Eagles Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie spoke to the media during the 18th Annual Eagles Playground Build at Prince Hall School in North Philadelphia on Monday and began by expressing his pleasure of what this kind of day means to the organization and the community.
"The unsung thing about it is that it brings the whole team together. It's an amazing thing for the kids and it's amazing for the neighborhood, but when you have a sports team that can come together and a whole organization build around it, it just brings the employees, the players, the coaches, everyone together and whenever you have a common goal to help, it just brings you together," said Lurie. "It gives the kids a sense of pride, and they deserve it."
After that, it was on to the 2014 Eagles in the line of questioning of Lurie, and in the wake of decisions to change the roster, primarily the one releasing wide receiver DeSean Jackson after his 82-catch season of 2013, Lurie expressed his faith in head coach Chip Kelly.
"I think this is going to be a very good football team," said Lurie. "We'll see how it all comes together. Just thinking about last year, at this time last year while I was painting (at the 17th Annual Playground Build at WD Kelley School), we weren't sure who the quarterback was going to be, weren't sure how the wide receivers were going to be -- a lot of positions were up in the air. After watching what Chip and his group were able to strategize and put together and implement ... I think it was sort of the tip of the iceberg of what this team can perform and do."
Lurie said that he was kept abreast of Kelly's plans to make changes to the roster, including the one to release Jackson. Once the Eagles were convinced that they couldn't make a trade involving Jackson, they felt it was most fair to Jackson to release him and give him his best chance to find a new home.
Jackson did that, of course, signing with Washington as a free agent.
Lurie said it was clear to him that Kelly was intent to "go at the wide receiver position differently," although he did not mention specifically how that will happen. Lurie also emphasized that the decision to release Jackson was strictly a football decision.
"Chip and his people were incredibly clear that for us to get better, we needed to take a step back and re-configure the wide receiver position," said Lurie. "Common to a lot of really smart coaches, he knows exactly what he wants at every position and for Chip on offense, it just wasn't a good fit. It was not a good fit for what he asks wide receivers to do. He can explain that to you, but it was just not a fit. He was so clear that we have to get better.
"He wants to be a better offense. I know you can say that 'Statistically, gee, you lose DeSean, how can you be a better offense?' If you add (quarterback) Nick Foles last year, it was a record-setting offense. I think with Chip, I give him the benefit of the doubt. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get there. I really believe it's an organization that absolutely supports the direction we're going and that's the best way to be: Everyone in it together and I think Chip is always going to base things not just on statistics, but how you're going to perform, and how you are going to perform in the playoffs."
Lurie reiterated what Kelly has said all along that the offense is not "based on one player" and that the reason the team waited so long to comment on the move was done to respect the player and to give him a chance to find his next team in the NFL.
That Jackson signed with the Redskins, a decision rival, did not impact the decision to release him.
"We knew he wasn't going to be on the team, we knew there was going to be no trade offer and once that happened, we've never been afraid of teams in our division," said Lurie. "We have to do what's best for us and it remains to be seen exactly what happens in the future. Check back in three years and see where we're at."