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Transcript of Jeffrey Lurie's State of the Eagles address at the Annual League Meeting

Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie.
Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie.

Opening Remarks

JEFFREY LURIE: "I just want to recognize that two players, extraordinary people and players, Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox retired this year. One of the joys of owning the Eagles is the camaraderie, the relationship with players, the relationship with coaches, relationships with everybody in the building. It's one of the favorite joys of owning the team, and it's all for a purpose: Winning.

"Yet, you come across extraordinary players and extraordinary people. Jason and Fletch, two exceptional, exceptional players. I hope we'll see them both in Canton in five years, and they'll of course be recognized and celebrated in Eagles near history and future history forever, but amazing people. Amazing people."

Question: What went into the process of deciding to retain or not Nick? How did you ultimately arrive at the decision to retain him, and then also going forward what expectations do you have?

JEFFREY LURIE: "Right. We go through a very, very intensive process after every single season. This season was no different, extremely disappointing ending to the season the last five, six games, extremely disappointing to me, very frustrating for all of us.

"But what we do is -- and I insist on this -- there's no recency bias, no latency bias, no bias, take a very hard look at exactly what the entire season looked at, what the entire history has been over the last few years for our organization, for our team, and listen. I do a lot of listening. I ask a lot of questions. It doesn't matter how the even ends -- it's the exact same very rigid, I won't call it rigid, but sort of analytic process where you try to assess your strengths, your weaknesses and what can we do a lot better, what do we have to look forward to the following year, or what is the plan, and that goes for players. That goes for personnel. That goes for culture. It goes into everything. I do a lot of listening. I listen to players, I listen to coaches, I listen to our personnel people.

"And once one can assess and meet with Howie, with Nick, go through a lot of details and a lot of plans and a lot of philosophies, it was very easy to, very, very encouraged where we're at and where we're going forward. It was extremely impressive meeting with Nick and Howie on our plans for both roster development and player development, execution, every aspect of coaching.

"So, it was a very straightforward decision based on a very straightforward process. I don't get very overly influenced by much. It has to be a holistic look of where we are as a franchise. I expect us to always be a championship-caliber team that looks to the mid-range and the future at the same time. They're all important. And I think one of the experiences I've had over the years is to take a very hard look at everything every year, no matter how it ends, no matter how it starts.

"I do know that until we were hitting that streak of not playing well at the end of the year, we were 31-7 in the previous 38 regular season games. To say the least, that's exceptional. And that's starting with taking a team that has a four-win season in our final year with Doug and taking it right into a playoff team right away, and then into the Super Bowl, and then into a 10-1 beginning of this past season, a very disappointing ending, but I don't take light in 31-7 in the National Football League. That's extraordinary.

"So, the ingredients that I've always seen with Nick are very obvious. The ability to connect. The ability to be authentic, very incredible work ethic, high football IQ, all the reasons that he was hired in the first place have been almost magnified in the first three years because they've been extremely successful. And yet that doesn't ever take away from the hard look at the disappointment and frustration as it ended.

"So, I don't mean to diminish that in the slightest because I don't because I lived that, and I care. So, every element of why we were not able to be resilient as we expected goes into that analysis. And I think one of the things that we were able to do in the past is when there's been a tough stretch to be resilient -- Kansas City and San Francisco, two teams that we competed against and do compete against had rough stretches this season. Really rough stretches. And yet they were able to come out of it in time for the playoffs. And that's, I would say, the falling of our team at this point. At that point we were not able to. So, I think that's just facts. We were not able to. They were, but there's no doubt that really good teams, Super Bowl teams. Us the year before, KC and SF this year, tough stretches. You've got to be able to rebound from three/four out five-losses stretch. And we're able to beat a lot of those teams. But we didn't rebound from it, and that was the key focal point of the analysis"

Question: In that hard look, what was your evaluation of the process and the results for the defensive coordinator replacement this season?

JEFFREY LURIE: "I think it didn't work. I think one thing I give Nick a lot of credit for is in a profession where there's a lot of comfortability, Nick has never taken that approach. He takes what he thinks is in the best interests of the team, whether it was from turning over the play calling to Shane Steichen early on to feeling -- even at, what were we, nine and three, whatever our record was at the time -- making a change in the defensive play calling in hopes we would be even better in the last part of the season.

