Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie held an impromptu press conference Thursday. Lurie spent almost a half hour previewing the 2017 season. Here are five of the most pressing questions from the session.
1. On Howie Roseman's performance: "I think Howie has done a tremendous job. I have real, total confidence in Howie. The last couple years, (he has made) remarkable franchise-changing decisions. As I've said before, it is not easy to not tank and be able to accomplish the goals you want to make in the NFL. It's so hard to get quarterbacks. The maneuvering, the use of assets the way we did, the identification of the one player that we had a lot of confidence in, Carson Wentz, at a time when other teams all needed quarterbacks, that's just one of many, many key things that Howie, the player personnel department, analytics, everybody has participated in, and the coaches in a big way," Lurie said.
"Ever since then, it's been one domino after another in terms of smart moves. Really happy with the additions this offseason, as was last offseason.
"In today's NFL, and I've said this before, it's not simply having, 'Okay, this is your scout or this is your GM, or whatever.' Football operations requires enormous processing and identifying of key data. If you don't a have great player personnel department, an excellent analytics department, really good sports science, top-notch player development, excellent teaching, you're not going to be the team you want to be.
"Howie's primary function is to organize that and to be the final decision-maker when it comes to the key moves we make, and also to structure contracts so that we can maximize our assets.
"The way he structured the Sam Bradford contract allowed us to retrieve a first-round draft choice and a fourth-round draft choice. (That is something that is) very hard to accomplish in this league. We also didn't have a lot of assets to be able to trade up in terms of getting Carson for that No. 2 pick. We were not a 2-14 team. We were going to be drafting 13 (13th overall pick). How do you get there? How do you get up there? We could get to eight. It was a double move. Very rare.
"When you look back on the last couple years, very impressive performance. I couldn't have more confidence in Howie."
2. On the expectations for Doug Pederson: "Okay, the expectation this year is that we have improved the team. Who knows how the season's going to go in terms of injuries, whether chemistry comes together. Every season's a marathon. It's not determined until you really look back on it and what happened and how successful were you," Lurie said.
"But I think I love the blueprint we have. I think that we are headed in a terrific direction. Look, I think, honestly, you're dealing with a team that's a pretty young team. You have some veterans at select positions like punter, things like that, and left tackle. But basically a young team that has re-signed a lot of players, a lot of the core players, (and the) ability to acquire future players will evolve and have a great opportunity there to do that.
"The key is that we have the opportunity to compete strongly now, and that's what I expect. I expect us to compete strongly. We're in the second year of a very potentially special, young quarterback. We don't even know that yet.
"So you look around the league. Like all of us, we look around. We see the good, young quarterbacks, how they do in their second year, how the teams do in their second year. It's not so much these young quarterbacks don't evolve. I think there's a similarity to the way Marcus Mariota, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, you name it, the ones that are successful, you can see Year 1, Year 2, Year 3. My expectation with Carson is he'll be better in Year 2 than Year 1; he'll significantly be better in Year 3 than Year 2; and he'll be significantly better in Year 4 than Year 3.
"That's where we're at. The difference in records of the teams with all those, you can research it yourself, but it typically I think is how terrific do you surround him. You have young quarterbacks that join teams and take them to the Super Bowl. But those are teams basically that have top-two, top-three defenses. We hope to be there. We hope to be there. But that's the rarity.
"I see us as a team with an excellent blueprint, great opportunity, terrific direction, but we're in Year 2 of the plan."
3. On the strong criticism by a former NFL GM who is now in the media of Pederson: "I have a strong endorsement of Doug. First of all, those comments, you guys call it 'Click Bait' or 'Hot Takes,' that's how I saw that," Lurie said.
"But Doug, think about this, I mean, he took over a team that had some locker room issues with the previous head coach. He lost his starting quarterback (eight) days before the start of the season, and was asked to use our young third-string quarterback. He had to put together a coaching staff. My personal evaluation of the coaching staff that he put together, or inherited, but was open to inherit, is outstanding. I mean, really outstanding.
"That's a huge credit because quarterback analysis, locker room chemistry, and the ability to put together a top-notch coaching staff, those are three real key ingredients. I think he aced them all.
"Yes, there's going to be growing pains with any first-year head coach. We had that with Andy (Reid), we had it with Chip (Kelly), we've had it no matter who it is. I see him as someone who can keep improving. He's a listener. He's a collaborator. I think he has terrific relationships with the players. The future is in front of him, and it's there for the taking."
4. On the partnership between Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas: "I've been incredibly impressed with the two of them. Howie has been a terrific manager. I think with a lot of self-reflection (he) has become somebody that has organized those multiple departments in a very good way, attracting Joe, Andy (Weidl), and that whole group has been terrific. Joe has just been wonderful to work with. They seem to be working great together," Lurie posited
"The nice thing about them is I think they can have a lot of open discussion on every issue. That's how you reach the best decisions. That's what I've seen. Was very happy with the whole process in the draft this year. I thought it was very thorough. It was very strategic. We knew exactly what we would do if 'X' player wasn't there. It was simply a great discussion about what to do in the second round. That was an upside decision, obviously, with the organization. It hurt the short-term, but we thought it was, looking forward, we don't expect to be drafting in the top 10 for a while, hopefully for a decade or more. And it's hard to get cornerbacks that you rate in the Top One or Two in the draft. Very hard to get.
"So (we) did a lot of research. Howie and Joe lead the way and basically made the gamble that (CB) Sidney (Jones) can be the premier cornerback we think he can be, and healthy. It's a gamble, but it was something we thought was a good strategy."
5. On whether or not this is a playoff team: "Oh, I think so much happens in a given season that you can never say that. I mean, I've never in 23 years, even coming off all those multiple NFC Championship Games, and NFC East titles and all that, I've never come and said, 'We're obviously a playoff team.' It just doesn't work that way in the NFL," Lurie noted.
"Look at last year. What was Atlanta's record going into the season and what was Dallas' record going into the season last year? I think Dallas became the No. 1 seed. What was Atlanta, 6-10, going into last year? And with Matty Ice (Falcons QB Matt Ryan), who is a very good quarterback.
"We'd be sitting here talking about, 'How can you have Matty Ice and be 6-10?' (Then) they developed one hell of a team.
"It's sort of foolhardy to make any predictions, whatsoever."