Let's call this The Jeffrey Lurie Tree. It's a forest, really, and it canvases much of the NFL – former Eagles coaches and executives who have gone on to other league outposts to continue their career success. It is a testament to Lurie's ability to identify strong decision-makers who have upward mobility and, in the 26 years Lurie has owned the Eagles, helped change the course of the league.
In Sunday's Super Bowl LV, Andy Reid and much of his coaching staff in Kansas City were part of Reid's 14 years in Philadelphia. Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach is a former Eagle. Kansas City President Mark Donovan was once upon a time a senior vice president of marketing and business development in South Philadelphia. Tampa Bay Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles coached here and Bucs General Manager Jason Licht worked in the player personnel department with the Eagles.
The most recent NFL head coaching hire was David Culley, a former wide receivers coach in Philadelphia during Reid's years who was hired by Houston. The list goes on and on and on and the point is this: Lurie has an innate ability and an incredible track record of hiring great football people. In the days after Culley was hired by the Texans, Lurie spoke about the importance of the coaching pipeline that is genuine, that is real, and that is mighty, mighty impressive.
"It means a lot. I'm very proud of that," Lurie said in a recent one-on-one interview for the Eagles Insider Podcast. "I think we have a great culture. Our culture is very coach-centric. We give a lot of responsibility to the coaches and they grow and they thrive, whether it's Sean Payton or Jon Gruden (two former Eagles assistant coaches under then-Head Coach Ray Rhodes), Sean McDermott ... the list goes on and on – obviously Ron Rivera – we have not enough time for all of them.
"So happy for David. It's not often that a coach who has earned it over the years time after time, coaches receivers and communicates with players so successfully, at age 65 gets an opportunity. I couldn't be happier for Dave, one of the real terrific guys. I heard Leslie Frazier was a finalist (for the Houston job) and it's hard not to root for Leslie, too. One of the classiest people that I've ever come across in the NFL – sharp and terrific defensive mind. I was really glad that those were the two finalists."
Lurie purchased the Eagles in 1994 when Rich Kotite was the head coach, and during that Tale of Two Seasons – the Eagles were 7-2 at one point before losing seven straight games – there was some public pressure to extend Kotite's contract. Lurie held firm, and when the season spun out of control, Lurie let Kotite go – true to form, Kotite was hired elsewhere, as a head coach of the Jets – and hired Rhodes, the first of his head coaches. Since then, it's been Rhodes to Andy Reid to Chip Kelly to Doug Pederson and now to Nick Sirianni. All of the coaches Lurie has hired have been first-time NFL head coaches in the NFL and all of them to this point has reached the playoffs at least once.
More than just the head coach, Lurie's hires in player personnel have gone on to more success in other NFL cities, too – Tom Heckert, Licht, Ryan Grigson, Joe Douglas, and Andrew Berry have moved to other teams as their general manager. From top to bottom, Lurie takes careful consideration in whom he hires, how they will fit into the Eagles' culture, and how they will relate to others in the organization, no matter the role.
"We're only as good as the people we surround ourselves with," Lurie said during the press conference announcing Pederson's dismissal in January. "It's easy to talk about the quarterback and the head coach and the GM, but honestly, we're a product of those that surround us."
Now it is Sirianni's time.
He will announce his coaching staff soon, one that brings youth and energy and fresh faces and new ideas. The Eagles are in a "transition" stage, Lurie said the day of Pederson's announcement, and they have some important questions to answer in the coming weeks and months. If track records mean anything, Lurie has found the right man to become the 21st full-time (not including interim) head coach in Eagles history, one that will be innovative, risk-accepting, and appreciative of an organization that supports its coaching staff and football operations like few others in the NFL.
"The first step I think in being a great coach in modern football today, modern sports today, is to care very much about the players and coaches you work with, and everybody. But a player who is 22, 30 years old, in this world, if you care, you can earn trust. If the caring is not real, if you're not being genuine, players are too smart and they see right through that, as they should," Lurie said as he introduced Sirianni in a virtual press conference a few weeks ago.
"One of the prerequisites for this job was to be able to have a head coach who literally cares every single day. That continues the culture that we've been building over the last five years, and potentially accentuates it even further. That was a deal breaker for me, for anybody that I felt didn't have that quality. I don't know if it's the hidden sauce, but it's what propels everything else. If you care, you earn trust. If you earn trust, you can motivate. If you motivate, you can teach. It all spins from there in terms of improving a player's performance, improving team performance, increasing discipline, increasing accountability, and being able to really move off a status quo and advance whatever vision the head coach and his staff have.
"I think Nick has that in very unique ways. It's a credit to him as a person. As you'll get to know him, I think you'll see what we all see in that."
The Jeffrey Lurie Tree branches out once again as the Nick Sirianni Era begins in 2021.