to keep an eye on is Florida State’s EJ Manuel. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock recently had some positive things to say about Manuel.

“I think he’s a better prospect than Christian Ponder was two years ago with more upside,” Mayock said, per NFL.com.

“In all honesty, I had Ponder a second-round guy and Minnesota took him pretty high, and the jury is still out there. I think this kid (Manuel) has better arm talent, he’s a bigger, more physical specimen and really his ceiling is higher. Now, I don’t know if his floor is as high, but his ceiling is higher.”

Mayock has Manuel listed as his second-best quarterback behind Smith, and he said during a Sirius XM interview that he believes three QBs will be taken in the first round. If he’s right, there’s a good chance Manuel might not even be there when the Eagles select in the second round.

But not everyone’s sold. Here’s Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com on Manuel:

As T-Mac reported earlier this week, the Eagles have scheduled a March 28 workout with Manuel in Tallahassee.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Notes From the Owners Meetings

PHOENIX – Some notes and nuggets from a couple worthwhile days here at the owners meetings:

John Harbaugh made a point during the AFC coaches breakfast to say: “You can’t have enough corners.” He said it twice, actually. It makes you wonder why he let Cary Williams walk. The Ravens coach had nice things to say about Williams, though, when asked about him.

“Cary is a good man. He is a good family man. He loves his kids, he loves his wife. He’s dedicated to the game. He’ll give you everything he’s got. He’s a very emotional guy, he really cares,” said Harbaugh. “He’s long and he’s fast and he’s got good ball skills, so I think Philly has a really good player.”

— Texans head coach Gary Kubiak sounded legitimately disappointed that they were unable to keep outside linebacker Connor Barwin.

“Boy, I really hate to lose him,” he said. “I think the world of him. I have a great relationship with him and he’ll do a great job for you. He loves to play, and as a coach all you can ask for is a guy that gives you everything he’s got every week, and he’s one of those players.”

Kubiak said that Houston tried to get something done with Barwin last year, but couldn’t come to an agreement. Despite the statistical drop from 2011 to ’12, he believes Barwin was every bit as good last season as he was the year before when he played more on the open side.

As for tight end James Casey, Kubiak commented on his versatility, said he was a great fit for the Eagles and that Philly is “catching him at the right time.”

— New Chargers head coach Mike McCoy talked about his interview with the Eagles.

“The simplest way to say it is I have the utmost respect for Jeffrey Lurie and the organization,” said McCoy. “The way the interview process went with them, they were very respectful of what I was still working towards — and that was winning a world championship with the Denver Broncos. They came in the afternoon and said, ‘Listen, this is more of a get-to-know-you process here the first time we’re talking to you,  so we respect what you’ve asked for to kind of cut back to a certain extent.

“The way he talked about Andy Reid, a coach he had just fired a couple days ago, and it was the same thing with Andy. The way they talked about each other, he does it the right way.”

Why wasn’t it a fit?

“Every owner, every head coach has to make a decision what is best, and it’s a gut decision. Mr. Lurie made a decision to go in a  certain direction, and that’s the best thing for the Eagles organization.”

— You can tell that Howie Roseman isn’t in serious business mode right now. His job requires him to always be on the clock, but he’s been doing his best to sneak in as much quality time as he can with his wife and kids. On Monday night, the Rosemans sat around a fire pit with with Pete Carroll‘s family roasting marshmallows. These are the kind of sights you will see only in an environment like this.

Chip Kelly seems to be fitting right in to the relaxed atmosphere. Whether hanging out in a lounge chair next to Lurie during a cocktail party or strolling to lunch with Gus Bradley, the casual setting appears to suit him just fine.

— Not everybody is going with the mellow flow. There are not a ton of agents milling around the Biltmore hotel grounds, but power agents Ben Dogra and Drew Rosenhaus are on the prowl looking to find homes for some of their free agents.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil gives us three Eagles numbers that matter. Quality insight as always.

Bill Belichick says that Kelly’s influence on New England’s offense is “very, very limited.”

Reid made it known that Geno Smith is in play for the No. 1 overall pick.

