Here are the full quotes from Jeffrey Lurie’s press conference ahead of the start of the regular season.
JEFFREY LURIE: I just wanted to make myself available a little here (and) share my excitement for the season with our fans. Really that’s the reason. It’s sort of impromptu. I didn’t give any notice. I appreciate you guys coming on short notice, too. I woke up this morning and said, ‘You know, I talked in March extensively about the state of the team, but some of you don’t get to the owners meetings in March.’ So I was thinking, ‘Okay, it’s a good time to do it. I’m excited. Share it with the fans.’
It’s not meant to be a state-of-the-team (address) or anything, just sort of an impromptu thing and have fun, like we did last time.
(I will) open it up to any questions, you guys.
Q. Other than 2015, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman has been the GM since 2010. No playoffs wins during that span. What is your evaluation of him going into this year through this offseason, and what gives you the confidence he’s the guy to build a championship team? (Reuben Frank)
JEFFREY LURIE: I think Howie has done a tremendous job. I have real, total confidence in Howie. The last couple years, (he has made) remarkable franchise-changing decisions. As I’ve said before, it is not easy to not tank and be able to accomplish the goals you want to make in the NFL. It’s so hard to get quarterbacks. The maneuvering, the use of assets the way we did, the identification of the one player that we had a lot of confidence in, (QB) Carson Wentz, at a time when other teams all needed quarterbacks, that’s just one of many, many key things that Howie, the player personnel department, analytics, everybody has participated in, and the coaches in a big way.
Ever since then, it’s been one domino after another in terms of smart moves. Really happy with the additions this offseason, as was last offseason.
In today’s NFL, and I’ve said this before, it’s not simply having, ‘Okay, this is your scout or this is your GM, or whatever.’ Football operations requires enormous processing and identifying of key data. If you don’t a have great player personnel department, an excellent analytics department, really good sports science, top-notch player development, excellent teaching, you’re not going to be the team you want to be.
Howie’s primary function is to organize that and to be the final decision maker when it comes to the key moves we make, and also to structure contracts so that we can maximize our assets.
The way he structured the Sam Bradford contract allowed us to retrieve a first-round draft choice and a fourth-round draft choice. (That is something that is) very hard to accomplish in this league. We also didn’t have a lot of assets to be able to trade up in terms of getting Carson for that No. 2 pick. We were not a 2-14 team. We were going to be drafting 13 (13th overall pick). How do you get there? How do you get up there? We could get to eight. It was a double move. Very rare.
When you look back on the last couple years, very impressive performance. I couldn’t have more confidence in Howie.
Q. Some of the things that Howie has done since the owners meeting: shoring up the secondary, kind of turning a surplus of wide receivers into a strength, or close to building into a strength there, are you satisfied with that? (Nick Fierro)
JEFFREY LURIE: I think it’s being philosophically sharp, which is this: Can you take a patient midterm and long-term view and at the same time maximize short-term opportunities? That’s also not easy to do in the NFL.
What we’ve been able to do I think this off-season is really improve with a lot of good, young players, (and) position ourselves to be able to have the flexibility to re-sign every good player we have, and at the same time adding some one-year players that are very good players, like (WR) Alshon Jeffery and (DT) Timmy Jernigan, where you have the ability to potentially have their rights, extend them, see how they are, and go forward.
That dual purpose, you know, some franchises you can see it happening now with this potential quarterback draft class, 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.
Q. So what specifically is the expectation this year for Head Coach Doug Pederson and for the team? (Zach Berman)
JEFFREY LURIE: Okay, the expectation this year is that we have improved the team. 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.
But I think I love the blueprint we have. I think that we are headed in a terrific direction. Look, I think, honestly, you’re dealing with a team that’s a pretty young team. You have some veterans at select positions like punter, things like that, and left tackle. But basically a young team that has re-signed a lot of players, a lot of the core players, (and the) ability to acquire future players will evolve and have a great opportunity there to do that.
The key is that we have the opportunity to compete strongly now, and that’s what I expect. I expect us to compete strongly. We’re in the second year of a very potentially special, young quarterback. We don’t even know that yet.
So you look around the league. Like all of us, we look around. 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 (Titans QB) Marcus Mariota, (Raiders QB) Derek Carr, (Buccaneers QB) 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.
That’s where we’re at. The difference in records of the teams with all those, you can research it yourself, but it typically I think is how terrific do you surround him. You have young quarterbacks that join teams and take them to the Super Bowl. But those are teams basically that have top two, top three defenses. We hope to be there. We hope to be there. But that’s the rarity.