"One of the things I respect about Nick is his ability to evaluate where we're at, where he's at, where he thinks the team needs, and he has very little ego to go in with that. And that's really important, I think, in a leader. I applaud the aggressiveness and the attempt I would say in conclusion it didn't work the way it was expected to work."

Question: I'm sure you looked closely at why you guys weren't able to pull out of the spin in the season. What did you find?

JEFFREY LURIE: "I think there's a lot of reasons. So, in any losing streak it's multifactorial. You've got to go into the weeds of each one. And that's sports. You're going to have a momentum shift and you'll have instances where you're just winning a lot of close games.

"Even tried to analyze, when we were 10-1, there were games I wasn't sure why we won the game. So, you go into both. You go into both. We were playing extremely well in that 10-1 streak, but there were moments where we weren't putting teams away.

"You could be critical of what was almost perfection. And that's my mentality. I will take, while we're doing well or not well, I hope an objective look at it and seek improvement at all times, even when we're 10-1."

Question: How much of Jalen Hurts' regression was on him or on outside variables?

JEFFREY LURIE: "Jalen Hurts, outstanding quarterback. Outstanding young person. Okay, Jalen Hurts. Let's say, take an objective appreciation of this young man.

"The year before, co-MVP candidate. I think he ended up No. 2 in the National Football League. You could argue that with one more chance with the ball at the end of the Super Bowl, he was the Super Bowl MVP.

"Then we go into this year, and we're 10-1, and I think I remember reading about the odds of being MVP this year, I think Jalen was leading the way, or one of the top two.

"That's Jalen's last two seasons -- 25 years old leading this team. He and all of us wish the final five or six games were a lot better. It's a team sport. It's a team sport. And there's so many factors that go into it.

"Was the protection good enough? You can go on and on and on. But we've got a major star, 25-year-old mature young man who has every skill set that you want. And he's a superb person, excellent leader, and he's authentic. And I really respect that. As the owner of the team, this is exactly what you want."

Question: What in particular did stand out about Nick's plans for the future; you called the plans encouraging?

JEFFREY LURIE: "Very, very proactive. The things with Nick, I have to say were -- really impressive were wanting to truly improve the ingredients of the offense; truly improve who was going to lead in terms of leading the offense and the direction it would go; wanted to be much more innovative, much more dynamic. Of course, bring the things that brought us a lot of success. But very open to finding the best possible offensive coordinator.

"And the same with defensive coordinator. I mean, he's an offensive head coach more, but he recognized that Vic Fangio would be somebody that would be an outstanding coordinator for us. We talked about his systems for years and all the people that he developed. And now we have the guy that fathered the certain approach to defense.

"So, Nick's conscious desire to have top-notch coordinators under him really drove a lot of the strategy. And he was hell bent on making sure we had the best. And highly encouraged by his, both analysis of where we're at, no excuses, basically a fundamental understanding of what needs to be better than the last five or six weeks of the season, and not only a return to our championship caliber performance and execution, but improve on that, too. Not just go back to what we were but try to be better than what we were in the really recent past."

Question: Jeffrey, you are speaking highly of Nick but the perception on the outside is that he's on the hot seat going into next season, maybe he's on the short leash. Could you speak to his job security heading into next season?

JEFFREY LURIE: "Absolutely. Every coach is in a high-pressure situation. Nick has had a pretty spectacular first three seasons. And he's shown all the ingredients to have outstanding success. So, I'm just looking forward.

"And there's no coach that's not feeling pressure to perform. That's the way it is in the National Football League. But wow, I mean I think Nick has got all the ingredients, as I've said, and I'm just really excited about this coming season.

"And our roster development, I think, is -- Howie -- you didn't ask about it -- but extremely analytic, self-critical and has an ability to see where we can be much better and has the ability, also, to have a strategy of how to get there.

"I mean, you can say, okay, we need this, we need this, that's not how Howie operates, it's much more multiple. And it's understanding evaluation of where different positions are in the league, where the league is headed in certain ways so you can be a little different. Where can you have advantages, both on salary cap -- on contract structure, on planning ahead, resources, draft allocations?

