Philadelphia Eagles News

Jeffrey Lurie's State Of The Team Address

Opening remarks: "I'm very pumped for this season; extremely. I have very high expectations for this team. (We have a) healthy quarterback—he looks great - a very fast defense, (we're) much more athletic on offense, and I'm just very excited about a lot of things. That's just about it. (Jokingly) Sorry I couldn't give you advance notice on the water main break. I did get here at five in the morning to pull it off. A couple of the players asked me to do it - the under-30 guys, by the way, not the over-30 guys. It was the younger guys. We pulled it off, but I felt bad because there were some fans and some people that came out. The time's yours, as (head coach) Andy (Reid) says, and I look forward to answering your questions as best I can."

On what the last three seasons have been like for him: "In one of the three, we were a whisker from the NFC championship game—and I play that game back a lot. It's a collision sport, what can I say? You think you put together an outstanding team that's going to compete to go very far and sometimes you just have to understand that you're not going to have the players on the field that you expect to be on the field. That happens in this sport. Part of the reason I'm real pumped up about this season is finally we have a real-healthy (QB) Donovan McNabb, who looks great out there. I think Andy and the player personnel people have done a great job of retooling the defense with young fast players (to go along) with the veteran mix that we have. Offensively, we had some red zone problems last year and I think they should be vastly improved this year. We are very used to succeeding on a significant level and it is disappointing when we don't or can't. We approach every season with very high expectations. This isn't about rebuilding, retooling, or anything. This is (about) going for it. That's our approach. It's pedal to the metal. That's what every move is based on, what every attempted move is based on, with an eye towards the present and an eye towards the future. We're going for it."

On what he thinks about RB Brian Westbrook's contract talks: "It's sort of life in sports these days with contracts. I don't really have a problem when a player outperforms his contract. My philosophy, and I think it's the organization's philosophy, is to try to always be fair. Adapt to where things are at. We're the distribution mechanism for these 53 players. You try to be fair and do contracts when they make sense for the team. You're trying to spread it out as best you can so you have the best possible roster. At the same time, you want to be fair to every single player. I just think there's a sense of fairness that we always try to uphold and you can't always succeed at it or it's not always perceived, necessarily, by every single person. That's the nature of it. Because that's the philosophy, I think all these things play themselves out in a successful way. One of the things we try to do as well, with managing the salary cap as the distributor of the 53 players, (is that) we're not adding dollars to how much we spend. All you're doing is trying to figure out the best way to parcel it out every year. We do that in a way that we've always been able to have an advantage, where we pay the players who are on the field. I like going into the game knowing we have, typically, a 5-10 million dollar advantage of talent on the field. We've been able to avoid those miscellaneous charges where teams field teams with, sometimes, 10-15 million in miscellaneous because they wrote contracts that didn't make any sense 2-3 years out. We try to avoid that because it's not fair to the players on your roster. At the same time, try to be fair to every player on the roster. That's the balancing act and our guys do a great job at it. I look forward to a successful conclusion to all these situations."

On why a team would try and sign players to long-term deals early on in their careers: "It's a lot better for the team to try to, and we've always led the league in signing players to contracts early on. It gives the player stability. It gives the team stability. It's a collision sport, you don't know how long the careers are. You may not max out at the highest possible thing if you outperform your contract, but a lot of players underperform those contracts. At the time of doing a contract, the player's trying to get the most possible, and the team (is trying) to solidify that position for a longer period of time. Usually, you arrive at a contract. When you think about it, the players that take the risk of going to unrestricted free agency, they may hit the jackpot, but so many of them don't even get signed. It's a difficult sport to work in for players. I appreciate that. A lot of players hit unrestricted free agency, and they may have had a mediocre season the year before, they might have had an injury, but it's tough out there. The security of being a multi-millionaire, I think, is both appealing still to both the team and the players. Then you'll have to adjust if there are significant changes; ups or downs."

