What to expect when Jeff Lurie breaks his silence this week

What to expect when Jeff Lurie breaks his silence this week

PHOENIX -- Amid reports over the last year that Jeffrey Lurie had become more vocal and hands-on with his football team, the owner was noticeably quieter in the public eye. 

One year and six days. 

That's how long his silence in the media will have lasted once Lurie finally breaks it as he's expected to speak to reporters Tuesday night at around 8:30 ET.  

The 65-year-old Eagles owner spoke during last year's owners' meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, on March 22, 2016, and hasn't graced the local media with his words since. The timing of the wordlessness seems bizarre. For the first time in years, the franchise seems to have stability. 

Remember, in 2012, Lurie fired Andy Reid, then hired Chip Kelly. The three years in the Kelly era were anything but dull and led to another fired coach and a resurrected general manager. 

So, no, there isn't as much going on with the Eagles this offseason as there was a year ago, just after Doug Pederson was hired and Howie Roseman was reinstated back into power. 

Still, there's plenty to talk about with Lurie on Tuesday night, starting with his perceived and reported increased role in football matters. 

The most obvious case of this was his decision to block the New York Jets from interviewing quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo for their vacant offensive coordinator position. Multiple outlets -- ESPN first -- reported that it was Lurie's call to prevent DeFilippo from leaving. While there's a strong structure in place for franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, no coach spends as much time with the young QB as DeFilippo. 

Aside from the DeFilippo decision, Lurie seemed to have taken a more active role throughout the season, when he met with Pederson often. That was something we hadn't heard of him doing with Reid or Kelly in the past. 

While Lurie talked to Pederson plenty throughout the season, he hasn't talked about Pederson since the head coach went through his first season under the helm. Lurie's assessment of not just Pederson, but also Wentz's rookie season, will be at the forefront on Tuesday. 

So will the evaluation of Roseman, who was put back into power after Kelly's ouster during the 2015 season. While at the meetings in Florida last year, Lurie, when asked for an evaluation of the vice president of football operations, said, "At the moment, couldn't be more pleased." 

That was before Roseman was able to put together a package that allowed him to move up to No. 2 and draft Wentz. 

In addition to Roseman, the Eagles have a new player personnel director in Joe Douglas, hired in May. Maybe we'll get some more insight into the inner-workings of the front office from the head honcho. 

Then, there's the issue of off-the-field concerns when drafting or bringing in a player. A month after Lurie spoke at the owners' meetings in 2016, the Eagles drafted a trio of players with what many called "red flags." Jalen Mills and Wendell Smallwood both had previous run-ins with the law and Alex McCalister was guilty of team rules violations while at Florida. With all three, the Eagles thought they found value in getting guys in later rounds because of those question marks. 

Another draft brings another crop of players, each with their own individual stories and pasts. That's how it appears the Eagles like to look at prospects: as individuals. While some teams have complete non-starters -- domestic abuse, for example -- it appears the Eagles choose to evaluate each player based on fact-finding about their specific set of circumstances. 

This year, two of the top running backs in the draft class have "red flags." Dalvin Cook and Joe Mixon have both had run-ins with the law, Mixon's being much more public because of a video that shows him striking a woman and breaking her jaw. 

While the Eagles research prospective players with their own security team and while Roseman and Douglas might want to bring a guy in, it ultimately falls on Lurie. It's his team and what he says goes. 

But Lurie hasn't said much, at least publicly, lately. He did write a piece that railed against political polarization in Time Magazine -- and that'll likely come up on Tuesday -- but aside from that ... nothing. 

Until Tuesday night. After over a year of silence, we'll finally get some answers from the Eagles' owner. 

Brandon Graham stays ready in boxing ring, takes 'important step' for Eagles' 2018 opener

USA Today Images

Brandon Graham stays ready in boxing ring, takes 'important step' for Eagles' 2018 opener

In February, Brandon Graham won a ring. In the six months since he’s gotten in one.

Graham said Monday he’s been doing some sparring as he rehabs from postseason ankle surgery.

Graham, who had a career-high 9½ sacks last year, returned to practice Monday after spending the last three weeks on the Eagles' physically unable to play reserve list (see story).

“Boxing is real good, especially with using my hands,” he said. “I always do that during the offseason. Always focus on my hands, because as a D-lineman that’s our goal, you’ve got to use your hands in everything.

“So while I’ve been hurt I’ve just been trying to work on my coordination and make sure everything stays tight.”

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Graham will be limited for a while here as he works off the rust.

"There are steps he's got to take along the way,” Schwartz said. “This is an important step getting back on to practice with his teammates. Probably be limited to just some individual stuff and we'll sort of work him along. But it is great to have him back.”

Graham won’t play against the Browns Thursday night and almost certainly won’t play against the Jets in the preseason finale a week later.

All he’s got on his mind is the Falcons on Sept. 6.

