Stay humble. Work hard. Be quiet and keep your head down every day. That's the message from Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, who provided an impromptu media session on Wednesday after practice.
He is as excited as anyone about the Philadelphia Eagles, who returned to the playoffs in 2013 after missing the previous two seasons. But before anyone looks too far into the future and makes any bold predictions, Lurie is preaching the day-by-day approach. Progress, said Lurie, is making sure the team is better in a progressive fashion.
"I just think it's strictly: Young team and get better every day. You never know what's going to happen if you get that far – health, luck – you don't know what's going to happen," said Lurie, when asked if progress is determined by the Eagles advancing beyond 2013's successes. "Be a better football team on July 31 than on July 30. I think it's much more basic. That's all it is."
It was an interesting post-practice session with Lurie, who touched on a number of subjects.
On Chip Kelly and how he has evolved, Lurie said, "I would just have to say that it's more that he's spent a whole year with our players, with the organization, with the NFL and he's a guy who is always thinking, asking why, analyzing. It's more information for him to be better himself and it's a lot easier when it's your second year and everybody has expectations of the way you're going to operate – the players, the staff – in terms of you're not installing nearly as much. You're able to execute. On both ends, I think he has much more information and he'll use that to the best of his ability because he's smart. And everyone around him will understand better what he's trying to accomplish."
On the perception that Kelly has more power than ever, Lurie said, "It's funny, because within the (NovaCare Complex) it's such a team approach. I think one of the reasons he's been successful and his staff has been successful is that it has been such an excellent team approach, whether it's dealing with player personnel, whether it's dealing with the trainers, whether it's dealing with sports science. It is really a team approach. Everyone is humble about it. Nobody is trying to take responsibility for anything. It's strictly, 'To be better than 31 other teams, you better be a really good team.' It's not just about one person in the slightest."
On the direction of the franchise, Lurie said, "I feel really good. I feel very lucky to have a coach and a coaching staff that is really dynamic, a young general manager who I think is outstanding, a young president who is terrific and who brings everybody together. It's lucky for me as an Owner. You can't always feel that every day and I feel like we've got an excellent young team that is young and needs to get better. Stay humble, get better and practice hard. It's not that complicated."
Nick Foles is the team's quarterback coming off a Pro Bowl season, and the NFL works in a manner such that if a team has a young quarterback, a good, young quarterback, the future is bright. Lurie is high on Foles, in his third season and his first heading into the preseason as the unquestioned starter.
"It's hard not to be impressed with him from Day 1 in terms of off the field. Just an incredibly hard worker, great work ethic, very humble, so respected by everybody around him," said Lurie. "I remember talking to Michael Vick about him last year and a little bit the year before, and Michael was saying, 'This guy is such a superb team player.' He's only 24 years old at that point and incredibly respected in the locker room and talented and young and just wants to get better."
Asked if Foles is a "franchise quarterback," Lurie said, "I have no idea, but I think he's got a lot of the elements you look for. He's a great person. He's a hard worker and he's going to have an amazing opportunity to get better and better. I think with the offense we have and with the people we have around him, the hard workers around him and the talent, he's got a great opportunity to have another excellent year."
Lurie thinks the pieces are in place for a strong run in the coming season if progress continues on a daily basis and if the luck of the draw falls the Eagles' way. He is, understandably, optimistic.
"If you can have a really good coaching staff and if you can have a really good young quarterback and do a really good job in player personnel and string together multiple successful drafts, your window is not small in the NFL because of the quarterback," said Lurie, who also praised general manager Howie Roseman. "I couldn't be more excited about having a very smart young general manager who analyzes everything and who sees the big picture. He works really well whether it was Andy Reid or Chip Kelly. He's trying to find players to fit exactly what the coaches are looking for but at the same time you've got to remain your own person and speak up about what you think the value is for your own players and other players and you've got to have that big-picture mentality and he's got a great work ethic.
"There is a chance we've had three really excellent drafts in a row and if you can do that and have the kind of committed players we have, you're going to get better and better."