PHOENIX – Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie met with the media at the NFL Annual Meeting late on Tuesday at the Arizona Biltmore and was asked questions on a variety of topics. Here are some of the takeaways from his State of the Eagles press conference ...
1. On NFL owners reportedly tabling a plan to allow for flex scheduling for late-season Thursday night games, and approving giving teams 15 days of notice when schedule changes are coming: "So it's an ongoing discussion, as you may know. It was brought up. It's a big jump to have an NFL package on streaming. We know we're headed to a very digital universe. More and more people are watching games through streaming. I think we know that's where it's all headed. So, there's an attempt at wanting to make the Thursday night package even more attractive. You know, there's ways of doing that. We could allow teams to be on there more than once and not require every team to have to be on there so that you can create some matchups in May when you're doing the schedule and try to have somewhat of a better series of matchups for Amazon and for the ratings and for the fans on Thursday night. Flex scheduling, we'll have to see. There's more talk about that. Nothing has been resolved on flex scheduling for Thursday."
2. On the Eagles re-introducing a new alternate jersey for the 2023 season, one the fans have been buzzing about for a long time: "This is the season we'll reintroduce the Classic Kelly Green, and I'm super excited. I don't know what date that's going to be, but I think the fans will love it. It's why we're bringing it back. We really took the feedback seriously over the years, and the first moment we could get the Kelly Green helmet approved, we'll finally be able to see it on the field."
3. On Head Coach Nick Sirianni reshaping the coaching staff after coordinators Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon left to become head coaches: "He (Sirianni) had made it very clear during the season that we have an outstanding, outstanding quarterback coach in Brian Johnson, and so he was going to go through an interview process, but he was very, very hopeful that we wouldn't lose Brian because there were several teams looking to sign Brian, and we didn't know if Shane was going to be a head coach.
"The other thing is he was relentless, Nick was, and this is something I really appreciate about him. He not only grinds on football and on connections and culture, but when it came time, and this was a first for him, when it came time to how to figure out who's going to replace the coordinator you lost, he was relentless. He might interview five, 10, 15 people, talk to 100 people in terms of the due diligence. He's as relentless in that as – and that's big because you're going to lose – when you're successful, I don't have to tell you guys, you're going to lose a lot of staff and you're going to lose them quickly.
"You've got to not just rely on connection – in terms of who you know, who you worked with, who gave you a job beforehand. Those are rules that we don't really believe in, and we think there's an advantage to having a head coach who truly does the due diligence and is sort of a grinder at it.
"I don't know if he told you, but when he was interviewing for linebacker coach recently, and I think defensive backfield coach, too, he called me and said, yeah, I just finished my 12th interview for the linebacker coach. Twelfth interview! And these are not short interviews. These are grinding interviews. He knows more than I would know about what those interviews are like, but they're not 'Hi, nice to meet you.' They're grinding interviews. He did 12 for the linebacker position. Found his guy (D.J. Eliot) and he just did the same with a defensive backfield coach. I love that. That's much more what I believe in. That familial kind of approach or nepotistic type of approach, you see it a lot, and you've got to try to avoid that. There's so many great coaches. Another plus for him was bringing in Brian Johnson, who he didn't even know, and we got into this position where Shane got hired and we've got an outstanding young coach there."
4. On the origin of the team's proposal, which passed at the NFL Annual Meeting, to have jersey No. 0 available to teams, with offensive linemen and defensive linemen not eligible to wear the number: "What happened there was – and (Assistant General Manager) Jon Ferrari is very involved in this, and in this case Greg Delimitros (vice president, equipment operations). I don't know if you know, but remember they changed some of the numbering systems a few years ago, and we were kind of running out of numbers for certain things, and so we wanted I think kickers, punters to have an added number 0 or another player with 0 just to give us more flexibility. It's giving you a little bit more flexibility, and if anyone brings up 00 next year, I'll probably vote for it. It's not that big a deal, but I think Jon Ferrari and Greg got together and said, let's introduce this, and I was supportive."
5. On players like center Jason Kelce, defensive end Brandon Graham, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, and offensive tackle Lane Johnson signing new contracts and saying they want to start and end their careers as Eagles and what that means to him: "I know what we have as a culture. I know how close we all are, whether it's owner-player, coach-player, GM-player, just the camaraderie of the players themselves, the people in the building with those players. They mean an awful lot. But it's not always possible. You could have – in every sport, you're going to have maybe the last year or two of a player on another team. It's the way it goes. It's the use of resources. But when it happens, it's a beautiful thing."
6. On Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman replacing key members of the personnel team in the last year who have moved on to other teams: "They're unknowns. Those assistant GMs became GMs because they are so well trained, and they're not just trained on scouting, they're not just trained on analytics. They're not just trained on football ops in certain ways. It was brought up at one of the meetings today, and I think Howie was asked to speak on it in front of all the owners; he and the organization train these people. They're talented to begin with, but they have multiple responsibilities. They get access to everything. They're not just here's the scout. That scout needs to understand at some point how to use resources, why we do certain things, why the salary cap management takes place the way it is, what's the difference between the analysis on film and the analysis on data and how that collaborates and works together.
"It's a culture of curiosity and information and instinct and all that. You're going to make mistakes, but don't ever – you've heard me say this a lot: Never be risk averse. People didn't want us to draft Jalen Hurts because we had a quarterback. That's the most important position in sports. Take your shots. Those were kind of no-brainers in terms of strategy. Whether it works out – sometimes it's not going to work out, but take your shots. He replaced those assistant GMs – we were just talking about it today, with people that are extremely bright and have incredible futures, and some of them are going to be GMs in this league, and it won't be that long. He thinks outside the box, not only on personnel, trades, acquisitions. It's a six-month, seven-month offseason. You don't participate for a week or two. It's every day for about seven months. It's a much more global view of roster building, looking at weaknesses of teams and who might be willing to trade a (C.J.) Gardner-Johnson or entice a Linval Joseph to come back, or things like that.
"One of the things I love about Howie is that he will bring in people that are not 'yes' people, they are people that he admires from afar or that are just really bright, and another good example is bringing – I don't know if we ever announced it, Andrew Berry's (current Cleveland Browns general manager) brother (Adam, who accepted an executive job with the Eagles) – it's out there? OK. This is just a really, really bright guy from Goldman (Sachs), and it's very unusual to be able to entice somebody who has the same character and intelligence as Andrew in many ways, and I'd be surprised if he doesn't develop into a general manager in this league down the road."