Jeffrey Lurie's trust in Chip Kelly runs deep

Jeffrey Lurie's trust in Chip Kelly runs deep
April 29, 2014, 10:15 am

Jeffrey Lurie fully supported his coach's decision to cut three-time Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson. (USA Today Images)

For someone who has no problems admitting that he’s obsessed with winning a Super Bowl, someone who has spent billions trying to bring the city its first Lombardi Trophy, Jeffrey Lurie’s approval of his head coach’s decision to discard the team’s best wide receiver seems curious.

The NFL is a passing league and DeSean Jackson just had the best season of his career. But Lurie defended Kelly on Monday as reporters tried to unearth something resembling a legitimate excuse for Kelly kicking a 27-year-old, three-time Pro Bowl wideout to the curb.

Speaking about the decision for the first time, Kelly had already called the move “purely a football decision” and dismissed questions about Jackson’s posse or selfish attitude factoring into the decision (see story). Lurie echoed Kelly’s sentiment, saying he understood that Jackson wasn’t “the right fit” for Kelly’s scheme.

The longtime team chairman had to know how utterly ridiculous he sounded, given that Jackson was coming off the second-best receiving season in franchise history and surely would have vaulted to the top of most franchise’s receiving marks had he played a few more years in Kelly’s offense.

But in backing his head coach, Lurie made it clear that he’s steering his franchise into the future behind this motto: In Chip We Trust.

If Kelly wants to make major personnel changes, including the abrupt cutting of a popular and productive star player, Lurie isn’t going to stand in the way.

“He wants us to be a better offense,” Lurie said. “And I know you can say statistically, ‘Gee, you lose DeSean, how can you be a better offense?’ You know, if you add Nick Foles last year (in place of Mike Vick) and say, ‘How can you be a better offense?’ It was a record-setting offense.

“With Chip, I just give him the benefit of the doubt. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get there. It’s an organization that absolutely supports the direction we’re going, and that’s the best way to be, everyone in it together.”

Of the team’s three major power brokers -- Lurie, Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman -- Lurie offered the most insight into why Jackson was served his walking papers on March 28, allowing the receiver to become a free agent and eventually sign with the rival Redskins.

Lurie alluded to the offseason trend of teams releasing high-priced veterans after being unable to work out trades. He also mentioned Kelly’s evaluation of postseason performances. The Saints held Jackson to just 53 yards on three catches in the Eagles’ first-round loss. Jackson has nine catches for 114 yards in his last three playoff games, an average of 38 yards per game.

But the veiled message in Lurie’s stamp of approval is the owner’s unwavering faith in his head coach after one moderately successful season.

He hired Kelly, who had no prior NFL coaching experience at any level, to build a unique program that turned an average college team into a national powerhouse and hoped it would yield similar results for his franchise.

So far, after a 10-win season and first-round playoff exit, Kelly has done nothing to convince Lurie that the Eagles aren’t closer to curing the owner’s obsession.

“I think this is going to be a very good football team,” Lurie said, when asked how the Eagles can endure the loss of 1,332 receiving yards and the league’s preeminent deep threat. ““We’ll see how it all comes together.

“Just thinking about last year, this time last year, while I was painting there. (We) weren’t sure of who the quarterback was going to be. Weren’t sure how the wide receivers were going to be. A lot of positions were up in the air.

"After watching what Chip and his group were able to strategize, put together and implement, it wasn’t like everyone thought it would be in terms of predictable certain things from Oregon. It was what’s going to be best in the NFL? I think this is just sort of the tip of the iceberg of what this team can perform and do.”

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