Nick Sirianni’s growth and adaptability to find an identity must have Eagles fans excited for what’s to come
Since the Eagles’ Thursday night loss to the Bucs, Nick Sirianni’s improvement in play-calling has re-invigorated a once stale offense. Through the first quarter of the season, many fans rightfully thought this new head coach was in way over his head, from awkward press conferences to the avoidance of running the ball to help out his young quarterback. Well, the Eagles have found their identity as a ground-and-pound, RPO team rather than that spread offense with constant screens that we witnessed for the first six to seven weeks.
Rather than attacking the outside on 1st and 2nd down, Nick Sirianni trusts Jalen Hurts’ reads in RPO sets to gain chunks of yards on early downs. There are several occasions over the past two weeks where Jalen has made the wrong read, resulting in a loss of yards or no gain.
Those negative outcomes come with the territory of running RPO action, and the Eagles still rank number one in yards per game over the last three weeks with 208.7 rushing yards. The Patriots are second during that span, averaging nearly 50 yards less than the Birds.
One of the most exciting aspects of watching the Eagles this season is seeing Jalen Hurts create plays from nothing and using his legs to get 10+ yards on a clean RPO read. The adage is true: an effective running game tremendously helps the development of a young quarterback. Besides his one interception, Hurts played the best game of his season.
Thanks to the threat of our rushing attack, receivers could get open one-on-one downfield and gave Hurts some easy reads over the middle of the field. The Eagles’ QB1 finally trusted his protection in the pocket without scrambling too early and threw some beautiful balls downfield, one of which should have been his third passing TD of the game.
With Miles Sanders set to return, it’s going to be interesting to see how the Eagles rotate this backfield down the stretch. Right now, Jordan Howard is playing way too well to be taken out of the rotation. He looks like the 2017 version of himself where he rushed for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns. The sixth-year veteran is running with something to prove, breaking tackles, and getting those dirty yards that help any offense.
It took six weeks of confusion, questioning every move the Eagles have made, and occasional hostility towards Nick Sirianni, but it seems the new head coach is figuring things out. At the beginning of the season, this team had no identity other than an average screen game and no rushing attack. Now, they have become one of the dominant run forces in the NFL as Coach Sirianni adapted his game style to what fits his player’s strengths.
Having the offensive line sprint out to block linebackers and defensive backs on screen plays? Not necessarily a strength of this team, or any NFL team for that matter. Putting your All-Bully offensive line in a position to win the trenches early and set up Jalen Hurts for success connecting with his PIC, DeVonta Smith? That’s something I can get behind.
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Eagles