Lurie: 'This is just the tip of the iceberg'
Since 1995, the Eagles have reached the playoffs 12 times, the conference semifinal round eight times, the NFC Championship game five times and the Super Bowl once. (USA Today Images)
The Eagles’ 10-6 season, division title and playoff berth was only “the tip of the iceberg” for the Eagles, owner Jeff Lurie said in the team’s locker room following the franchise’s 53rd consecutive season without an NFL championship.
“Oh, for sure,” Lurie said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a missed opportunity and it’s the tip of the iceberg. I think that everyone in this room knows it.
“It’s a very young team and at the same time, they already learned what it takes. Now they just have to execute a little bit better, have a better start of the season, and I think that they clearly feel as though they have what it takes.”
Lurie, who bought the Eagles in 1994, has now gone 20 years without winning a championship, and the Eagles have gone 53 years in a row without a title.
Since 1995, the Eagles have reached the playoffs 12 times, the conference semifinal round eight times, the NFC Championship game five times and the Super Bowl once.
All those seasons ended like this year’s. With a disappointing playoff loss. The Eagles lost 26-24 to the Saints Saturday night in a wild-card-round game (see story), the fourth straight postseason loss for the Eagles and third first-round loss in five years.
“I think we have to get off to a better start of the season,” Lurie said. “This year we had a young team and they were just finding out how good they were. I think if we can get a first-round bye next year, that would be the goal. I think we will aim to win the division and get a bye.
“But this group is awfully pleasing to us and the fans. It is such a great group of guys, the players and the coaches that you can’t help but root for them because they try so hard.”
The Eagles’ improvement from four wins to 10 matched the largest in franchise history, and head coach Chip Kelly became the first coach in Eagles history to win a division or conference title in his first season.
“There is just so much promise with Chip, his staff and this whole group,” Lurie said. “It’s not just about his X’s and O’s, we know it’s pretty dynamic. But his ability to rally and bring people together for a common cause is very impressive and is going to serve us great starting next year. …
“We have a young dynamic coaching staff, merged with a young terrific group of players, who really want to win. … There [are] just so many good, young players around this locker room that will be incredibly dedicated when they come back next spring. We know that.”
Lurie made several references to the terrific chemistry he saw from a team that had very poor chemistry the last couple years.
“They do it with class and they do it with great chemistry,” he said. “They love each other. They will do anything to train and be better. This will only serve to motive them further. They know now that they are good, now they just have to get better.”
The only coach to take the Eagles to the playoffs in his first two years was Ray Rhodes in 1995 and 1996. But those were old teams without a quarterback and the success wasn’t sustainable.
“We have excellent young talent and wonderful coaches,” Lurie said. “That is a powerful combination. If you combine those three things, you can go anywhere. There was a missed opportunity tonight. We were a dangerous team.”
Lurie believes that the Eagles, with the second-youngest roster in the NFL and presumably a 24-year-old franchise quarterback in place, are looking at a sustained period of success, kind of like they had with Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb from 2000 through 2010, when the team reached the playoffs nine of 11 years.
“When you make a coaching change, you have to transform to a new culture,” Lurie said. “These players and the coaching staff just formed an incredible bond, ability to prepare and an ability to win. That can take years and they did it in six months. That is what is so great here.
“We are all crushed to be eliminated. We are in this because we love it so much, but I have no doubt that we will be back and that we are more confident than ever, now that we know what we can accomplish.”