Jeffrey Lurie: ‘The End Result Was Mediocrity’

Jeffrey Lurie and Chip Kelly at the press conference announcing Kelly's hiring. (Jeff Fusco)

Jeffrey Lurie and Chip Kelly at the press conference announcing Kelly’s hiring. (Jeff Fusco)

Jeffrey Lurie opened his press conference Tuesday with a light red tie and an opening statement in which he commended Chip Kelly for his work ethic during Kelly’s 47 games as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I really want to publicly thank Chip,” Lurie said. “No one worked harder the last three years. Just a smart guy. It was a bold decision to hire him, and had certainly some success, and I wish him the very best, as I did yesterday.”

Despite early reports that Lurie made his decision to fire Chip Kelly during their meeting Tuesday, Lurie said Wednesday that his decision was made before meeting with Kelly and team president Don Smolenski on Tuesday.

According to Lurie, he took this season, Kelly’s first with control over the team’s personnel, as an indicator of the franchise moving in the wrong direction.

“Last March, I think I spoke to many of you, and I said, with Chip’s vision, it was an opportunity that he wanted to lead the way, to try to go from good to great,” Lurie said. “In fact, I remember saying to all of you, there’s dangers in that, in terms of having two 10-6 seasons in a row, and when making significant changes, you can easily achieve mediocrity.

“I think it would be a shame not to try, but the end result was mediocrity. As the owner of the team, I’ve got to look at the progress and the trajectory of where it’s headed. And it’s disappointing to me, but that is the danger when you take a risk.”

Lurie, contrary to reports, said he did not offer Kelly a reduced role in the organization for next season in which he would serve as the head coach, without the personnel power he was granted this offseason.

“No, I did not offer that,” Lurie said. “It was decided that it was best to go in a different direction.”

Lurie also said that Kelly did not try to make a play to keep his job during the meeting between the two of them and Smolenski.

“No, he did not,” Lurie said. “But the atmosphere was such that I think he knew he was being let go, so, in fairness, that decision was made before Chip met with myself and Don Smolenski.”

Kelly, who won 20 games in his first two seasons but failed to win a playoff game, won just seven of his final 19 games at the helm.

Lurie was asked where he thought the regime went wrong, after a 19-9 start to Kelly’s career in the regular season.

“With a coach, and almost any key executive, it’s important to really carefully evaluate and analyze,” Lurie explained. “Not to be impatient, not to react to a series of games. So every season I have to carefully look over everything, and this was really a three-year evaluation. A three-year evaluation of where we’re heading, what is the trajectory, what is the progress or lack thereof, and what did I anticipate for the foreseeable future. And that’s why the decision was made.”