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Will Eagles' Jeff Lurie be memorable at this week's NFL meetings?

BOCA RATON, Fla. - A year ago at the NFL meetings, we got the "good-to-great" speech from Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie.

BOCA RATON, Fla. - A year ago at the NFL meetings, we got the "good-to-great" speech from Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie.

It isn't clear we'll hear from Lurie again, as the league's owners and general managers settle down to business Monday at the Boca Raton Resort, after gathering for the first time Sunday evening. But at some point, Lurie is likely to bump into Chip Kelly, the former Eagles coach whose power grab Lurie rationalized a year ago, Lurie extemporizing for 40 minutes under a fierce sun outside an annex to the Arizona Biltmore hotel.

Lurie spoke to a crowd of reporters from outlets across the country that day, his first appearance in the more than 2 1/2 months since he'd gone along with Kelly's plan to banish Howie Roseman from the personnel department and allowed Kelly, entering his third year as coach, to remake the team.

"I think what we're evolving into is a roster that fits much better what (Kelly) wants to accomplish schematically and playing style and all that," Lurie said then. "He's talked about this for two years. This is not new news for us internally. He's been very definite about how he wants to evolve. He was patient and wanted to play it out, I think, in terms of these outstanding young athletes we had" such as LeSean McCoy, who wasn't exactly what Kelly thought he wanted.

"This has allowed Chip to take a step back and take a look at where the program is at. To get from good to great - because we're at good - we've got to do some things."


We all know how that worked out. Most of Kelly's changes were ill-advised. By the time he was dismissed, the Eagles a flailing and gasping 6-9, officially out of playoff contention for the second year in a row, it seemed fair to wonder whether Kelly really understood what kinds of players worked best in his offense. There seems little doubt now that McCoy fit the Kelly concept much better than DeMarco Murray, the since-traded, "one-cut" runner Kelly thought he needed.

Kelly is San Francisco's problem now, though on Wednesday, at the NFC coaches' breakfast, he'll have to answer some questions from Philadelphia-area reporters for the first time since he left, which will be interesting. Also scheduled to speak then is new Eagles coach Doug Pederson, though Pederson's availability probably won't attract the largest-in-the-room swarm of reporters that Kelly's appearances at the annual breakfast always did.

For one thing, so far Pederson has been much more accessible than Kelly - this won't be the first time in the offseason we've gotten to ask him in-depth questions. For another, Pederson, the Andy Reid protégé, doesn't have Kelly's national profile, isn't seen as a guy who's trying to change the way the league works.

If Lurie does answer questions, he'll be asked about the perception that Kelly was fired not just because the 2015 season didn't go as planned, but because the rest of the organization - including Lurie - found him impossible to work with.

As the Daily News reported at the time of Kelly's firing, Lurie told a confidant he wanted to "take back the team" from Kelly, even before the Eagles were eliminated from postseason contention.

In retrospect, the seeds of eventual trouble can be discerned from Lurie's address at last year's meetings. A few weeks before, Kelly had brushed off any responsibility for the changes, telling reporters the whole thing was Lurie's idea. Then Lurie, while enthusiastically endorsing Kelly, made it clear that was not the case.

The theme of Kelly ducking responsibility would resonate through the 2015 season. It might not have been a total accident that the coach was fired the day after he responded to a question about balancing coaching and general-managing duties by protesting that he was not the GM. Like so many things Kelly said, that was true in a very narrow, technical sense, false in a broader, functional sense. And it came off as a pathetic attempt at excuse-making.

With Roseman back in charge, the owner who issued last year's proud proclamations about being unafraid to try new ways seems to have decided that the old ways were best. It would be nice to get a better sense of how and when he changed his mind.

But other than the presence of Kelly and the unanswered questions surrounding his exit, these ought to be pretty quiet meetings for the Eagles. Unlike two years ago, when the meetings were in Orlando, Fla., the Eagles didn't hit the ground in Florida trying to trade DeSean Jackson.

Free agency is winding down. Roseman bolted from the gate earlier this month in a whirlwind of moves that settled a lot of business, most crucially freeing the franchise from the albatross-like presence of Murray and Byron Maxwell, and their contracts.

As open as Pederson has been, he isn't yet a familiar figure, and Wednesday's hourlong breakfast will be the most extensive interview session he's given, a good chance to get to really know the man, and learn more about his plans.

Overall, this might finally be the year when Eagles reporters can devote some attention to rule-change proposals at the meetings. Before everyone heads home on Wednesday, we could see the elimination of all chop blocks, the longer extra-point experiment made permanent, overtime done away with in the preseason, and player ejections mandated after two unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, if the penalties meet certain criteria.

If Lurie talks to us, he might be more interested in addressing those topics than in recalling last year's ill-fated oration.