The winningest owner in Eagles’ franchise history hasn’t gotten to this point by being passive. When Jeffrey Lurie bought the team in 1994, he took over a team that struggled in early playoff games and building talent.
Since his arrival though, the Eagles have been to seven conference championship games, three Super Bowl appearances, and one title. His consistent barometer of excellence has turned the Eagles franchise from snake-bitten losers to annoying winners. There’s one reason why this change has been made though from Lurie and the Eagles.
His gambles have worked out more times than not.
Whether it was hiring an unknown man in Andy Reid in 1999, defying the fanbase by drafting Donovan McNabb, hiring Doug Pederson and Nick Sirianni, or keeping Howie Roseman after recent failures, Lurie’s best gambles have paid off in a way where the Eagles have been one of the best teams in football.
Perhaps no gamble was bigger though than drafting Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Already paying a quarterback like Carson Wentz franchise money, the Eagles quickly moved away from him and gambled on the development of Hurts as a passer and leader.
And he has not disappointed.
“He is a great young leader. He is a terrific young quarterback. When we drafted him it was the upside we were banking on. We thought he had a huge upside. It takes a couple of years. And somebody so dedicated as [QB] Jalen [Hurts] and such a great teammate. Inevitably he is going to maximize everything he has and that’s what he’s done.” Lurie told reporters after the Eagles’ 31-7 win over San Fran in the NFC Title game.
Gambling on Hurts’ development also meant gambling on building the team around him so he could take that next step. It started in the 2022 off-season with additions like Haason Reddick, AJ Brown, and Chauncey Garnder-Johnson.
“We thought we had an opportunity to be really great. It was taking advantage of a perception that we thought we had a chance to be an outstanding team. And a mix of veterans in their eighth, 10th, and 12th year with a lot of wonderful young players, including the quarterback who is that way.” Lurie added “But yeah, we really felt it was a great opportunity but you have to get the right players. And we have the right players.”
Lurie isn’t afraid of taking gambles and watching them pay out. Some don’t always though. Chip Kelly was considered a different mind than Andy Reid that Lurie took a chance on and it ended up blowing up in his face.
Other gambles like Jaun Castillo, Carson Wentz, and Ray Rhodes all struggled in Philadelphia.
But while Hurts’ might be the franchise’s biggest gamble, their most recent win with their coaching staff shows just how good Lurie is at finding the right people for the job.
“The coaches, I can’t overestimate the value of the coaches. Nick is outstanding, smart, connects with everybody, cares is passionate. And at the same time, his staff is outstanding. They are all similar in age, they are young, and they get along great. You have to have a great culture of the coaching staff. He has that. Whether it’s [defensive coordinator] Jonathan Gannon, [offensive coordinator] Shane [Steichen], or [run game coordinator/offensive line coach Jeff] Stout [Stoutland] is the elder statesman but wow, we know what we have in Stout. And many more, from [quarterbacks coach] Brian [Johnson], the whole group.”
Eagles are soaring
Going up against the coach that brought his team to NFL relevance, Jeffrey Lurie will need to gamble one more time on the 2022-23 Eagles to get their second Lombardi Trophy.
And his gambles have been pretty solid so far.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum