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Sirianni knows how Eagles can improve red-zone offense


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Sirianni knows how Eagles can improve red-zone offense


The Eagles have one of the best red-zone offenses in the NFL.

Nick Sirianni wants them to be better. Or more specifically, he wants them to be better and different.

The Eagles have had 20 red-zone possessions so far this year and they’ve scored on 18 of them for 90 percent, which is tied for 10th-highest in the league. They’ve scored touchdowns on 13 of those 20 drives for 65 percent, which is 11th-highest in the league. And they’re averaging 5.3 points per red-zone drive, which is 6th-highest.

All very good numbers.

Here’s the thing: The Eagles have been very effective running the ball inside the opposing 20-yard-line but not throwing it.

And Sirianni knows that’s not enough.

"We know that we have the ability to run the ball down there,” he said Wednesday. "But you don't want to be too predictable, either. So you’re looking to marry things. You're looking to mesh things together.”

If you break down the Eagles’ red zone plays by called runs and called passes, here’s what you get:

Jalen Hurts is 8-for-20 for 47 yards and two touchdowns (both at Washington) with no interceptions passing inside the 20, and the Eagles are 44-for-119 rushing with 11 TDs in the red zone.

So 11 of their 13 red-zone touchdowns have come via the running game.

Hurts’ red-zone passer rating of 81.3 ranks 19th out of 28 quarterbacks who’ve thrown at least 10 red-zone passes, and his two TDs rank 26th. His 40 percent completion percentage is 26th.

But you have to balance that with Hurts’ remarkable red-zone production as a runner.

Hurts’ five red-zone rushing TDs are tied with Nick Chubb for most in the league, and his nine red-zone rushing first downs are most – two more than Derrick Henry. 

In terms of overall red-zone production, Hurts has run or thrown for seven touchdowns, and that’s 8th-most among all QBs, behind Patrick Mahomes (14), Josh Allen (10), Lamar Jackson (10), Justin Herbert (9), Trevor Lawrence (8), Jared Goff (8) and Joe Burrow (8). 

So on the one hand the production is there, the scoring is there, the touchdowns are there. But Sirianni’s point is that if the Eagles can establish that they’re just as dangerous throwing when they’re down near the end zone they’ll be even more productive.

"You want to score touchdowns every single time you get down in there,” Sirianni said. "We have a certain goal and I think we are a little short of what our goal is. So you're looking for ways to improve it.”

And the obvious way would be to sharpen up the passing game.

A case in point would be that 3rd-and-goal from the Cards’ 5 Sunday, a throw to Quez Watkins in traffic that could have been a disaster. 

Hurts did throw 13 red-zone touchdowns and one INT last year, so you know it’s there. It’s just a matter of finding the same consistency throwing it as the Eagles currently have running it.

"I thought in the Jacksonville game, we had some opportunities to make some plays there in the pass game just because that was the way it was going, and we missed a couple of those opportunities,” Sirianni said. "Whether it was a coaching thing or whether it was an execution thing, this or that.

"Obviously, we always want to improve there and that's always a focus for us ... how we are going to improve passing the ball in there and using our play-makers down there.”

All the Eagles’ backs are very good down near the goal-line. In addition to Hurts’ five red-zone rushing TDs, Miles Sanders has three, Kenny Gainwell two and Boston Scott one.

Since opening day last year, the Eagles have seven more rushing touchdowns inside the opposing 20 than any other team. Hurts has the 4th-most (behind James Conner, Damien Harris and Jonathan Taylor), Scott is tied for 14th with eight and Gainwell is tied for 21st with seven.

"We run the ball so well in the red zone,” Hurts said. "It’s kind of what we’ve done. We run it really, really efficiently in the red zone.”

They’re really dangerous inside the 20. Sirianni wants them to be more varied, which will make them even more dangerous.


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