HomeDa Birds NewsJalen Hurts and Coach Nick Sirianni Are Reportedly Not Aligned

Jalen Hurts and Coach Nick Sirianni Are Reportedly Not Aligned

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In the hours before the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what should be a winnable Wild Card playoff game, multiple beat writers have published deep dives into the team’s second-half collapse, with all parties involved seemingly trying to get their side of the story out in the event that the team suffers a season-ending loss Monday.

One of those stories was an excellent piece by ESPN’s Tim McManus, which delved into why coach Nick Sirianni has been unable to stop the bleeding in a stretch where the Eagles have lost five of six games, and posted a -59 point differential. It also paints a picture of the three most important figures in the offense — Sirianni, offensive coordinator Brian Johnson and quarterback Jalen Hurts — not all being on the same page.

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“In the early stages of the Eagles’ skid, Hurts was hoping the direction of the offense would change, the source familiar with Hurts’ thinking said,” McManus wrote. “He believed they were overly reliant on vertical routes and not utilizing short-to-intermediate throws, particularly over the middle of the field, where [A.J.] Brown has thrived in his career. In short, the belief was there was too much flash over substance — a sentiment others on the offensive side of the ball shared.”

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For much of the second half of the season in Philadelphia, Johnson — who was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator when Shane Steichen left to become coach of the Indianapolis Colts — has drawn the ire of Eagles fans. Uncreative screen passes and a perceived over reliance on quarterback draws have come to draw eye rolls from Eagles fans.

That’s made it hard for some of those same fans to process that Johnson, seemingly on the hot seat in his current role, is still garnering interest from teams with coaching vacancies. Both the Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers have submitted interview requests for Johnson. Granted, neither of those jobs, particularly the Panthers, seems especially attractive. But as the saying goes, there’s only 32 coaching jobs. And two teams with vacancies want to speak to Johnson.

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It’s not impossible to be a better coach than coordinator. Maybe there is a belief Johnson fits that mold. But teams tend to pick coaches who they think will be elite play callers, among other responsibilities, on at least one side of the ball. So if Johnson is still of interest to teams with vacancies, perhaps the perception around the sport is he’s less to blame than Sirianni for a situation that’s deteriorated in recent weeks.

Indeed, McManus’ article casts some level of doubt over exactly how much Johnson has been able to put his stamp on the offense this season, writing “a source described Johnson as having to fit his own philosophy within an offensive structure belonging to Sirianni.”

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The problem is, Sirianni doesn’t have a lengthy history as being one of the league’s top offensive minds. This isn’t Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay delegating their offense to a coordinator, while still interjecting at times. Sirianni didn’t call plays in three years as an offensive coordinator for the Colts because coach Frank Reich did. And it wasn’t until Sirianni delegated play calling to Steichen in 2021 that the Eagles offense — and Hurts’ career — really took off. The problem with that is eventually Steichen was going to be poached as a coach himself. And there’s no guarantee that the next rock you turn over will yield results as impressive, or that there will be as much trust between all the parties involved.

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In any event, what’s taken place since a 10-1 start for the Eagles feels unsustainable. Either the Eagles will catch fire in the playoffs and erase this storyline, or the futures of Sirianni and/or Johnson will be the No. 1 talking point of an offseason that could start as soon as Tuesday.

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