EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie stood in the locker room after the final game and was simultaneously optimistic and clinical in his dissection of the team's 2014 season.
He was optimistic about the young talent on the roster but clinical about the problems. He identified three areas that need fixing: turnovers, red-zone inefficiency, and too many deep passes against the defense.
The first two are a lot about the quarterback. In that way, Lurie helped to frame the debate that will consume the franchise and the city until a decision is made. The question is whether Nick Foles, who was great in 2013 and erratic in 2014 before suffering what turned out to be a season-ending collarbone injury on Nov. 2, is the quarterback they need if they are to get to the Super Bowl.
Lurie would not say. Three times, he was asked about Foles and about quarterbacking. Three times, he declined to make a definitive statement about Foles' future.
"Individual players, I don't want to talk about. The coaches prepare. What I do is read every report. They won't even be able to fully evaluate everybody for the next few weeks. I'm sure by March we'll know exactly what we're planning to do.
"But Nick, I feel so bad he got hurt. It's a shame because, under Chip [Kelly] and the staff, he's 14-4 and that's pretty damn good. He's a hard worker, great guy. We'll just have to see. But that's pretty unusual."
Overall rating of answer:
"I think it remains to be seen [if the Eagles have Super Bowl-caliber quarterbacking]. It's very hard to answer that until you accomplish it. You can point to people that have accomplished it - Aaron [Rodgers] and Tom [Brady] and Peyton [Manning] and those guys. That's the elite of the NFL. And Drew [Brees]. Until you accomplish that, you can't say you have it. We've just got to always make that position THE most important and do whatever you can to be the best at that position you can. There's a scarcity of quarterbacks - let's face it. There are a lot of teams that really struggle at that position. We've always got to try to win big and focus on that position at all times . . .
"I'm very frustrated that [Foles] only played half the year. He played when our line was banged up at its most. He won most of the games, but we've got to limit the turnovers and that's part of the issue on offense. We cannot lead the league in turnovers - let's face it."
Overall rating of answer:
"It's not easy [drafting late in rounds]. You've got to really catch a break. You've got to find the players that are undervalued. That's what happens. Obviously with Aaron, with Green Bay, they got an undervalued player at that point [late in the first round]. That has to happen for a franchise to have that type of situation.
"You're always faced with that. Every team is faced with that. We didn't go from Peyton to Luck - let's put it that way."
Overall rating of answer: cold.
Lurie was just reflecting what everybody is thinking. Even the people who are big Foles backers cannot help but wonder what he was looking at during some games this year, and why his mechanics became so sloppy. He is clearly the best quarterback currently on the roster, but is that enough for Kelly? We don't know, and Lurie was not letting on.
Maybe they throw the vast majority of their resources at the defense and hope that Foles settles down next season - after all, he is a good player and the talent and the scheme and the coach are good enough that the Eagles still scored a bunch of points this year when they weren't turning the ball over.
Maybe that's the way they play it, counting on Kelly's ability to make up for whatever Foles might be lacking. Maybe.
"I think we have a better picture of exactly where we need to upgrade," Lurie said, when asked to compare how he felt at the end of last season to now. "I think you have to wait and evaluate every game very carefully, don't make rash decisions at the end of the 16th game. But I think there's a clear path to improving the team and getting better and better.
"To me, it's an upward path. Really optimistic. I think we've got excellent people in place and a really good young nucleus. We've just got to get better and there's clear areas to upgrade. We've got to find every possible way and avenue of upgrading."
Overall rating of answer? Your guess is as good as anyone's.