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OJT Training

Posted: October 24th, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor 

With Nick Sirianni as coach and Jalen Hurts as quarterback, we knew the 2021 Eagles would be a work in progress. This year is as much about learning as winning. Don’t tell that to Nick or Jalen, of course. They are desperate to win. Those of us on the outside know that just as important as winning this year is finding out if the Eagles have the right coach and QB.

So far? Neither guy has helped his case in a significant way. The season opener was great to be sure, but the next five weeks were less than ideal, to put it mildly. Sirianni hasn’t shown himself to be a great game-planner or play-caller. Hurts hasn’t exactly executed the plans (as imperfect as they may be) at a high level.

The Eagles are 2-4 and headed to Las Vegas to take on a flawed Raiders team. The Raiders started 3-0, with a pair of OT wins. Then they lost consecutive games by double digits. Coach Jon Gruden was fired and the team beat Denver last week. So the Raiders are 4-2, but they have some issues.

This is a winnable game for the Eagles, especially with the team coming off extra rest.

The Eagles have had a mini-break after coming off a Thursday game. The players got time to rest. The coaches got time to study the first six weeks, looking for what has gone right and what has gone wrong.

We’ll get some important answers on Sunday as we see how Sirianni handles this game. He’s had time to study his team and the Raiders. He’s had time to sort through data and go in-depth on game film. If he’s smart, Sirianni should have some answers for the team’s offensive struggles.

If the offense struggles again, that will be a bad look for the coaching staff. They’ll have Lane Johnson back at RT. They have healthy skill players. This isn’t the ’99 Rams, but there is enough talent that the team should be able to move the ball and score points.

One game isn’t going to tell us if Sirianni and Hurts are the answer, but both guys need to start showing positive signs.

Hurts has been productive. You can look at some stats and start to think he’s having a good year. That’s not the case.



No one questions whether Hurts can make plays. He absolutely can.

The question is whether he can be a consistently good QB. The Eagles are 19th in yards and 20th in scoring. Not all of that is on him, but you always have to look at the team numbers to see what the whole offense is doing.

Back to Hurts.


Not good.

Part of the problem is how Sirianni and the offensive staff are using him. Hurts is a gifted runner, but he’s a limited passer. He doesn’t have a great arm. He’s not a polished pocket passer. He doesn’t always see the field well and can make some poor decisions.

Think of other QBs who came into the league as gifted runners, but flawed passers. Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott were in run-heavy offenses when they got started. That allowed them to use their running skills and develop as passers. Hurts has thrown 35 or more passes in 4 of 6 starts this year. RB Miles Sanders only has 57 carries on the season. That isn’t a good formula.

Sirianni would argue that more than a few of those pass plays are RPOs or quick screens and not that much different than run plays. There is some truth in that, but it also misses part of the point. You’re keeping constant pressure on Hurts to make reads and decisions. There is something to be said for mixing in the traditional run game. That lets the OL fire off the ball and go hit on defenders. It allows RBs to attack downhill. They don’t have to worry about the mesh point. And the QB can just carry out fakes to keep backside defenders honest.

The NFL is a passing league. No one is asking for the Eagles to jump in a time machine back to the 1980s. But the Eagles are too anti-run game. They are putting a lot on Hurts. That would be fine if he was the kind of talent you wanted carrying an offense. Jalen Hurts is not that guy. He can get better, but right now he needs help, from his coach and his teammates.

Sirianni is trying to find his way as a play-caller. He’s trying to get a feel for his players. He’s also trying to win games. Unfortunately he’s struggling in all of those areas. Will the extra time make a difference?

The only real way for a coach to learn is by coaching. Sirianni had definitive ideas when he took the job, but things change when you are the decision-maker and the play-caller. If he can learn from the mistakes of the first six weeks, Sirianni can help himself and his team.

Sunday will be a big test for him.


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