PHOENIX – He wanted the ball one more time. Jeffrey Lurie mentioned it twice as he addressed the media late on Tuesday afternoon as the NFL Annual Meeting wrapped up here, thinking back to the moment in Super Bowl LVII, late in the fourth quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs. Give the ball back to quarterback Jalen Hurts and an Eagles offense that moved the ball up and down the field in that game and, well, what could have been.
"Minute forty-three. One timeout. Let's roll," Lurie said, and every Eagles fan in every corner of the world nodded in agreement. "I think about a minute and 43 (seconds) left in the game, and one timeout, we got the ball at the 25-yard line, what would have happened. I would have liked that opportunity because we were built for it."
The Eagles rolled throughout the 2022 season until that point when a holding penalty was called on cornerback James Bradberry and the Chiefs retained possession of the football with a first down and eventually ran out the clock and, ohhhhhhh, you know the rest. Until that moment, it was a dominating season for the Eagles – "Incredible 2022-2023 season, nothing short of incredible," Lurie said – and it was "heartbreaking to not win that game," he said.
Lurie held his annual State of the Eagles Address in the Rimrock Room at the Arizona Biltmore after a long few days of meetings with fellow owners, league general managers, and head coaches and expressed the pride he felt for the accomplishments of that team and this franchise and while there was pain, and it was so intense for everyone, he is confident the Eagles are in a great position moving forward to sustain that kind of success – and then some. Lurie has assembled a dynamic team defined, he said, by a collective culture of "grinding" for greatness.
He is a man intensely proud of the organization he has, the worldwide fan base that invests in the Eagles in every way, and the collaboration to impact the Philadelphia region off the field on a daily basis. What stood out the most about Lurie as he spoke was the genuine excitement about what is ahead for this team and the insatiable appetite he and the team have to win another championship.
"These guys – I don't want to repeat myself, but they're grinders," Lurie said, referencing Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman, Head Coach Nick Sirianni, and those in the organization at every level from player to coach to others, many of whom aren't known to the public, who have the same hunger and obsession to win. "They're grinders. As an owner, when you have a quarterback that's an ultimate grinder and just an incredible person, a coach that's like that, a GM that's like that, their staffs become like that, the culture in the building is based on a grinding philosophy.
"We're never satisfied. Whether we had won the Super Bowl or not, that hunger for more, that hunger for more. I have it, everyone has it."
With that, the reasons for optimism are many and clearly apparent. On the field, it starts with quarterback Jalen Hurts, who Lurie described as having "an incredible passion for being phenomenal. You see that in the great ones. We all know in other sports and with certain quarterbacks in this league, you can define them by their obsession with detail and work ethic." Lurie said. "I think the future is so great for him. He's 24 years old. Honestly, I don't know if I've ever met somebody that mature at age 24. I'd like to think I have – my son (Julian) is 27, he's very mature – no, Jalen is the most mature 24-year-old I've ever come across. Each franchise quarterback is different. But I've always said to you guys, quarterback, GM, coach, facilities, stadium, scouting, those kinds of things, those are the keys. Once you can find it, that's when you're really excited. We'll be working with Jalen I'm sure for a long time."
Of course, the Eagles have to navigate a new world as it pertains to the salary cap. They very much want to work out a new contract with Hurts, one that will commensurate with the top quarterbacks in the league after having the last two seasons with Hurts as the starting quarterback on his rookie deal.
It's a task, no doubt. Lurie has no question that the Eagles will make it work for every side.
"We've seen teams do it. We're challenged to be one of those teams," he said. "I think the most important aspect of that is to have the right quarterback. Assuming you have the right coach, the right staff, the right general manager, their staff, the right culture, all that goes into – all the resources necessary. But then you've got to have – I think it's so helpful to have a dynamic quarterback who's a great leader, a special person, and someone that is so hungry and not just to win it once but to win it multiple times and obsessed.
"I think that mentality combined with what I said in terms of the coaches, coaching staff, Nick leading the way there and Howie, it bodes really well. Now, of course, you've got to manage the resources in terms of the salary cap differently, and so you've got to try to have a probably higher volume of draft choices. You've got to be able to have a great development program. I think we are pretty awesome in how we prioritize player development. It's huge for us.
"Jalen is a great, great example of that, (left tackle) Jordan Mailata (is also an example of that). That's key because you're not going to be able to out-duel on cap resources teams that have rookie contracts for their quarterbacks. But the hardest part for sure is the scarcity of really good quarterbacks. We've got one, and we've got a very special player and individual in that category, in that position. It bodes really well for us."
The note to leave with? The departing message? Lurie knows what he has with his coaching staff and his front office, with his outstanding young quarterback just reaching his prime, with a strong roster already in place, with two first-round draft picks ahead, with resources to add more, with the "grind" and the "hunger" the Eagles bring every day.
He knows what lies ahead.
"I'm super excited about what we can do in 2023-2024 going forward," Jeffrey Lurie said, smiling. "I can't think of any reason not to be super excited."