I see us as a team with an excellent blueprint, great opportunity, terrific direction, but we’re in Year Two of the plan.
Q. Michael Lombardi recently came out strongly criticizing Head Coach Doug Pederson in terms of his qualifications, and made it seem as if he was under the gun in terms of his tenure here. You mentioned improvement and how this is going to be a long haul. What is your endorsement of Doug? Will you stay with him and see this through? (Jeff McLane)
JEFFREY LURIE: I have a strong endorsement of Doug. First of all, those comments, you guys call it ‘Click Bait’ or ‘Hot Takes,’ that’s how I saw that.
But Doug, think about this, I mean, he took over a team that had some locker room issues with the previous head coach. He lost his starting quarterback (eight) days before the start of the season, and was asked to use our young third-string quarterback (Carson Wentz). He had to put together a coaching staff. My personal evaluation of the coaching staff that he put together, or inherited, but was open to inherit, is outstanding. I mean, really outstanding.
That’s a huge credit because quarterback analysis, locker room chemistry, and the ability to put together a top-notch coaching staff, those are three real key ingredients. I think he aced them all.
Yes, there’s going to be growing pains with any first-year head coach. We had that with Andy (Reid), we had it with Chip (Kelly), we’ve had it no matter who it is. I see him as someone who can keep improving. He’s a listener. He’s a collaborator. I think he has terrific relationships with the players. The future is in front of him, and it’s there for the taking.
Q. Would you sign Colin Kaepernick if you had the need at quarterback? What do you think the owners around the league’s responsibility is when it comes to players who are demonstrating in the name of social injustice? (Tim McManus)
JEFFREY LURIE: That’s kind of two questions in one. Let me just focus on social injustice:
It’s a big problem in America, social injustice. It’s a big problem around the globe. Anybody who wants to do proactive things, to try to reverse social injustice, I’m all in favor of. It has to be respectful. It certainly has to respect the military and the people that serve, the women and men that serve our country, emergency responders, whoever that is. You’ve got to, I think, do it in a respectful way.
But I applaud anybody that can find respectful ways of trying to use their platform in some way to discuss social injustice. We all need to discuss it. We’ve all seen it around us. We live in a city that has a lot of it. There are multiple issues. They’re not simply racial issues. There are a lot of economic issues.
Players have grit and determination. There’s no boundary on how that grit and determination gets expressed. I’m not talking about Colin here. I’m just talking about the concept of social injustice in America and elsewhere.
Sports is an opportunity to bring people together. I see it as an opportunity. I applaud when players can bring communities together. We see it all the time, and I think it’s great.
Q. Would you sign Colin Kaepernick? (Tim McManus)
JEFFREY LURIE: I have no idea. We are completely happy with our quarterback situation. So like every position situation, I mean, if that happened, we’d have to fully evaluate it. With (former Eagles QB) Michael Vick, there was a complete vetting of how is he as a teammate? What is his character? What is his potential? What is his football intelligence? Can he be a backup, in Michaels’ situation, or a third string, in that time period? It’s a whole series of evaluations. That’s how we approach any player acquisition. I don’t want to talk about any specific player.
Q. How have you seen Howie Roseman and Vice President of Player Personnel Joe Douglas work together and why are you confident that partnership can work and be the one to lead this organization going forward? (Sheil Kapadia)
JEFFREY LURIE: I’ve been incredibly impressed with the two of them. Howie has been a terrific manager. I think with a lot of self-reflection (he) has become somebody that has organized those multiple departments in a very good way, attracting Joe, [Assistant Director of Player Personnel] Andy [Weidl], and that whole group has been terrific. Joe has just been wonderful to work with. They seem to be working great together.
The nice thing about them is I think they can have a lot of open discussion on every issue. That’s how you reach the best decisions. That’s what I’ve seen. Was very happy with the whole process in the draft this year. I thought it was very thorough. It was very strategic. We knew exactly what we would do if ‘X’ player wasn’t there. It was simply a great discussion about what to do in the second round. That was an upside decision, obviously, with the organization. It hurt the short-term, but we thought it was, looking forward, we don’t expect to be drafting in the top 10 for a while, hopefully for a decade or more. And it’s hard to get cornerbacks that you rate in the Top One or Two in the draft. Very hard to get.
So (we) did a lot of research. Howie and Joe lead the way and basically made the gamble that (CB) Sidney (Jones) can be the premier cornerback we think he can be, and healthy. It’s a gamble, but it was something we thought was a good strategy.
