Next OC's Job? Return Hurts To MVP Form
Thirty minutes behind schedule of the team’s end-of-season press conference, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni and personnel chief Howie Roseman eventually arrived in the auditorium of the NovaCare Complex before beginning their descent toward the podium.
The next 35 minutes would command the undivided attention of those across the Delaware Valley, hanging on their every word.
The sea of media members in attendance must have resembled shark-infested waters for two of the organization’s primary figureheads.
It had been nine days since Sirianni last spoke publicly and five months for Roseman, the team’s executive vice president of football operations.
Topics pertinent to the Eagles’ inexplicable late-season collapse were in need of addressing, most importantly the state of the Eagles’ declining offense and the rescue plan for regressing quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Sirianni first navigated the circumstances surrounding the removal of incumbent offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, who helmed a turbulent offense that fell short of expectations.
Though Sirianni last month adamantly claimed his ownership of the offense in defense of the criticism Johnson faced as play-caller, he cited on Wednesday the need to usher in fresh ideas and differing schools of thought.
Perhaps more concerning was the regression of franchise quarterback Jalen Hurts, who failed to fulfill MVP expectations playing within the confines of a static offense.
Nine days removed from a 32-9 NFC Wild Card round loss to the Tampa Buccaneers and unfathomable 1-6 finish, Sirianni reversed course from as recently as last month, when he referred to the Eagles’ offense as “my offense.”
“This will be our offense,” Sirianni said Wednesday, raising questions about whether this decision was his or forced upon him from up top. “This will be the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense, not whoever, name the coordinator’s offense or my name on it or whoever, [Passing Game Coordinator/Associate Head Coach] Kevin Patullo. This will be our offense.
“Really look forward to really evolving the offense and some things that I believe that by the end of the year got stale, and we saw the way how that ended. Statistically, we finished positive in a lot of different things, but obviously with the 1-6 finish, there were things that got stale.
“I really see the beauty of what can happen with bringing in this new coordinator and where our offense can go because of it.”
Terming the 2023 offense – architected in Sirianni’s vision, called by Johnson – as “stale” and conveying the importance of bringing in new ideas from the outside, while also distancing the scheme from anyone associated with the current family of coaches, Sirianni expressed a need to evolve.
The expected transformation would qualify as par for the course for an organization prone to continuous progression.
The Eagles have already started interviewing potential offensive coordinators of various ages, pedigrees and resumes, including Jim Bob Cooter, Kliff Kingsbury and Jerrod Johnson, with more expected to trickle in as the team will likely cast a wide net.
No question, Sirianni said, that the next offensive coordinator will be tasked with getting Hurts back to the MVP form he showcased in 2023.
“He’s bringing in a scheme to be able to run, to be able for us to function in, and that scheme has to be something that our players can function and our quarterback is going to excel at,” Sirianni said. “I’m looking forward to whoever that is to come in and do those things.
“And you want there to be comfort with Jalen and whoever is this new coordinator … I’ll keep him aware of things that he needs to be aware of and keep him in the loop of that because he’s our guy, and it’s really important that those two guys are going to work hand in hand to make sure we’re getting back to where we need to be.”
Given the way the season ended and with the expected staff retooling, Sirianni could be viewed as on the clock.
At the risk of avoiding hyperbole, his coordinator hires may well hold his fate in their hands.
The offensive coordinator vacancy is an especially delicate situation. The succession of coaches presiding over Hurts over the years hasn’t been a pillar of stability and functionality.
The next coordinator will presumably be hired with continuity in mind. The coordinator will be Hurts’ fourth in five NFL seasons.
When Hurts is operating in a system that best accentuates his skill set, the Eagles are unequivocally tough to stop.
Sirianni is of the belief that he has the answers to return both Hurts and the Eagles to prominence. He reminded onlookers that Hurts was an MVP candidate for the season’s first 11 games.
“In fact, there were games – like even though we were in a bad stretch as a team – I thought Jalen was playing really good football. But I get it. Me as the head coach, Jalen as the quarterback, we’re going to draw the most scrutiny and the most attention and eyes, and we understand that in the seats that we sit in.
“But I know that the things that Jalen needs to work on and the things that we’ll sit down together and talk about, no doubt in my mind that he’s going to bust his ass to do that because that’s who he is.
“That’s why he continues to develop in things that people thought was a negative for him in the past that he’s made into a strength.
“I have no doubt about the person doing that because I’ve seen him do it. I’ve seen him do it over and over again, and I look forward to him doing it with this off-season with all the things that we talk about for all of us to improve on.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.