"I mean, it's extremely -- and he has a great staff. People don't talk about that enough. But he's got an outstanding support staff in all aspects, and we do a lot -- we pay a lot of attention to the ability to construct contracts that gives us opportunities to have distinct advantages in the league, and we'll stick to that approach."

Question: What are your thoughts right now on Haason's situation?

JEFFREY LURIE: "I really wouldn't want to talk about any player, no matter who, under contract to our team or another team. And I'll let that play itself out. We don't have any games for, what, five more months. That will play itself out.

"He's, by the way, a terrific player, great person, great background in Philadelphia. And I just see it will play itself out in a very good way."

Question: As a follow-up to roster building, what perspective did you have on the Saquon Barkley signing, especially in the context of how you've spoken about the running game in these sessions in the past?

JEFFREY LURIE: "How we talked about the running game?"

Question: You've spoken about the running back position and the run game, have you seen a shift there?

JEFFREY LURIE: "Right. So, I think we're always looking for really inefficiencies in the marketplace. If we think the league is overvaluing a position or undervaluing a position, we will try our best, not always capable, of taking advantage of those inefficiencies. That's important as you're trying to maximize the salary cap and how you allocate resources within a defined space.

"But I think with Saquon, one of the things we always talk about, whether it was LeSean McCoy, Brian Westbrook, is the value of a running back is it's not even the word of the title "running back." You have to be a great passing attack running back as well. For us it's got to be multifunctional.

"And he exhibited a very special skill set both in the running and the passing game that we think certainly can be maximized by being on a team with better skill positions, quarterback, offensive line. So, it was a strategy to go.

"I know people think, well, we don't spend on the running back position. That's never really been the case. We would do it very carefully. So, LeSean McCoy, Brian Westbrook, those are instances of players that are really multi-purpose running backs that improve the passing attack, improve the running attack.

"And it's, I think, Howie said it, it's hard to find exceptionally talent players. If you think about it, what we pay Saquon Barkley, take another position of what that's getting in the league and you tell me, is it better to pay Saquon that kind of money or a player at a different position that's getting the exact same amount of money? That's a decision. And Howie led the way there and felt that Saquon was the right way to spend that money."

Question: The way the season ended you talked about evaluating the staff and everything like that. What, if any changes, do you make to the job that you're doing in terms of just the way you oversee things?

JEFFREY LURIE: "I think it's always important -- and humility to me is the most important part of leadership. Vision is very important. But you better have humility. So, when we're in the Super Bowl, like the year before, it's very important for me to be able to emphasize both with myself and with my staff and key executives, remain always humble. Always be critical of what we're doing. We can be better.

"And that's the message I give to myself. It's the message I give to everybody. It's the message I would give to our fans. We've had a lot of success but with that comes the responsibility to be very humble and figure out how can we even be better. So, I challenge myself on that all the time."

Question: You mentioned so much about innovation when it comes to offense. And when it comes to Kellen Moore, what gives you the confidence to be able to elevate and innovate and use these pieces you guys have to take you to the level you want to be?

JEFFREY LURIE: "Well, first of all, I'm encouraged by Nick's support of Kellen, because Nick really brought Kellen into the picture of who we should hire. It was his first choice. And had the fortune of getting to know Kellen quite a bit in the head coach interviewing process. We all did and spent five, six, seven hours with Kellen. We were able to fully evaluate where we thought he was at that point.

"And I think -- I rely on Nick's judgment on this. And on the other hand, I think internally he's one of the most dynamic offensive coordinators in football. We had to play against him every single year. And he's worked with outstanding young quarterbacks.

"And he's always had a very sort of difficult-to-defend multiple attack. And Nick, who was his biggest supporter in this, basically went through how he thinks Kellen will transform our offense into something that's more unpredictable and more dynamic in a great way."

Question: Do you have experience with this type of dynamic where it's the head coach not being the play caller, and then bringing in someone to not only call the plays but to essentially give the scheme a lot of its --?