On how concerned he is about escalating rookie contracts and the collective bargaining agreement: "I can't really speak much about the CBA. What I will say is, first of all, we've got three more playing seasons before we have any ending of that contract. What I have great confidence in is that commissioner (Roger) Goodell, and the owner's committee - the CEC that deals with this - will work extensively, intensively to try to create a new partnership with the NFL Players Association that benefits all the clubs, that benefits all the players and benefits the fans. They'll have many years to work that out. Hopefully they will. We've always had a terrific partnership with the players and I look forward to that process working itself out."

On how important it is to have Westbrook happy when the season starts: "I think you want every player to be (happy), especially a professional like Brian. He's great, one of my favorites. You hope it can. You just need two reasonable sides and usually these things do have a way of working themselves out. We've never not worked something out with Brian and hopefully this will play itself out well."

On whether he'd ever intervene on a contract situation: "No, not at all. My role is I don't speak to agents and I don't speak and negotiate with players. I set a philosophy. Everyone who works for me buys into or owns that philosophy anyway. Particularly (team president) Joe (Banner), (vice president of player personnel) Howie (Roseman), those guys and Andy. Try to be fair, be flexible, don't have hard and rigid rules, whether (or not) it's age-related. The only thing we do - as you know we're kind of sticklers on character. We don't really want to re-sign a guy who doesn't love the game. We try to avoid those guys in the draft, but you make mistakes. That's kind of the way we run things."

On how the team approaches re-signing players: "I think players, when they negotiate their second contracts, they're coming from the same point of view as the club. It's a balancing act between market values, security, hope for the future—they hope to improve their performance, we hope they are too, otherwise we wouldn't be re-signing them. That's why most of the league tends to re-sign most of the players they want to re-sign. What happens with contracts in every sport around every team is kind of the same."

On how the team determines that a player has outperformed their contract: "I think sometimes it's just apparent. That's just the way it is. I don't think there's any hard and fast rule. (Jokingly) If you were to ask every player what they should be getting, you'd probably have to triple your salary cap. It's a little hard to do."

On whether he thinks that CB Lito Sheppard has outperformed his contract: "The one thing I never do is I try to always be positive about every single player on the roster. I don't get involved in the press, particularly with agents, nor do I deal directly with agents. So, I'm not even going to address that. I will say that I'm very hopeful that Lito will have a terrific season. (That he will) show us, and the league, that he's back to the old Lito, feels healthy, (that) he's got great playmaking ability and certainly a lower YPA (yards per attempt) and just really perform the way that we know Lito can. I think that's what he's going to do."

On his reaction to G Shawn Andrews not showing up to camp: "I don't have a lot to say about Shawn because I have no idea what's really going on. I'm just kind of relying in Andy. He's in communication. You don't want to pre-judge anything until you know what's going on. It's certainly disappointing he's not here. Other players get reps and improve because that's the game of football, you've got to prepare. He's been hurt before so we had to prepare anyway. I'm hopeful Shawn will have a terrific season, be here and that things will work themselves out. But, I don't have knowledge (of the situation)."

On whether he thinks it's a problem that he doesn't have knowledge of the situation: "I do have knowledge in terms of Andy's conversations and so Andy's kind of the emissary to Shawn Andrews at this point."

On whether he's confident that Andrews will be here: "Yes, I am, but that's conjecture."

On whether he thinks Andrews not being here is a distraction: "As you know, we have a tough camp that's got great work ethic. It builds camaraderie and toughness. Andy's success with this has been spectacular. Anytime a player misses the work that's being done and the bonding with teammates, even though he's a veteran and a very good player, it disappoints me."

On whether he is confused by Andrews not being here: "I don't want to say because, when something's a personal issue, I think we will inevitably learn what's been going on. But, I don't want to speak about something that I don't have enough knowledge of to know. You do hope. You don't see too many players not at their training camps. You just hope what's going to happen to Shawn will be great for Shawn and great for the franchise."

On who determines whether a player is fined or punished for missing camp: "Andy is the head of football operations and he will have a better fix on that than anyone in the organization. He'll determine that."

On whether there have been changes made in the front office in regards to Joe Banner's involvement in football issues: "No not at all, not in the slightest. He is a very important part of the franchise. He's the president of the team, but there's been no change in a long, long time on that front."

