The thread that ties Jeff Lurie, Howie Roseman, Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts together

The thread that ties Lurie, Roseman, Sirianni and Hurts together originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Howie Roseman’s first five years as GM netted the Eagles Fireman Danny, Marcus Smith and Jaiquawn Jarrett and zero playoff wins. Then he got demoted.

Jeff Lurie’s first six years as owner netted the Eagles one playoff win, a 41-54-1 record and three head coaches.

Nick Sirianni’s first seven weeks as Eagles head coach netted the Eagles a 2-5 record and a pep talk comparing the Eagles’ unseen improvement to plant roots growing underground that made him the laughingstock of Philly.

Jalen Hurts’ rookie year netted him a 52 percent completion percentage, worst in the NFL among quarterbacks who threw at least 100 passes, and a 77.6 passer rating that put him somewhere below Nick Mullens, Mike Glennon and Brandon Allen.

And here we are.

The Eagles are one of a very few elite NFL franchises, defending NFC champs, one of just seven teams to reach the playoffs in each of the last two years, a play or two from winning their second Super Bowl in six years, the only NFC team to reach the postseason five of the last six seasons.

And they’re not going away.

And the amazing thing is that the four most important people in the Eagles’ organization were all viewed to some extent as failures when they first got here.

Lurie was an outsider from Boston who was blasted for the crime of being born into the Harcourt General fortune. Remember?

Roseman wasn’t a football guy. He was a draftnick, a football hobbyist, an accountant who never played a down in his life. Remember?

Sirianni was in over his head. A small-time coach with his High School Harry speeches and all that nonsense about connecting and competing and core values. Remember?

And Hurts … he was a running back who couldn’t throw, wasn’t accurate enough, wasn’t tall enough, didn’t have the essentials to be a successful NFL quarterback. Remember?

There’s a common thread that winds its way through this organization. People who were questioned, who were doubted, who were mocked either over a period of weeks or months or years but ultimately proved themselves to be among the best at what they do.

Now, this isn’t to say some of the criticisms weren’t valid. Roseman was not a very good general manager the first time around, but it didn’t take long for him to put the lessons he learned during his year in exile to use and turn a franchise in shambles into a Super Bowl champion.

Lurie meddled too much in personnel early on, and it’s OK to be involved — he is the owner — but he did overdo it at first.

Sirianni? He wasn’t tearing it up as a play caller those first couple months, but he turned things over to Shane Steichen, who turned out to be a play-calling genius.

And Hurts? All he’s done since getting here is improve. At everything. The kid went from lowest completion percentage in the league to a historic Super Bowl performance in two years.

There’s something to be said for patience. There’s something to be said for allowing people — owners, players, coaches, GMs — to find their way. To figure it out.

Now, it doesn’t always work. Patience and time aren’t always enough. And sometimes they’re misplaced. But Lurie has created a culture here where everybody gets a fair chance to learn and grow and blossom and become a star, whether it’s on the field or off.

Not everybody gets it on Day 1. Brian Dawkins and Jason Kelce didn’t make their first Pro Bowls until their fourth seasons, Brandon Brooks till his sixth season, Malcolm Jenkins till his seventh season, Darren Sproles till his 10th season. Brandon Graham wasn’t even a starter until his sixth year in the league and didn’t make a Pro Bowl until he was 32.

But if you were really looking, you saw very early on that Lurie had very good ideas about how to build a franchise. By 1996 — his second full year as owner — the wheels were in motion to get the Eagles out of dilapidated Veterans Stadium and build the NovaCare Complex and the Linc as well.

With Roseman, I had my doubts the first time around. We all did. And nobody was really sure how the year in exile would affect him, but within a few months of regaining the GM title, he unloaded Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso and DeMarco Murray for picks, signed Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz, Fletcher Cox and Brooks to long-term deals, moved up to No. 2 to draft Carson Wentz, hired Joe Dougals and then traded Sam Bradford. The wheels were in motion.

And while the city was laughing at Sirianni’s underground roots metaphor, his players weren’t laughing at all. They believed if they kept putting in the work, the rest of the world would see what kind of team they really were. The Eagles then went 7-2 and made the playoffs. They’re 21-5 in regular-season games since that speech and 20-2 with Hurts on the field.

And Hurts, if you couldn’t see his vast potential when he was running around making plays, throwing to Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward and Jalen Reagor for a lost 2020 Eagles team, I just have no idea what you were looking at. Even as the season was falling to pieces, Hurts had the seventh-highest yards per completion in the league, became the first Eagles rookie with back-to-back 330-yard games and averaged 362 scrimmage yards in the three games he started and finished.

If there’s a chip on this franchise’s proverbial shoulder, it’s because so many of its key figures were written off before they had a chance to prove themselves.

Lurie believed in Howie. Howie believed in Nick. Nick believed in Jalen. And a franchise that didn’t have a whole lot to believe in for a long time is now positioned for years of success.

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