Q. As an owner in this league, as a follow-up to Colin Kaepernick, there are a number of people who believe he’s been blacklisted. How would you address that? (John McMullen)
JEFFREY LURIE: I think the definition of blacklist is some discussion amongst people to not hire or not approve or something like that. I’ve never had a discussion (about that) with anybody.
It doesn’t work that way. There’s no communication. We’re very competitive against each other, the 32 owners. I don’t reveal anything. They don’t reveal anything. There’s no discussion that ever takes place about any player. In my 23 years in the league, I’ve never heard any discussion of a player like that.
You keep it to yourself. You have your own strategy. I think that’s the way it works.
Q. I heard you speak a little while ago about keeping a long-term vision while maximizing the short-term. (Les Bowen)
JEFFREY LURIE: Yes.
Q. I know in March you spoke of needing multiple drafts to really get to the point where you have the team you want. Now that you’re on the threshold of the 2017 season, is this a playoff team? (Les Bowen)
JEFFREY LURIE: Oh, I think so much happens in a given season that you can never say that. I mean, I’ve never in 23 years, even coming off all those multiple NFC Championship games, and NFC East titles and all that, I’ve never come and said, ‘We’re obviously a playoff team.’ It just doesn’t work that way in the NFL.
Look at last year. What was Atlanta’s record going into the season and what was Dallas’ record going into the season last year? I think Dallas became the No. 1 seed. What was Atlanta, 6-10, going into last year? And with Matty Ice (Falcons QB Matt Ryan), who is a very good quarterback?
We’d be sitting here talking about, ‘How can you have Matty Ice and be 6-10?’ (Then) they developed one hell of a team.
It’s sort of foolhardy to make any predictions, whatsoever.
Q. You mentioned the analytics department. I don’t think fans have a ton of insight into that group. What role does it play in player personnel and what is the scope of that group? (Bo Wulf)
JEFFREY LURIE: We’ve been utilizing analytics for a long, long time. Now I guess it’s probably more codified and there’s just so much data to gain when you do the research. This is on college players and pro players. When you can really correlate and figure out what creates success – all you’re trying to do really is beat the odds. Anyone who studies the NFL Draft knows the odds of hitting on draft picks is not high, whatever round you’re in. First is the highest, but it’s not high.
I know The Washington Post did a pretty interesting study of the draft over the last 10 or 15 years. It was pretty interesting and very accurate, I think. So all you try to do is bring analytics, medical, everything together – psychological – to try to up your odds. So if the odds in a fourth round are 21 percent of a team ever getting a player that can start for five years, you’re trying to get it to 30 percent or 40 percent or something like that. That’s the only way to improve your performance.
So analytics, I think increasingly around sports, is very important, but it’s a tool. That’s all it is. If you’re looking at (QB) Carson Wentz, we do analytics, but it took a lot more than analytics to decide that we were going to select Carson.
Q. Following up on Kaepernick, when you say that you applaud anyone who finds respectful ways to have their platform, is kneeling for the national anthem respectful to you, and how do you react to that? (Martin Frank)
JEFFREY LURIE: I don’t think anybody who is protesting the national anthem, in and of itself, is very respectful. If that’s all their platform is, is to protest the national anthem, then what’s the proactive nature of it? But I think we sometimes can misinterpret what those are. I’ve talked to (S) 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. We, as a franchise, try to be as proactive as you can be as a sports franchise. We hope we’ll get more and more proactive.
Particularly on issues that we think are company-wide, like autism and things like that. I think it’s all about respect. It’s respect. Anyone who doesn’t have respect for the servicemen that support the country loses me. So it’s very important to show respect for the flag, for the anthem, but it can be misinterpreted that certain people are not showing respect.
We’ve got to get to the bottom of what are they trying to accomplish, and are they being proactive in the community, and what are they doing? I think you’ve got to take a holistic view of it.
Q. When T Jason Peters got his contract extension a few months ago, he said you guys were best friends. I am curious about what your relationship is like with him? Have you changed the way you try to approach relationships with players over the years, knowing it is a business, and guys come and go? (Dave Zangaro)
JEFFREY LURIE: Well, first of all on Jason, we are very close. I have unbelievable respect for him as a player, as a teammate, and as a person. We’ve had a close relationship for a long time.