“All I can say is when I do start hitting people, I’m going to be so sore, but then you’ve got to work through that soreness like we always do and eventually that starts to become your armor and you build on that,” he said.

“I’m excited. Just excited to be back out there with the boys. It’s been hard standing back because you don’t want to feel behind. I don’t feel like I’m behind but they got a lot more reps than I got, so I’m just trying to catch up.

“Everybody knows when it’s time to go it’s going to be time to go. I’m just excited. We’re all excited because it’s the first step.”

Graham, who had the legendary strip-sack of Tom Brady in the closing minutes of the Super Bowl, said his ankle is fine, it’s just a matter of conditioning at this point.

Week 1?

“I’m not going to make any promises, but I’m working my butt off every day,” he said. “Putting money in the bank every day.”

Graham has missed only one game since opening day of 2012, and that was the meaningless season-ender last year against the Cowboys.

Only four defensive ends — Jerry Hughes, Cameron Jordan, Julius Peppers and Ndamukong Suh — have played more games (96, obviously) over the last five seasons.

“I’m really just focused on Week 1 right now and focus on today and how everything goes,” said Graham, now 30.

“I feel like I can get myself ready for Week 1, for sure, because I’m already doing two-a-days and sometimes two-a-days. It’s on me to make sure I continue to get my shape up and that’s just running and doing drills and pushing and pulling on people.

“I think as I continue to feel better, I’m going to continue to go harder. I’m just excited because now I can start counting down the days. I’ve got 17 days to get right.”

More on the Eagles

Tackling new helmet rule a challenge for Jim Schwartz, Eagles

Tackling new helmet rule a challenge for Jim Schwartz, Eagles

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is concerned enough about the NFL's new rule banning tacklers from lowering their head to initiate contact that he held a defensive meeting Monday specifically so his guys could study film of exactly how the league is calling the new rule.

Through two preseason weekends, the Eagles have been cited a league-high five times for personal fouls for lowering the head.

“The instructions we’ve given guys is, try not to lower your head and try to take your head out of it, and I think our guys are trying to do that,” Schwartz said.

“I can confidently say we don’t have any guys that are trying to play outside the bounds. We don’t have any guys that are head hunting, that are being selfish. They’re trying to play within the rules.

“I think you can see Nigel [Bradham’s] play, he’s trying to get his head out. I think even Rodney [McLeod’s] play, he’s trying to get his head across and get it out. The problem is they’re dealing with world-class athletes who are moving targets. A little bit easier said than done. 

“And those fouls have hurt us in those first couple preseason games and we’ve got to get to a point where they don’t hurt us in the regular season.”

Cornerback Sidney Jones was called for a lowering-the-head penalty on Steelers receiver Damoun Patterson in the preseason opener, and tight end Richard Rodgers was also cited in the opener for an illegal hit on Justin Thomas on a punt return.

Last Thursday night, McLeod was called for a hit on running back James White, Bradham was cited for a hit on receiver Julian Edelman and safety Jeremy Reaves was penalized for a hit on running back Mike Gillislee.

“It’s going to be very important work over the next couple weeks, not just learning from our own mistakes but learning from other teams,” Schwartz said.

“There’s some other good feedback. We get clips from the league that show not just penalties that were called but penalties that should have been called. So there is a learning process.”

Eagles veteran defensive end Brandon Graham said it’s going to be tough to eliminate these penalties simply because the game moves so fast, and even if your intention is to use perfect form tackling, it doesn’t always end up that way.

“It’s tough because sometimes the runner’s ducking his head just as much as you’re ducking,” he said. “But they just don’t want to see the crown of your head hitting his crown or hitting his facemask.

“Just really try to keep your eyes up. You’re going to get ran over sometimes. Hey, you’re going to get ran over. But some people do like to use the crown of their head and it’s just to protect them because you don’t want to be paralyzed from hitting someone the wrong way. 

"So I try to keep my face up and hit with my facemask and this will force people to start doing stuff like that.”

One challenge Schwartz noted is getting his guys to play hard, fast and aggressive without thinking about how they’re tackling.

“You want to play fast,” he said. “You want to play confidently on the field. But any time there’s something new, there is going to be an adjustment. 

“It’s a difficult thing. We're trying our best to work through it, but it does add a layer of difficulty to what we're trying to do.”

According to penalty stats on NFLgsis, an official league statistical web site, there have been 48 lowering-the-head penalties called in 32 preseason games or 1½ per game.

Eight of the 32 teams haven’t been cited at all. The Eagles and Titans have been called a league-high five times each.

“It’s real sensitive right now, but as professionals, we’re going to adjust,” Graham said.

“They want to make it an emphasis in preseason, and I’m happy it didn’t cost us a real game. We’ve just got to continue to keep our head out of things and I think we’ll make that adjustment."

More on the Eagles