The 2013 season was a great ride with a frustrating finish. Because there was so much new and different about the Eagles, the loss to the Saints didn’t leave a sense of doom, but rather a sense of optimism.
Donovan McNabb, doing radio work for NBC, interviewed Jeff Lurie in New York. Les Bowen wrote about the interview.
McNabb asked Lurie “how excited” the chairman is about Kelly, and surprisingly enough, the answer was, pretty darned excited.
“He’s an incredible leader. He brings everybody together. He wants to make players have long, healthy careers, and he’s got a plan,” Lurie said. “And, boy, when you buy into that plan, you don’t get hurt very often, and you can really feel your body at the end of the year. Every player came to me at the end of the year and said, ‘I’ve never felt like this before.’
“So, good young team, and he’s been a linchpin in really doing so many things that are dynamic.”
McNabb asked what Lurie foresees for the Eagles in 2014.
“I just think his program will take hold – it’ll be an entire offseason based around his program. Nick Foles, you know, did such a great job, and he didn’t really have a chance to practice with the first team until the middle of the season, and you saw what he did with the team. So, I think it’s a good young team that completely buys in, loves playing in Philly and loves playing under Chip and the coaching staff, so it should only get better,” Lurie said.
I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely excited.
What about the players?
“I think there’s going to be a lot of growth from year 1 to year 2,” said Barwin. “Our defense got better and evolved as the season went on, and I like where we ended at. We’ll have a better starting point from where we were last year. We’re just going to grow, and it’s not going to take the 8 weeks or whatever it took to install all of this, that we had to do with new coaches.”
While there is optimism, there is also a sense of reality. Listen to some of Nick Foles comments from his interview with Dan Patrick.
Foles made sure to say that you have to keep working. He’s not getting caught up in the hype of 2013’s success.
The last few teams of the Reid era were too quick to self-praise. The word “great” was thrown around left and right, despite the fact the team had nothing to show for it. There was a lot of talk about the Super Bowl.
This team feels different. Kelly has been able to keep them focused so far. Being optimistic is good. Being over-confident is how a good season doesn’t get repeated. Chip Kelly has preached the right message to this team and they’ve really bought in. As for any talk of the Super Bowl, Kelly has all but banned players and coaches from saying those two words.
Time is the ultimate test for Kelly’s message and the team’s attitude. The Eagles have to produce results on the field. Saying all the right things is good, but those words won’t mean anything without wins to back them up.
We’ve talked a lot about how the 2014 Eagles need to be different than the 2013 Skins. Foles is staying more grounded than RG3, who really got caught up in the hype. That made coming back from an ACL tear even more complicated than it should have been. The Eagles also have unity between the coaches and players. That is huge.
2014 should be one interesting season.
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Speaking of unity…
Here is a good blurb from Les Bowen’s article on the McNabb-Lurie interview.
McNabb, the Eagles’ all-time passing leader, here working for NBC Radio, asked Lurie about turmoil in Washington and Dallas, and how he has been able to keep things “in house in Philadelphia.”
“Well, you know, we’ve always been able to do that pretty well, except for 1 year with 81,” Lurie said. “I think when you have strong leadership at the coaching level, and you empower the coach and the coaching staff, you have a lot more stability. The players know who to turn to. With Andy Reid and [then] Chip Kelly, there’s no question who the boss is of the players; that’s who can help them and develop them and protect them. We’ve always believed in that. I think we’ve got a good young team, a real good young quarterback, but we’ve got to get better. If we’re complacent, we’re going to go downhill.”
The trade to Indianapolis didn’t come as a surprise to anyone, including Justice.
“You’d like to finish your career where you started it, but it seldom works out like that,” Justice said. “I was traded, but it wasn’t like a disrespectful get-him-out-of-here trade. Andy Reid and Howie Roseman, they treated me better than I ever could have expected.
“They actually asked me, ‘Do you want to go [to the Colts]? Are you sure?’ They didn’t just say, ‘Hey, you’ve been traded to the Colts. It’s been nice knowing you. To me, [Reid and Roseman] really cared. You don’t really find that in the NFL a lot as far as what I experienced with those two guys.”
No one is trying to make the Eagles out to be Mother Teresa, but you can see the value in having organizational structure and everyone being on the same page. Everyone knows their role. You then make consensus decisions and that should help you treat the players well. There is value in that. Players talk. They spread the word about which teams you want to play for and which ones you don’t.
I don’t think we give Jeffrey Lurie enough credit for being a good owner. He creates the right environment for the coaches and executives. Lurie lets the football people do football things. He’s involved with key decisions, but isn’t going to micro-manage men who are specialists at what they do.
Lurie hasn’t won a Super Bowl yet, but he’s proven to be a good owner in his 20 years with the Eagles.
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The other topic of note is Philadelphia getting to host a Super Bowl. That would be cool, but I can’t say I would get overly fired up one way or the other. I’m more interested in the Eagles getting to play in the game than the city of Philly getting to host it.