Lurie: Another 8-8 finish unacceptable for Reid and Eagles

Jeffrey Lurie speaks during his annual state of the Eaglesnews conference at Lincoln Financial Field. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff
Jeffrey Lurie speaks during his annual state of the Eaglesnews conference at Lincoln Financial Field. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff)
Posted: September 01, 2012

Coach Andy Reid's Eagles need to improve this season, and a second straight 8-8 finish would be unacceptable, the team's owner, Jeffrey Lurie, said Thursday.

Lurie did not quantify how much Reid's team would need to improve this season. But the owner did say several times that another .500 campaign was "unacceptable."

"I don't have a level or anything like that," Lurie said Thursday during his annual state of the Eagles news conference. "I just want to be clear about that. You just try to make the best judgment you can after the season."

Lurie had used the term "unacceptable" in January when he spoke of the 2011 season. And yet, he announced two days after the last game that Reid would return for his 14th season with the Eagles.

It was not clear then if Lurie would accept a similar result this season. He was asked Thursday if another 8-8 record would constitute a substantial improvement. "No, it would not," Lurie said.

There is a lot of gray area between a .500 record and a Super Bowl victory. Teams have reached the playoffs with an 8-8 or 7-9 record. What if the Eagles lost a significant player to injury, such as quarterback Michael Vick? Would that be taken into consideration when evaluating Reid?

Lurie also said that he can separate Reid the father, whose son Garrett died on Aug. 5 in a Lehigh University dorm room, from Reid the coach.

"I am not going to make blanket statements," Lurie said at Lincoln Financial Field a few hours before the Eagles played their preseason finale against the New York Jets. "I really wanted to try to explain to you that 8-8 was unacceptable. Yeah, I guess if two-thirds of the team is not playing there are always exceptions."

Responding to Lurie's comments, Reid said, "We certainly wouldn't be satisfied with 8-8. We're striving for better than that. I think that's the important thing. . . . I'm not worried about that. I understand the business. I have a great relationship with Jeffrey, so we go play."

Reid said he did not care about having his contract extended before the end of the season.

It has been a year of change for Lurie and the Eagles, as the owner noted. The potential end of Reid's run in Philadelphia would be the capper. In June, Joe Banner, Lurie's longtime friend, stepped down as team president. Several weeks later the Eagles announced that Jeffrey and Christina Lurie were divorcing after 19 years of marriage.

The Luries said in a statement at the time that the split would have no effect on the operation or ownership of the team. Lurie, in his first public comments on the divorce, said that he would maintain his majority stake in the Eagles and have final say on all matters.

"I've structured this franchise around having complete control, [including] 100 percent voting and total, final decision-making," Lurie said.

Christina Lurie will own a minority share in the Eagles, similar to the shares that limited partners Mike Michelson and Richard Green own.

"I've always had a couple limited partners that were nonvoting and not involved in decisions, football decisions particularly," Lurie said. "That continues."

Christina Lurie has remained visible at Eagles games and functions this preseason. Banner is still a senior adviser to the team, Lurie said. But Banner is expected to become president of the Browns once Jimmy Haslam III's purchase of the Cleveland Browns is approved.

With Banner out of the picture, there is no murkiness over who will decide Reid's fate. "It's a very, very subjective decision, and I've always been the one to make it," Lurie said. "Whether it is hiring, changing, or whatever, all of those are mine."

Lurie hired Reid in 1999. After one losing season, the former Green Bay assistant won at least 11 games in each of his next five seasons with the Eagles, reaching the NFC championship game four times and the Super Bowl once.

But the Eagles have won as many as 11 games in a season only once since their appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX after the 2004 season. They have advanced to the NFC title game only once since then. And they have not won a postseason game since the 2008 playoffs.

In December 2009, the Eagles extended Reid's contract through the 2013 season, even though he still had more than one year left on the deal. Earlier this month, Reid's agent, Bob LaMonte, showed up at training camp and said that Lurie had always told him that as long as he was owner, Reid was his coach.

Lurie issued a statement a few hours after LaMonte's comment that said the Eagles would not evaluate Reid until after the season.

"There's just so many things to look at, and I think I always reserve the judgment to look at things after they've unfolded," Lurie said Thursday. "That's what I will continue to do. You won't hear me talking about this during the season."

There's no question everyone else will be talking about Reid's future during the season. Lurie's 8-8 bar - albeit a relatively low one - made the coach's seat a little hotter.

The Eagles have, as Lurie said and many NFL pundits have observed, a very good team on paper. The same was said of last year's team, though.

Like many teams in the league, the Eagles' success will rest largely on the shoulders of their quarterback. Michael Vick struggled last season. He has been prone to injury since joining the Eagles in 2009.

"We just need him to maximize that incredible God-given talent, stay healthy, and deliver the kind of offensive performance that great quarterbacks can," Lurie said of Vick. "This is a quarterback-driven league, and we will go as far as our quarterback play can take us, assuming the rest of our team plays well."

The Eagles open the season Sept. 9 at Cleveland. It has been 52 years since the team last won a championship. The franchise has yet to win a Super Bowl.

"It's a big emptiness," said Lurie, who bought the team in 1994, "because I feel like we've accomplished everything else."


Contact Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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