JEFFREY LURIE: "If you go back to -- it's interesting -- if you go back to who I've hired as head coach, with the exception of Chip Kelly, I've never hired a head coach who has really called any plays. They may have called it when they joined the Eagles or did eventually.

"But I've always prioritized as a head coach many, many other qualities. And I think that's been one of the important aspects. I don't like to talk about it a lot because I feel it's like propriety, how we choose head coaches.

"But if you go back, since you're asking the question, it's the head coach's responsibility to have the plays called really well. It doesn't matter who is calling the plays. You want to have an excellent play caller.

"Does it have to be the head coach? No. When I look for a head coach, I look for things that have big ramifications beyond the ability to call plays. They're all important, but it's never been the reason I've ever hired a head coach."

Question: You talk a lot about qualities with Nick, you mentioned things about how he seems to be in amanagerial role. How do you see him in terms of the development as a young coach working through some of the humility of the past year?

JEFFREY LURIE: "He's extremely self-critical. And that role is managerial. Let me say that. Head coach, the most important aspect of a head coach is the managerial role, the leadership role of it.

"Who you surround yourself is going to determine a lot of your success, and that goes for every aspect of it.

"Humility is a huge part of it because you want people who are driven to succeed and be able to manage that and give them a lot of responsibility. At the same time be a grinder so you can get into the weeds, like Nick does, and be able to assess where things are at all times.

"He's exhibited a lot of growth as a young coach. I think he'll exhibit even more because he is so self-critical. And I look forward to seeing that development because he's had so much early success that I think he can build on it but at the same time he's of that type that's going to just want to improve on it, not settle for the fact that he had early success as a coach."

Question: As far as the season opener in Brazil, what factored into the Eagles playing there? And I guess what role do the Eagles have in the international expansion of the league?

JEFFREY LURIE: "It's probably the biggest area of growth for the National Football League. We are not a sport that has had tremendous global expansion, global growth. It's about to happen.

"The sport is -- its popularity in the United States is like a rocket ship. It's extraordinary in every single metric, every single way -- whether it's women, minorities -- the entire country has adopted the NFL in a way like we've never seen for any sport.

"Internationally, I think it's really important I'm proud we'll be taking the first game to South America. 38 million sports fans. Brazil is the fifth most populated country on the planet. As many of you know, it's an incredibly dynamic country -- multicultural, a real melting pot. In so many ways is really interesting, whether it's the music, the culture, incredible sports fandom. One of the great countries on the planet.

"As part of the international priority, every team is going to play a neutral game where they host a neutral game. I think it's once every six or eight years. And we stepped up and thought let's do it in South America and Brazil, a really dynamic country. And then we won't be doing that as the rotation goes through.

"But we are big supporters of trying to make the NFL a more popular game around the world. I think it's really possible. I know you know we have marketing priorities, arrangements in Australia, New Zealand. We were the first in Africa, in Ghana. And we'll be the first to host a game in Brazil and South America.

"So proud to be an ambassador for the NFL. I think it's America's most incredibly potential export. Most things in America that are really popular become extremely popular globally. The NFL hasn't yet. It's about to have a chance to be.

"And so, to be a part of that, to represent a really good football team that's exciting to watch, I think will be great for Brazil and South America and for the public to see down there. And I'm just proud to be an ambassador and do whatever I can to bring that to both the NFL and our fans. And I think our fans are excited to see their team also get to show the world also."

Question: There was a lot of talk this year about Nick's demeanor on the sideline. Curious from your perspective, did you talk to him about that? What did you think of it going forward?

JEFFREY LURIE: "It's a good question. I think, first of all, one of the aspects that makes Nick really good is he's authentic. He doesn't hold back. That also can be a negative at times.

"On the sideline, you don't want to infuriate the referees. I worry about I want the referees to give us a fair shake. I don't want him to overreact. But I love his passion.

"So, I think he recognizes that it can be a little bit counterproductive if he overdoes his own passion. But you don't want to stop where that passion is coming from. So, it's -- you've got to find a sweet spot. I think he wants to find a sweet spot of what that looks like. I love his passion."

Question: Along those lines, Dom became a celebrity in the NFL world this season. What can you say about the role he plays in the organization?

