PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Jeffrey Lurie would love to see a Hail Mary, but he’ll be more than happy with a shorter forward pass.
As the Eagles prepare to kickoff their 2017 season, the Eagles’ owner took time for his annual state of the team address to the media on Thursday and was, as expected, excited about the 2017 campaign.
However, Lurie was taking a realistic approach to a team which underwent a host of changes over the past two seasons. For Lurie, the playoffs would be exciting, but progress is first on the list.
“The expectation this year is that we have improved the team,” said Lurie. “Who knows how the season’s going to go in terms of injuries, whether chemistry comes together. Every season’s a marathon. It’s not determined until you really look back on it and what happened and how successful were you.”
Much of the Eagles success will depend on the development of Carson Wentz. The second-year quarterback appears to have the potential to be the team’s franchise signal caller for the foreseeable future.
Lurie has taken a look at the recent history of successful young quarterbacks in the NFL as a model for Wentz heading into the next few years.
“We look around,” Lurie said. “We see the good, young quarterbacks, how they do in their second year, how the teams do in their second year. It’s not so much these young quarterbacks don’t evolve. I think there’s a similarity to the way Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, you name it, the ones that are successful, you can see Year One, Year Two, Year Three. My expectation with Carson is he’ll be better in Year Two than Year One, he’ll significantly be better in Year Three than Year Two and he’ll be significantly better in Year Four than Year Three.”
The architect of the Eagles’ rebuilding project has been General Manager Howie Roseman. After being sent to the sidelines during Chip Kelly’s tenure, Roseman has made a host of moves over the past two years. Lurie had high praise for his G.M. and believes Roseman has been able to rebuild the team without taking the tank approach.
“Some franchises you can see it happening now with this potential quarterback draft class,” said Lurie. “They’re just trading away assets and trying to get draft picks. We’ve taken the philosophy that we can try to find a way to get a franchise quarterback and then try to really maximize both the short-term and the long-term as best you can. Consistently, every decision for the short-term has been where we don’t sacrifice any midterm or long-term flexibility. That was the absolute standard that we believed in and do believe in.”
There were off the field issues to discuss as well. The NFL has drawn its share of attention for actions by some players on the sidelines before the game. National Anthem protests have become routine by some members of the league, including Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins. Lurie stated that protesting the anthem itself comes across as disrespectful, but he also understands the long-term goals sought by Jenkins.
“I think we sometimes can misinterpret what those are,” Lurie said. “I’ve talked to Malcolm Jenkins about it. He’s very involved in our community here. That’s my involvement with Malcolm. It’s, ‘What can you do as a player to be involved in the community?’ Whether it’s social injustice, whether it’s autism – you name it. There are opportunities to really be proactive.”
It will be all about football on Sunday when the Eagles kickoff the season in Washington. For Lurie, expectations are tempered, but the thought of the brass ring will always be in the back of his mind. Lurie also understands how difficult it is to reach the top of the mountain.
“There are 31 teams that are going to be disappointed,” said Lurie. “That’s the way it works in this league. We all have the same goal: 32 teams want to win the Super Bowl. One will. If you talk to any of the 31 of us, we’re going to say we’re disappointed. That’s the way the NFL works.”