Here is a transcript of Lurie’s session with reporters at the owners meetings.

Kapadia examines the state of the offensive line.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Peter King talked to Roseman about a shift in approach towards free agency.

“It’s hard to bring guys at bigger money than your players and say it’s not going to create a problem.”

Two years ago, the Eagles brought in some big-money guys. Nnamdi Asomugha, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin. The Dream Team. Soon it was The Nightmare Team.

Now, Roseman is running the show — Andy Reid, his godfather, and former boss Joe Banner are in the AFC after a disastrous 2012 — and he was determined to do two things here: get new coach Chip Kelly the players he wanted, and not overpay them. With tight end Brent Celek in the midst of a six-year, $33 milion deal, Roseman was going after the versatile tight end of his dreams, James Casey. But only if the money was right. And it was: three years, $12 million, just $4.02 million in the first year. “Chip took a look at the free-agent tight end tape,” said Roseman, “and he took one look at Casey, and that was his guy.” Same with his other signings — Connor Barwin couldn’t be over Trent Cole, etc.

ESPN has released its pre-draft power rankings. The Eagles come in at No. 26.

Chip Kelly is working on rebuilding the defense, starting with the back end. Still a question mark at QB. (Graziano)

COMING UP

Kelly will spend an hour with the media during the NFC coaches breakfast here in AZ. We’ll let you know what he has to say.

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.”

Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Lurie On Foles: ‘He’s Going To Have A Great Opportunity’

PHOENIX — Much has been made of the fact that Nick Foles doesn’t appear to have the exact skill set that Chip Kelly seems to prefer. Namely, that Kelly likes a QB who poses a threat to run, and Foles is no threat.

Lurie, in a newsy session with a small group of reporters at the owners meetings Monday, spoke highly of the signal-caller.

“I think it’s to be determined but Nick showed an awful lot before he broke his hand,” said the Eagles owner. “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.”

Some other highlights:

— Lurie said that he would push for a Super Bowl in Philadelphia if New York is a success.

“I will, yes I will. If it’s a success New York will help us,” he said.

— On the decision to move training camp to Philadelphia:

“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 tending 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.”

Jeffrey Lurie On Decision To Attend Geno Smith’s Workout

PHOENIX — Jeffrey Lurie addressed a number of topics Monday afternoon at the owners meetings at the Biltmore hotel in Phoenix, including his decision to attend Geno Smith‘s pro day in Morgantown recently.

“It’s a common thing when it’s an important decision,” said the Eagles owner. “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,” Lurie responded. “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.”

Lurie said he probably hadn’t attended a private workout since Donovan McNabb‘s back in 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,” said Lurie. “Just an important pick.”

Lurie generally speaks once during training camp and at the end of the season, but stopped to talk with a small group of reporters outside of the plush Biltmore hotel on the first official day of the meetings.

 

Eagles’ Brass Work Out Geno Smith

The Eagles’ brass traveled to Morgantown, W. Va. today to work out quarterback Geno Smith, a league source confirmed.

Pro Football Talk first had the report.

Chip Kelly, Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie made the trip to meet with Smith, who is expected to be the first quarterback off the board in April’s draft.

This is the time of year where teams do their due diligence on draft prospects. But Lurie’s presence at the workout is interesting. Perhaps the team is really interested in taking Smith with the No. 4 pick, and the owner wants to get a look at the QB prospect. Or perhaps the Eagles want to create the impression that they’re interested in Smith for trade purposes.

Smith (6-2, 218) threw 98 touchdowns and 21 interceptions as a three-year starter for the Mountaineers. He completed 71.2 percent of his passes.

Earlier this month, we rounded up what draft analysts like Mike Mayock and Greg Cosell thought of Smith.

As we’ve stated in the past, the key here is what Kelly thinks of Smith. If he believes Smith has a high ceiling and can be a franchise QB, the Eagles absolutely have to consider him with the No. 4 pick.

A couple weeks ago, I ran down five players the Eagles could take in the first round, and Smith made the cut.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.
« Older Posts  |  Newer Posts »