JEFFREY LURIE: "Dom is, first of all, the best at what he does in the National Football League. It's not just a matter of security, it's culture, it's support systems for players, for everybody. One of the real outstanding executives of the National Football League. And a great person, I think as you all know.

"He is somebody who is a peacekeeper. On the sideline it's unfortunate what happened in the San Francisco game because his intentions were completely to be the peacekeeper. But you have to also understand it from the league perspective that they don't want to have contact with a non-player on the sideline. So, it just was sort of an unfortunate situation.

"But Dom is somebody we all have tremendous respect for and plays an important part of every aspect."

Question: The other end of the demeanor spectrum is Jalen. What are your thoughts on him being the quiet leader? And what ways would you like to see him show more exuberance at times?

JEFFREY LURIE: "Jalen, as I said, he's 25 years old. He's been incredible the last few years. Disappointing ending of the last year as a team.

"The thing with Jalen, and I mentioned about Nick, but the thing about Jalen, I want him to be authentic. That's what he is. It's the worst thing to be 24, 25 and to try to be something. Be authentic as he is. He's an excellent, excellent example.

"You know there's times where stoicism, when we were 10-1 people said, oh, it's because of Jalen's stoicism and calm under the storm that we're 10-1 in all those close games. And then lose a few, and, ah, maybe he's not as demonstrative or whatever.

"I love the way Jalen is. I think he has his own style. I think he'll, like every quarterback goes through ebbs and flows in their career, and so there were so many ups, and then we had a difficult final five or six games of the year.

"He will adjust to that and lead the way because he's really respected for being who he is, and that's -- you have a 25-year-old player, I think you want to reinforce who they are, not try to mold them into somebody they're not. He's an exceptional leader.

Question: You've talked about the importance of assistant coaching staff in the past. You're not afraid to step in where need be. Was this a case where you stepped in and set a parameter where X needed to happen with the coaching staff?

JEFFREY LURIE: "No, I'm glad it wasn't. No. Not at all. This was in the analysis of where we're at. Nick really was adamant about having excellent coordinators. And it was something literally came from Nick.

"I completely ratified it. I felt the same way. But it didn't matter. I trust the people -- I trust Nick and I trust Howie. If Howie says to me, we've got to make a change in the way we look at certain things, I listen to Howie. If Nick says we need to have say more dynamic offense or we need to have a much more -- defense in a different direction, I listen. I listen, because I have trust. And I think that's really important.

"I thought what you were about to say was, do I get involved in the support of it in terms of whether it's salary or things like that. We're very aggressive. If we think there's an excellent coordinator, we will make sure we do everything possible financially to get them.

"I find that the coordinators are extremely important in the NFL. They determine a lot. Coaching positions are more leadership positions than anyone realizes. Coordinators are crucial.

"And also, a shout out to Michael Clay because there were times when our special teams really struggled the last few years. And this year's special teams were pretty outstanding. And Nick stuck with Michael, and kept saying, this is a really good young coach.

"And he inherited him (Clay was on the Eagles' staff before the hiring of Sirianni). That's a little rare in the NFL, too. Inherited them and really wanted to develop him. And Michael did a great job. And we've got a really good thing going there."

Question: Do you know where the league stands on looking into the tampering allegations?

JEFFREY LURIE: I let them do their thing. I respect their process. They have to do it.

Question: Did you do your own internal look at whether that occurred?

JEFFREY LURIE: "We're very comfortable with everything, with our activity. We know exactly what we're doing. So it's not -- we just have to rely on the NFL to do its work and respect that. I'm sure they will."

Question: Do you have any idea where things are headed with Isaiah Rodgers?

JEFFREY LURIE: "I don't. I'm hopeful, very hopeful. He's a key part of our planning going forward. It was a smart move by Howie to acquire Isaiah. And very optimistic he'll be fully on board very soon."

Question: A year ago, you didn't want to talk about the NFLPA player poll, but you guys, in two areas where you didn't score as well, you did go up and there were ways you did address it. Is that in response to that? And what do you think about the poll that came out this year?

