McMullen: Jeffrey Lurie Has to Scale Back an Overbearing Management Style

The Eagles owner has turned meddling into a way of life at the NovaCare Complex
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PHILADELPHIA - In hindsight, Chip Kelly may have broken Jeffrey Lurie.

If you doubt that thesis, reporting from The Athletic's Sheil Kapadia, Zach Berman, and Bo Wulf, which described the dysfunction inside the NovaCare Complex that turned the "new normal" of a Super Bowl LII championship in the Doug Pederson era into four wins, the exile of the head coach, and the trade of the face of the franchise all inside of three calendar years, might shift your thinking.

The hubris of the Eagles' owner was on full display over the past five years when a somewhat understandable tight leash for what was a first-time head coach back in 2016 somehow turned into a choke chain by 2018 despite Pederson winning the Lombardi Trophy.

That seems, to use one of Lurie's favorite buzzwords - counterintuitive.

In a healthy relationship that success would have earned Pederson the benefit of the doubt or, at the bare minimum, more autonomy for what supposed to be his football program.

In the wake of being burned by Kelly, however, it earned little more than the parking spot closest to the side door of the NovaCare Complex.

Inside the building, Pederson was second-guessed at every turn with weekly meetings seemingly designed to turn the head coach into a joystick of the analytics department.

“(Pederson) was ridiculed and criticized for every decision,” a source told The Athletic. “If you won by three, it wasn’t enough. If you lost on a last-second field goal, you’re the worst coach in history.”

For the modern generation of Philadelphia sports fans, Lurie is Harold Katz, the Nutrisystem founder turned Sixers owner who fashioned himself a basketball expert because he loved watching college games on his satellite dish.

Lurie is a self-important draftnik with financial heft but the $3 billion in his bank does not make him qualified to put the thumb on the scale for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside nor the expertise to know whether or not position coaches are getting the job done.

He's created an organization that is supposed to be based on collaboration but instead is pitting the analytics guys vs. the scouting staff in a steel-cage match that could have headlined Wrestlemania over the weekend.

For most of the Eagles' fan base, blame for a 4-11-1 disaster of a 2020 season should have been doled out in a circular firing squad between Howie Roseman, Pederson, and deposed quarterback Carson Wentz.

The fact that the unpopular Roseman is the lone survivor makes him the easy mark for ridicule but the real culprit in going from zero to dysfunction in record time is Lurie.

Once incorrectly labeled as a tempered hand, Lurie is every bit the micromanager that Jerry Jones is in Dallas, albeit with the volume turned down.

The owner's approach has created the disconnect that was once Kelly and Tom Gamble vs. Roseman before the GM and Alec Halaby vs. the coaching and scouting side.

Expecting Nick Sirianni and his staff to accept flawed football critiques from those who aren't smart enough to know what they don't know will also come with a shelf life.

Scapegoating has become Lurie's favorite tool to quell dissent, from Mike Groh and Carson Walch to Pederson and most of his last coaching staff.

Even before the 2017 season, Lurie wanted Frank Reich gone and at least did his due diligence when it came to Jim Schwartz being the heir apparent for a potential coaching change in the Eagles' Super Bowl season.

You read that right. The smartest guy in the room had no idea Super Bowl LII glory was in reach yet also has no problem assuming he was responsible for it.

“The fact that Doug had the success he did with all the shit going on in the building, sometimes I look at our Super Bowl rings, and I’m like, ‘Holy cow, I don’t know how we did it,'” a source told The Athletic.

Lurie is a Hollywood producer in name only these days and maybe the best thing that could happen to the Eagles is for the owner to find a passion project that takes him away from South Philadelphia.

From there, cross your fingers and hope for sequels. Absent that, expect more of the same.

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.