Jeffrey Lurie said he decided to meet with reporters Thursday "to share my excitement for the season with the fans," as his Eagles prepare to open their 2017 schedule with a visit Sunday to the Washington Redskins.
But how excited is the chairman, exactly?
The answer seems to be "kinda, sorta."
In his last previous public remarks, in Arizona at the March NFL meetings, Lurie stressed taking the long view toward the second season of quarterback Carson Wentz and head coach Doug Pederson. Lurie said then that the team was not "one player away" from championship contention and said "multiple drafts in a row" would have to turn out well to get the Eagles to that point.
Since then, the team has added defensive ends Derek Barnett and Chris Long, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, and cornerback Ronald Darby, among others, making a playoff quest this season look at least a little more likely than it did that day in Phoenix. But Lurie's tone remained cautious Thursday.
He said he expects improvement, but would not go so far as to agree that improvement equals making the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
"I think so much happens in a given season, you can never say that," Lurie said. "I've never come out and said, 'oh we're obviously a playoff team.' It just doesn't work that way in the NFL."
Lurie noted that Atlanta and Dallas, 11-5 and 13-3 respectively last season, were 8-8 and 4-12 in 2015.
"It's sorta foolhardy to make any predictions whatsoever," Lurie said.
Lurie said he was "really happy with the additions this offseason."
"Can you take a patient midterm, long-term view and at the same time, maximize your short-term opportunities? That's not easy to do in the NFL," Lurie said. "What I think we've been able to do this offseason is really improve with a lot of good young players, position ourselves to be able to re-sign every good young player we have, and at the same time, adding some one-year players like Alshon Jeffery and Timmy Jernigan, where you have the ability to potentially have their rights, extend them, see how they are and go forward."
Lurie referenced teams "just trading away assets and trying to get draft picks," trying to position themselves for the 2018 quarterback draft class, as Buffalo and the New York Jets are perceived to be doing.
"We've taken the philosophy that we can try to find a way to get a franchise quarterback, and then try to really maximize both the short-term and the long-term as best you can," Lurie said. "Consistently, every decision for the short-term has been where we don't sacrifice any midterm or long-term flexibility. That was the absolute standard that we believed in and do believe in."
Asked what this means for Pederson, 7-9 his first season, Lurie said: "The expectation this year is that we have improved the team. Who knows how the season's going to go in terms of injuries, whether chemistry comes together? Every season's a marathon. It's not determined until you really look back on it and what happened, how successful you were."
Minor quibble: Isn't the chemistry coming together one of those things the coach gets judged on? Lurie defended Pederson on several fronts Thursday, but it was hard not to hear echoes of the chairman's enthusiastic, almost giddy endorsement of Chip Kelly just before the 2015 opener, roughly 3½ months before Lurie fired Kelly.
"But I think I love the blueprint we have. I think that we are headed in a terrific direction," Lurie said. "Look, I think, honestly, you're dealing with a team that's a pretty young team. You have some veterans at select positions like punter [Donnie Jones is 37], things like that, and left tackle [Jason Peters is 35]. But basically, a young team that has re-signed a lot of players, a lot of the core players, [and the] ability to acquire future players will evolve.
"The key is that we have the opportunity to compete strongly now, and that's what I expect. I expect us to compete strongly. We're in the second year of a very potentially special young quarterback. We don't even know that yet" – whether Wentz will turn out to be special, and if he is, how special.
Lurie referenced other young, developing quarterbacks, then said: "My expectation with Carson is he'll be better in Year 2 than Year 1; he'll significantly be better in Year 3 than Year 2; and he'll be significantly better in Year 4 than Year 3."
Lurie said winning a Super Bowl usually comes down to how good you are at building talent around the quarterback, and that takes time, unless the QB joins a team that already has a lights-out, dominant defense.
"We hope to be there [early in Wentz's development]. We hope to be there," Lurie said. "But that's the rarity."