JEFFREY LURIE: "I don't remember I ever didn't talk about it. I embrace it. It's not pure evidence. It's an indicator, and I love that. I don't have a way of knowing everything we're doing is top-notch. Anyone who knows me knows I want to have a culture that is outstanding in every single way, and nothing ever gets in the way of that. If I ever learned about something that's not top tier in the National Football League, I'd like to take action right away. I look forward to those player polls and we take action on them as you said. It's helpful."

Question: What is your thought on the kickoff rule?

JEFFREY LURIE: "Kickoff rule, very controversial, I suppose. Took a while to discuss this week. I think it's going to be so much more exciting than what we had. So, there's always a pendulum between health and safety. They almost eliminated kickoff returns. Leading into this past season. We have 13 kickoffs in the Super Bowl, not one got returned. So, I think for the fans this will be so much more exciting. I think for all of us it's going to be exciting. We don't know how it's going to go but it's going to be very exciting. I think it's creative. They got all the special teams coaches together and tried to devise something that would be both as safe as a run play and a pass play, which is a lot safer than a typical kickoff return in the past.

"At the same time, not boring like kick it into the end zone and have no return and it's a wasted play. So I think it's a sweet spot of -- I give the NFL a lot of credit. Unlike a lot of sports, actions get taken to change rules to make the game more exciting, and it's not like wait around for four or five, six years to try to figure out what to do.

"We were sort of embarrassed by kickoffs this past year and how few got returned. Let's do something about it. If it's not perfect, I'm sure it will be seen and we'll adjust it going into the '25 season. But don't be afraid. Don't be risk averse, as I always say. Don't be risk averse. This is going to be interesting. It's going to create a lot of scheme possibilities, a lot of strategy. You can imagine the utilization of different players in the return game and in the tackling game, and it's going to be a challenge for everybody including probably especially the coaches.

Question: Any plans to join the Development Project at the Sports Complex?

JEFFREY LURIE: "You know what, we talk closely all the time with Comcast and with the Phillies, and it's something we monitor. At this point, we're not a part of that, but it's something we monitor closely, and we're part of the sports complex, and we have, what is it, eight or nine more years on our lease. We'll just keep monitoring it and try to figure out what's best for the Eagles."

Question: Seeing more games such as the Brazil game being put on Peacock and Amazon, do you see it happening more and more, what are your thoughts about that?

JEFFREY LURIE: "It's a great question. I don't see it more and more, but what I do see is population embraces streaming in certain ways, tremendously. So technically it was the wild-card game on Peacock that was a huge success. I think they had 21, 22 million viewers, technologically it was excellent. And so it's also a younger demographic. The NFL like other sports leagues but we're proactive when itself comes to demographics, we want to be younger at times, streamers and Amazons have the ability to deliver younger audiences. The beauty of NFL is most of it is on free television and it's going to remain that way a long, long time, that's the basis of the popularity of the NFL.

"I wouldn't want anyone to think -- it's just another way to go to expand distribution of games, but the bulwark of NFL games are free and direct access for all consumers."

Question: Honoring Jason and Fletcher, are there plans to do that at some point?

JEFFREY LURIE: "There will be, they just announced their retirement. But we take it extremely seriously that they deserve it. There's going to be I'm sure lots of celebrations. What happens, you'll see it with Fletcher and B.G. someday, they're a part of the organization, I don't expect any of them to not really be part of what we're doing as the decades go by. That's just the way I see the culture. And I see the culture of this franchise as very special. It's not always perfect. But it's an advantage for us that we have such a relationship with both our players and those that are part of us for a long time to be part of what goes on after their career. With those kind of players, they're going to be just a part of what we're doing. We talk about all the time even during their career. And Fletch, B.G. Jason, these are guys you're going to see around us forever. At least as long as I'm around, and I think it goes long after that. It's part of why I love our team so much, our sport, our franchise, Philadelphia. It's why it's so great to have that family atmosphere. It's not just about wins and losses. That's crucial. We want to be the best. We want to win more Super Bowls. That's a given. But while you're doing it, make it a family process that's wonderful for everybody. Day to day. That's the joy. The camaraderie and the relationships. So those are, back to Jason and Fletch, they'll be part of what we're doing forever."

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