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Jeffrey Lurie preaches patience with Eagles

PHOENIX - Even though Jeffrey Lurie has owned the Eagles for nearly 23 years and has yet to win a Super Bowl, he remains a patient man.

PHOENIX - Even though Jeffrey Lurie has owned the Eagles for nearly 23 years and has yet to win a Super Bowl, he remains a patient man.

At least, that was the persona the Eagles owner took on during his first news conference in a year.

While fans remain understandably antsy about the franchise's prospects in regard to finally winning a championship, Lurie said Tuesday at the NFL owners meetings that the Eagles must stay committed to a long-term methodology that was put in place after the decision was made to exhaust team resources to acquire quarterback Carson Wentz.

"It takes a very patient, disciplined approach," Lurie said. "Short-term solutions to get to 10-6 . . . without a quarterback are non-sustainable. You've got to draft well. You've got to have multiple drafts in a row, hopefully, where you're surrounding that quarterback on all sides of the ball. That's the formula. It's not that complicated.

"It's hard to accomplish, but it's not that complicated."

Lurie's message doesn't exactly mesh with some of the personnel decisions made over the last two offseasons, though. And it doesn't exactly intertwine with increasing evidence that the owner has taken on a more active role - an aggressive one - in football operations.

But one thing is certain: Lurie doesn't believe that his Eagles are currently built to contend with the Patriots and other perennial playoff contenders that have elite quarterbacks who give their teams a chance to win a title.

Asked for his expectations for 2017, Lurie said, "It's all about consistent improvement." Asked for a timetable for winning a Super Bowl now that the Eagles seemingly have what the owner said was the best structure for winning - "to have a terrific quarterback" - Lurie tempered expectations.

"We're not one player away. We have lots of holes," Lurie said. "And you've got to recognize that first. We've got lots of holes. We have to draft really well over the next few years to accomplish what we want to accomplish early on in Carson's career."

But the Eagles were once again significant players in free agency. They signed the top wide receiver in the market - Alshon Jeffery - to a one-year, $14 million contract with $9.5 million guaranteed.

They added another receiver in Torrey Smith, signed backup quarterback Nick Foles, and inked two veterans - defensive end Chris Long and cornerback Patrick Robinson - to deals that could be considered the kind of "Band-Aid" moves Roseman said he was hoping to avoid this offseason.

"When you're patient, you also have opportunities," Lurie said. "The key to that is to have optionality. It's not to say we're not going to pay any good players."

Jeffery is only 27 and he addressed the Eagles' greatest need. But Smith is 28, Robinson 29, and Long 32. Roseman was buying some insurance so that he won't have to press needs in next month's draft, but too often those "Band-Aids" have taken on greater roles because the Eagles' drafts have been suspect.

Nevertheless, the Eagles do have a base with Wentz. And it was Roseman who engineered a series of moves that netted the quarterback and allowed him to play as a rookie. Lurie modestly placed the executive vice president of football operations back in charge of personnel after coach Chip Kelly was fired last offseason, but a year later he doubled down on Roseman.

"I have a lot of confidence is Howie," Lurie said, "and I have a tremendous amount of confidence in how he's organized football operations."

Roseman hired Joe Douglas in May and, by all accounts the new vice president of football operations will be given some leeway in crafting the Eagles' draft board.

"The draft is going to be really built by Joe and the final decision will be made by Howie," Lurie said. "But these guys are unbelievably collaborative."

Lurie is typically hyperbolic when talking about his employees, and he was no different here, but it has increasingly become difficult to trust his impulses. Two years ago, he stood not far from where he sat Tuesday and touted the decision to give Kelly full control over personnel at Roseman's expense.

He would later say, after firing Kelly, that he gave the coach control only because he wanted to hold him accountable. But it was a remarkable turn of opinion in just nine months.

"I don't regret giving Chip that opportunity because I had to decide whether he was going to be fully capably of that responsibility," Lurie said. "On the other hand, I think that job performance obviously didn't meet with my expectations and it was a clear decision that was not the way to go."

Lurie and Roseman hired Kelly and would be proven to be wrong. The same two men hired Doug Pederson three years later. After a 7-9 rookie season, there isn't anywhere near enough evidence to say that they got this coach right.

And there is still some doubt as to how much clout Pederson has in terms of personnel and his coaching staff. The New York Jets asked to interview quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo in January, but the Eagles blocked him from a possible promotion.

Lurie said Pederson made the final decision.

"Doug talked to me about it, and we talked about the need to keep stability for Carson at that position," Lurie said. "I just supported Doug. This was a no-brainer."

But four independent NFL sources told the Inquirer in January that Lurie stepped in and overruled Pederson, who had originally told DeFilippo that he could interview for coordinator openings.

Lurie said that his involvement in football decision hasn't changed and that his job is still to give his people the resources to do their jobs.

"I love football and I've always, whether we're going to select Donovan McNabb, move up to take Carson, or whatever we're doing," Lurie said. "But my role is to provide the resources, but I ask a lot of questions to create the final strategy."

That strategy netted Wentz. It has bought the Eagles time.

"Someday," Lurie said, "we can write a book about this if it all works out."