I’ve had close relationships with so many players; I don’t think I’ve changed my philosophy on that whatsoever. It’s sometimes really hard when you have to trade a player. Recently with [LS] Jon Dorenbos, he is like a family member. But it goes with the territory. You try to become as real and genuine as you can be with your fellow teammates, your players. You’re partners here; you’re all in this together. I’ve never shied away from it. As you may or may not know, I’ve been close with a lot of players and a lot of coaches. I maintain that friendship regardless of whether they’re still in the Eagles family or not.
So, no, there’s been no change. I love Jason. Jason is just very special.
Q. You’ve talked a lot about drafting well, and the value of the draft in terms of team building and building talent around Carson Wentz. The decision to bring in guys like RB LeGarrette Blount and WR Alshon Jeffery on short-term deals, is there any concern about any upheaval moving forward given the salary cap about keeping those guys and finding that balance of building around the quarterback that you’ll eventually have to extend to a long-term deal? (Matt Lombardo)
JEFFREY LURIE: That’s well said. It’s a balance. But Alshon provided the opportunity to get a young player. If Alshon were 33 or something, we probably would have had very little interest in doing a one-year deal like that. This was a 27-year-old, very good, young receiver that we thought could be someone that we would potentially be able to re-sign.
We never signed anybody that we couldn’t potentially re-sign going forward. That was the standard. If there was somebody that was only going to be here [for one year] and he was 27 and we couldn’t re-sign him, why do that? Why give up assets or give up significant cap room or something like that?
Q. Any more thought to bidding for a Super Bowl? (Nick Fierro)
JEFFREY LURIE: Bidding for a Super Bowl? Yeah, I’d love to. I mean, I really want to get the draft again. We can talk about the draft. The draft was one huge Philly success.
Personally, it meant a lot to me. I loved showcasing Philly across the country. I tell people wherever I go how incredible our fans are. There are fans of other teams, owners I’ve talked to about it. But they have their teams.
It’s very special here. It’s incredibly special to own a team and it’s incredible special to have this fan base. The draft kind of showed it to the rest of the country, which I loved. I think it was great economically for the city. I hope the city and the NFL can come together and bring another draft to Philly.
Super Bowl-wise it’s a lot more difficult. If we were able to build a retractable dome stadium, I think we would have had a Super Bowl by now. It was attempted in New York. It was successful. But it’s not something I think the league is plotting to repeat. It may happen, but it’s more iffy.
Q. Obviously Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson report to you. What is your level of involvement on a day-to-day basis in terms of the decisions and the dynamics within the building? (Zach Berman)
JEFFREY LURIE: As I said, I ask a lot of questions. You know that. I engage with them all the time. (I have a) great relationship with both. Howie I probably, I don’t know, talk to a couple times a day at a minimum at different times. We’re not just dealing with players, we’re dealing with the whole football operations. The technology, we want to be at the forefront of every form of technology that can give our players and coaches a better resource. We’re constantly looking for what can give us a leg up on everything.
We’re talking about all that kind of stuff. Doug, as you know, very genuine, friendly person that’s easy to talk to. I can easily ask him, and he can ask me, and share experiences I’ve had in the league, and with other coaches. Just want to be a support system. There’s not a lot of critical decisions that get made in those conversations, but it could lead to critical decisions and strategies that we form for the draft or free agency.
Then you’ll have the coach, he’ll go over his game planning for a future game. I might have some questions. It’s not anything out of the ordinary. It’s just being all part of a collaborative effort. Good situation.
Q. Is that any different than it’s been under previous head coaches? (Zach Berman)
JEFFREY LURIE: No, not really. No, always had that with pretty much the key football executives. No, very genuine.
Q. Have you gone over game plans with previous coaches? (Tim McManus)
JEFFREY LURIE: You don’t go over game plans. You just go over what are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. That’s about it. You’re not going over detailed game plans. That would be a waste of their time with me. It’s more like, ‘I think we can attack this player. This is a mismatch I want to go after. This defensive coordinator is new at that team.’ We look at film from X, Y and Z, try to evaluate him, see how it applies to the personnel they have, for example like this week on the Redskins. It’s really kind of good stuff, but it’s not meant to take up a lot of time.
I really believe in having the coaches spend their time trying to defeat the team we’re playing and not discuss a lot with me.
Q. You said you can’t foreshadow whether this team is going to make the post-season, but would anything other than the playoffs be a disappointment for you? (Jamie Apody)
JEFFREY LURIE: 31 teams are going to be disappointed. 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.
This concludes the transcription. These are the full quotes from Lurie’s press conference.