By JACK McCAFFERY
--- About a year ago Sunday night, Jeffrey Lurie was being hustled in
and out of an Eagles locker room, trying to avoid the inevitable
questioning and trying to avoid the many jabbing, pointing fingers of
A year later, he
was in the middle of an Eagles locker room, accepting handshakes, the
owner of an NFC East championship team.
“What can I say?”
Lurie said after the Birds' 24-22 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
“It's a big difference. But when you are down, it gives you an
opportunity to change things. And we had one losing season last year
and it drove us all to try to make a great decision on who we wanted
to lead the way out of that and onto bigger things.
“You've got to
really analyze it and make a bold decision. And we wanted to make a
A day after the
Eagles ended their 4-12 2012 season, Lurie fired Andy Reid, his
friend, his coach for 14 years. He would replace him with Chip Kelly,
from the University of Oregon, with exactly 14 fewer years than Reid
as an NFL head coach.
The result: A 10-6
season, the division championship and a first-round playoff game
scheduled against the New Orleans Saints Saturday night in the Linc.
“I didn't have
any worries that Chip would not be able to translate to the NFL,”
Lurie said. “That was the least of my concerns.”
In Kelly, Lurie
would invest in a different offense, a faster one, one more dedicated
to the run. Kelly would make some personnel changes, some scheme
changes and some changes that were even more subtle.
“A new offense, a
new defense, hiring great people,” Lurie said. “And the main
thing when you change coaches, and we do it so rarely, is to
institute a new program and a new culture. And it is, 'Can you create
it?', and, 'Can you get it across?'”
In Lurie's view,
that's what Kelly had done, regenerating a positive spirit just 365
days after so many hard feelings would be followed by so many hard
“This locker room
is as good as it gets in sports,” Lurie said. “And I think that
is a credit to the coaches and to the players. There is amazing
chemistry and it is an incredible locker room. And that is a big part
“There is just so
much to Chip,” Lurie added. “Obviously, he is extremely bright.
But what you really saw was leadership at all times, whether you are
riding high or riding low, facing big obstacles or small obstacles.
At all times, Chip brings people together. He brings players
together, coaches together. And that's what we are looking for. It's
not easy to change coaches and find a coach that you really want go
go after. But we were patient and went after Chip.”
Lurie was patient
in the selection process. But 17 weeks later, he was a bit less calm.
“It was extremely
nerve-wracking,” he said of the division-clinching game. “That
would be an understatement. I expected it to be this way. I didn't
expect it to be an easy game.”
victory was not easy, nor was the division championship, which
required an entire regular season to achieve.
And, yes, Lurie
knows that there are some other championships, plural, that he has
semi-promised and continues to stalk.
“Again, a big win
tonight, winning the division in Chip's first year,” Lurie said.
“It's spectacular. But we have a long way to go --- a long way to