PHILADELPHIA – While Chip Kelly gets plenty of accolades for taking the Philadelphia Eagles from worst-to-first in his first year in the NFL, owner Jeffrey Lurie spreads the credit.
Lurie's decision to hire Kelly after firing Andy Reid following 14 seasons as coach quickly paid off when the Eagles won the NFC East title last year. But Kelly isn't a one-man show.
"I think one of the reasons he's been successful, his staff has been successful is it's been such an excellent team approach, whether it's dealing with player personnel, dealing with the trainers, dealing with sports science," Lurie said Wednesday.
"Everyone is humble about it. Nobody is trying to take responsibility for anything. To be better than 31 other teams, you better be a really good team. It's just not about one person."
Lurie's annual state-of-the-team news conference had a different flavor than recent years. The Eagles are clearly a team on the rise so expectations are higher than they've been since Terrell Owens arrived in 2004 to help Donovan McNabb snap a string of three straight losses in the NFC championship game.
"It'll rise every year because you just want to get better and better," Lurie said of increased expectations. "You never want to plateau out. Getting better every day is my expectation."
Lurie is entering his 20th season in Philadelphia. The Eagles have done it all since he bought the team except for winning the Super Bowl. They came close after losing the three straight NFC championships only to lose 24-21 to New England in the 2005 NFL title game.
"I'm obsessed with it," Lurie said about winning a Super Bowl. "I think if you love the sport as much as I do, and you love this team and this city as much as I do, that's the ultimate goal. Until that happens it's a hunger."
With Kelly leading the way, fans are excited about the possibility the Eagles will finally win their first Super Bowl overall and the franchise's first championship since 1960.
Kelly, known as an offensive mastermind at Oregon, lived up to the hype in his rookie year in the league. The Eagles set several team records in various offensive categories and quarterback Nick Foles had a breakout year in his second season.
Foles had 29 TD passes and only two interceptions and his 119.2 passer rating was the third-best in NFL history. He's eligible for a contract extension after the season, so another big year will put him in line to get a $100 million-plus deal. Those are numbers worthy of a franchise quarterback.
Or is he?
"I have no idea," Lurie said. "But I think he's got a lot of the elements we are looking for, and he's a great person, he's a hard worker and he's going to have an amazing opportunity to get better and better. With the offense and the people we have around him, he's got a great opportunity to have another excellent year."
These Eagles remind observers of Reid's young teams in the early 2000s. Reid inherited a 3-13 club in 1998 and turned them into a playoff team within two years. He led the Eagles to the NFC championship game four straight years, starting with his third season in 2001.
Overall, the Eagles went to the playoffs nine times, won six division championships and played in five conference title games during Reid's 14 seasons.
Kelly already has a head start on Reid by winning in his first year.
"You got a very young team, and a new coach and coaching staff in their second year and you got a young quarterback coming off an outstanding first season," Lurie said. "So there are some similarities."
Now all they have to do is hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
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