Since you guys enjoyed my deep dive into what the Eagles defense may look like under this new coaching staff, I figured I’d switch sides and focus on the offense here. Head coach Nick Sirianni, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson have their work cut out for them this season.
How can this offense be productive with a young QB running the show?
Whether it’s Jalen Hurts or someone they take with the No. 6 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, the Eagles will have an inexperienced signal caller under center in 2021. And according to Sirianni, he believes the staff he’s put in place is well equipped to handle a young quarterback.
In an interview with the Eagles’ web site, Sirianni dove into his hiring process and why both Steichen and Johnson will be great for their quarterbacks room. “He just has a unique way to be able to make things simple for the quarterback,” Sirianni said of Steichen. “And we saw that last year with Justin Herbert. How he was able to take a young quarterback who’s never played a snap in the NFL and turn him into the rookie of the year. He makes the game simple for him.”
In that same interview, Sirianni also praised Brian Johnson, one of the few coaches he hired that he didn’t have previous ties to. “You saw what he did with that offense at Florida, super impressive. What he did with that quarterback at Florida, super impressive. So excited to have Brian. He brings so many good ideas, he brings an element of the college game that not all of us have. Again, couldn’t be more thrilled to have Brian on this staff.”
It really seems like the Eagles are trying to re-create the success they found early on during the Doug Pederson era. They’re going to roll with a young quarterback and they’ve attempted to put a stable support system around him on the coaching staff.
The reason it deteriorated so quickly in Pederson’s case was because the team had so much success that the assistant coaches were all offered job promotions elsewhere. Frank Reich left to become the head coach in Indianapolis, and John DeFilippo left to become Minnesota’s offensive coordinator.
Pederson was never able to replace any of the coaches he lost, and it eventually led to his own firing. If Sirianni is going to have a long and fruitful tenure in Philly, being able to replace assistants he may lose will be pivotal.
How will Sirianni’s offense differ from Pederson’s?
Like I said above, one of the goals in hiring Sirianni was to try and re-create some of the success found in the early years of the Pederson era.
Sirianni has worked under Frank Reich for essentially his entire coaching career in the NFL. He’s going to implement a lot of familiar concepts in Philly, like the RPO and emphasizing a balanced attack — two staples of Pederson’s and Reich’s offense from 2016 to 2017.
In theory, Sirianni’s offense should look a lot like the 2017 Eagles. With the constant evolution of the offensive game, there will be some slight differences. But the philosophies of the offense will be the same — create matchup problems with tight ends and running backs in the passing game while putting your quarterback in positions that he’s comfortable in.
That last part is something that got lost when Reich left after the 2017 season, along with the balanced attack that I mentioned earlier. When you’re dealing with a young quarterback, those two aspects may be the most important to emphasize in your offense. Especially with a quarterback like Hurts, who is a bit raw in his talent but still possesses solid physical ability.
While I sit here and try to project what Sirianni’s offense will look like based off his history, it’s impossible to predict with 100% accuracy. Due in large part to the fact that Sirianni has never actually called plays as an offensive coordinator.
That’s certainly a little concerning, but there’s more to being a good offensive minded coach than just calling plays. The preparation and installation of a game plan each week, something that Sirianni has plenty of experience with under Reich, shouldn’t be overlooked. Not to mention some of the intangible factors, something fans may scoff at but it truly makes a difference.
Pederson never lacked in that department, but getting a new voice in there who’s younger and probably more relatable can’t hurt. I know it’s easy to dismiss Sirianni’s intangible qualities after seeing his introductory presser — it wasn’t good, I get it.
But check out this clip of him speaking with his offense in Indianapolis. Seems like everyone in that room is focused in to me.
At the end of the day, the Sirianni offense won’t be much different than the Pederson offense. The execution and certain play designs may differ, but the core principals of the offense will be the same. This isn’t going from Andy Reid to Chip Kelly — this is going from one west coast system to another, with maybe a few wrinkles here and there.
We just have to hope Sirianni’s tendencies in play calling fall more in line with his mentor, Frank Reich, as opposed to Pederson. Which would make sense, Sirianni has learned a lot about the game from Reich.
Sirianni has a lot of potential as a head coach, we’ll just have to see if he seizes the opportunity he’s been given.