Lurie to NFL: Careful with playoff expansion

Lurie to NFL: Careful with playoff expansion
January 31, 2014, 2:00 pm
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The Eagles have made the playoffs in four of the past six seasons. (USA Today Images)

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, whose team has made the postseason just once in the past six seasons, would like to expand the playoffs and have more teams vie for the Super Bowl.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, whose team has missed the postseason just twice in the past six years, isn’t necessarily in lock step with his NFC East rival owner.

Lurie on Friday said he’s reluctant to add more teams to the postseason, fearing the result might dilute the significance of the 16-game regular season and provide competitive advantage for teams that get more preparation time for a second-round game.

Right now, six teams from each conference -- four division winners and two wild cards -- qualify for the postseason, but the NFL is considering adding another playoff team from each conference (see story) to expand the pool from 12 to 14.

"We've got to be careful,” Lurie said in an interview Friday with the NFL Network. “We've always wanted to be a league that it's not easy to make the playoffs. I think adding one team per conference might work. We've got to schedule it in a way where the follow-up games allow for equal preparation for all teams.

“These are crucial games -- you don't want to have a competitive advantage because one team has four or five days to prepare and the other has seven. So I think it's doable, we've got to be careful, but I could be in favor of it if we can figure out a way to schedule it where there's no competitive advantage."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell favors the two-team playoff expansion and said Friday in his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference that the issue will "continue to get serious consideration."

Playoff expansion will be discussed further at the league’s competition committee meetings.

Earlier this month, Jones expressed his preference for an expanded bracket. Dallas, which has won only one playoff game since the 1995 season, has finished 8-8 in each of the past three seasons.

“From the standpoint of looking at how exciting it is for a city or a community to be involved in the playoffs and the fact that you can have a team that might have literally operated at .500 or in that area ... you can have that team win the Super Bowl,” Jones said.

“That makes a big case for adding a couple of more cities or communities that have NFL teams to the playoffs. It just creates that much more excitement and that much more interest for people in those communities. So I fall on the side of the ledger that would increase the playoffs.”

Lurie also chimed in on other league and Eagles-related topics:

• On an enhanced replay system, Lurie said he’s “firmly in favor of that.”

“I think what we can do is still limit the number of challenges if we don't go to a central system, and I just think coaches and teams will want to wait and use their challenges for big plays,” he said.

“Those can be pass interference calls, they can be big plays, game-impacting plays. It's frustrating when you find a play that could have changed a game and you can't challenge it. I think we've got to address that and I think we will. The replay system is evolving and it evolves every year. There's some changes we can make that can really improve the game."

• Lurie said he would favor a centralized system if research provides evidence that it would work.

“I just want to make it so the fans, all of us, we have so much invested in it that we don't suffer from poor calls or lack of replay experience in terms of making those final decisions on big plays,” he added. “Want it available to reverse if it's necessary."

 On Nick Foles, Lurie said his second-year quarterback has “been great.”

“What a first year and a half with Nick, spectacular. Real smart, poised, wants to be great, he's got a lot to be great and great teammate, great leader, he's got a lot going for him. But in the NFL you've got to compete at all times, but he's had an amazing first year and a half."

• On Mike Vick wanting to start:

"I think Michael is deserving to compete. I think there will be teams interested in him. He's been a great teammate, he's been a great person in the community in Philly and I wish Michael the best. He's a good guy and I hope that good things happen. He's been a great help to Nick."