With Nick Sirianni now at the helm of the Philadelphia Eagles offense, things will look a bit different than they did under Doug Pederson.
While both offenses are technically west coast schemes, Sirianni will bring some fresh ideas to the table that Pederson often overlooked. First and foremost, the running game will likely be a point of emphasis under Sirianni. A balanced offensive attack is an obvious key to success for any team, and the entire offense should benefit from it.
Secondly, Sirianni has talked frequently about the importance of putting his players in positions that best suit their respective skill sets. Whether that’s shifting the receivers around in certain formations, or calling plays that will make things a bit easier for his quarterback, Sirianni seems to recognize how imperative it is to put his players in favorable situations. Pederson, for all the great things he did during his time with the team, rarely seemed to know what his players’ strengths and weaknesses were.
With all that being said, there are a handful of offensive players that should benefit greatly from this change in coaching philosophy.
Here are the three Eagles who will benefit the most from this changing of the guard.
Like I stated above, the rushing attack will be a focal point of Sirianni’s offense. In 2020, when Sirianni was the Colts offensive coordinator, Indy ran the ball about 45 percent of the time, whereas the Eagles only ran it 40 percent of the time.
That run/pass discrepancy for the Eagles gotten even more lopsided in the second half of games. For just a quick glimpse, take Jalen Hurts’ three games where he started and finished as an example — Saints, Cardinals, and Cowboys. In the first half, Pederson had a 58-42 run/pass ratio, right around league average. In the second half of those contests, Pederson called 82 passes to just 18 runs, which adds up to 100 total plays. Pederson called runs on 18 percent of his calls in the second half of those games, which is just unacceptable, especially considering those games were within striking distance for the most part.
This just won’t happen under Sirianni (at least I hope it doesn’t). And the obvious beneficiary of this will be Miles Sanders.
Sanders is one of the most explosive backs in the league, despite his usage being severely low. Since 2019, he’s tied for the most 50+ yard runs of any running back in the NFL.
Just look at those attempt totals. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to conclude Sanders was underutilized in Pederson’s offense. Sanders posted a yards per carry average of 5.3 last season, ranking him fifth among running backs with at least 130 carries. He ranked 21st in rushing attempts with just 164.
I wouldn’t expect Sanders to eclipse 200 rushing attempts — he’s not the type of back you want rushing the ball that many times — but I would expect it to go up to around 180-185.
With the plethora of backs in the Eagles backfield, Sanders should be relied on the most in their rushing attack. If the offensive line can stay healthy for the majority of the season and Sirianni does stick to his guns with the running game, Sanders is a clear candidate to breakout in 2021.
Jalen Reagor disappointed during his rookie campaign. In 11 starts, he totaled 31 receptions for 396 yards and just one touchdown. With numerous injuries, terrible quarterback play, and inconsistent play calling, it would have been hard for any rookie wideout to succeed in the Eagles offense last season.
This year, however, things should be much easier for Reagor. Not only will the pressure be off him a bit with the addition of DeVonta Smith, but Sirianni will move Reagor all over the formation and use him in a multitude of ways.
For starters, we know Reagor will get some time in the slot this year. I wouldn’t say that’s his natural position, because he played mostly on the outside at TCU, but it should allow him to operate a bit more freely. He won’t get routinely pressed on the line of scrimmage, giving him more free releases to get deep down the field, or open on quick slants/drags.
I’d imagine Sirianni will also look to get the ball in Reagor’s hands any way he can. Whether that’s on quick screens, jet sweeps, or even having Reagor line up in the backfield on some plays, giving a playmaker the opportunity to make plays is what Sirianni does best.
Reagor is a popular breakout candidate among Eagles fans. Most fans will point to the Smith draft pick as the main reason why, but Sirianni will more than likely play a bigger role in Reagor’s bounce back sophomore campaign.
Like Reagor, Dallas Goedert is an obvious breakout candidate for 2021. With the Zach Ertz departure on the horizon, Goedert will be the clear cut TE1 in Sirianni’s offense.
Playing behind Ertz for three years, Goedert was still a key contributor on the field. He’s the only tight end in the NFL to record at least an 80 receiving and blocking grade since 2018, according to Pro Football Focus. And we know Sirianni will look to utilize his tight ends as much as possible.
In Indianapolis last season, the Colts tight ends were targeted 120 times. They did spread the ball around their tight end group, but that’s mostly because they didn’t have a tight end of Goedert’s caliber. In the Eagles’ case, they don’t have any proven talent behind Goedert in their tight end room. Meaning the vast majority of tight end targets will go to the former second round pick.
I expect Goedert to be used all over the formation this year. As one of the few big bodied receiver on the team, the majority of red zone targets should go his way, along with routes going across the face of the defense.
With Goedert now cemented as the TE1, he should take off in 2021 and prove that he’s a top-tier tight end in football.
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