On what he expects in the CBA talks: "I don't really want to speak about a new CBA because we're not there. I think for fans, they want players to be at their training camp of the team they root for. Obviously, they want contracts to be honored, so those are kind of issues that, some day, we'll be able to talk about but really can't address them now."

On whether he thinks it's harder for teams to maintain their nucleus: "I don't. Every team has to go through it. What was it? (Former New York Giants DE) Michael Strahan didn't even go to training camp last year? They did okay, but you never know."

On the main reason for the team missing the playoffs two out of the last three years: "The one thing I can say is that you can always do better in every aspect. I've always said that, even coming off NFC Championship seasons. I think there's always, and should be, an attitude 'we can be better,' and 'we can be better in every single aspect.' I do think, though, that when Donovan is healthy and he's still in the prime of his career, we have a terrific record. I can only think of two playoff games that we've ever lost where he was completely healthy going into the game and throughout the game, the St. Louis championship game and the game in Jacksonville, the Super Bowl. Phenomenal. We've had the best quarterback in the NFC for quite a while, but that's not the case when he's not playing 100 percent or not playing. I think that on paper the talent is there. It's a brand new season. We don't deserve any advantage over anybody else. We're all 0-0, we're all tied for last, tied for first. But having the quarterback that I think is the best quarterback when healthy in the NFC, helps us tremendously. You need everything though.

"You have to have no weaknesses. You need a great pass rush, obviously. You need great protection. You need depth across the roster, so when you are managing the salary cap, you have to be very careful to achieve that depth. It's great to have multiple cornerbacks, multiple pass rushers, multiple running backs, especially the high impact positions in terms of injuries. I think in terms of work ethic and attitude and chemistry and all that, it's all there. So, as I said, I'm pumped."

On the rarity of having a quarterback and coach duo for 10 years: "It's very special. They've been one of the most special, successful duos in probably the history of the league, and it's still just there. They're both in their prime, coach and quarterback. It's been a while since we've been able to really appreciate Donovan healthy, and I think you forget sometimes how successful he's been and we've been. You just hope that he can have the health of a (Patriots QB Tom) Brady, a (Colts QB Peyton) Manning. There are some good quarterbacks in the league that have not been able to, and it's a big difference maker on any franchise. We're developing (QB) Kevin Kolb. (QB) A.J. (Feeley) is a valuable piece. You do the best you can in terms of what you have there when your starter is not able to play. That's a huge lift."

On what he sees in the offense: "I see a lot more athleticism. I see a real healthy (RB) Correll Buckhalter. I see a dynamic (RB) Lorenzo Booker. I see an explosive rookie in (WR) DeSean Jackson, and that's just a start. I see a tight end from last year that did everything we asked and looks great (in TE Brent Celek), and a guy coming back who can be a very good tight end, in (TE) L.J. Smith, so, a lot there. (WR) Kevin Curtis should just continue to be terrific, and I expect (WR) Reggie (Brown) to have a good year. A lot. You're also banking on good protection."

On Donovan being 31 years old and how difficult it will be when he retires: "I don't know. I mean, it will always be difficult, but he's only 31 years old. He's right in his prime. I think the average Super Bowl winning quarterback is about 30 or 31, so he's right in his prime. If he can stay healthy and perform like he's been able to when healthy, I think you're looking at a guy that can play as long as (John) Elway or (Brett) Favre, those kinds of guys. We're far off from that."

On how he thinks the fans perceive him: "I don't know. I have no idea."

On whether it matters to him: "I think you always want to be perceived positively. I try my best, and try to be proud of the franchise and the product and deliver a great stadium experience that's there. Just try hard to do the very best you can. It's always going to be controversial, or 'what can you do more of?' It's hard for an owner to score touchdowns, keep everyone healthy, to sack the other teams' quarterback. You just do the best you can. I think I've been lucky to surround myself with really dedicated people who embody the same intensity that I have. We've been together a long time some of us, with Andy and Joe Banner and others. (There's) a lot of success and a lot of hunger to win a championship. I kind of feel, this decade, that we've accomplished virtually everything we can except win a championship. Multiple division titles, NFC Championship, a lot of number one seeds, but we haven't won a Super Bowl Championship, and that's what I want for our fans. And that's day to day all I think about."

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