The game of football is a complex sport.
In the NFL, it’s an endless battle of strategic thinking, scheming, positioning, understanding of technique, and adapting all with the goal of lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
With so many moving parts from year to year in terms of coaching and roster upheaval, it’s difficult to have sustained success. Maintaining success and being competitive on a year-in and year-out basis is a quandary that has plagued NFL franchises seemingly since the inception of the league.
Every team tries to discover the formula and most fail. Dynasties are a rarity.
The preeminent symbol of sustained success in the NFL (up until recently) has been the New England Patriots.
New England was able to appear in nine conference titles, rack up 17 division championships, and win six Super Bowls by maintaining continuity . The trio of Tom Brady, Josh McDaniels, and Bill Belichick were mainstays in New England from 2004 – 2019.
For the Philadelphia Eagles, this is the first time in a long time they’ll be able to experience any semblance of continuity. For the first time in 17 years, the Eagles had no changes on their coaching staff during the offseason.
The downfall of the Doug Pederson era in Philadephia can be traced back to the coaching side of the ball. Frank Reich left for Indianapolis after two seasons. John Defilippo left for Minnesota after three years and things seemingly spiraled after that.
But heading into 2022, there are no unknowns amongst the Eagles staff. The staff is well versed with each other. Every staff member has an idea of how the other wants to go about the task. They don’t have to learn or adjust to different ways of communicating or teaching.
Simply put, there will be no honeymoon period.
“My vision here is to be able to keep the staff intact, win games obviously,” said Sirianni. “Guys will obviously get promoted from that, and then be able to have a good young group of nucleus guys that are in support roles to be able to promote.” Nick Sirianni
That same mindset translates over onto the field as well.
For the first time in his collegiate or professional football career, Jalen Hurts will have the same head coach / offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach trio that he worked with in the previous season.
|2016 Alabama||Nick Saban||Lane Kiffin||Lane Kiffin|
|2017 Alabama||Nick Saban||Brian Daboll||Brian Daboll|
|2018 Alabama||Nick Saban||Mike Locksley||Dan Enos|
|2019 Oklahoma||Lincoln Riley||Cale Gundy & Bill Bedenbaugh||Lincoln Riley|
|2020 Eagles||Doug Pederson||N/A||Press Taylor|
|2021 Eagles||Nick Sirianni||Shane Steichen||Brian Johnson|
|2022 Eagles||Nick Sirianni||Shane Steichen||Brian Johnson|
For the first time since high school, where Hurts played under his father, he’ll have the same voice inside his headset on Sundays.
The thing that’s interesting about Hurts is, no matter the changes in staff or play-caller, he’s always seemed to get better from year to year.
|2016 – Alabama||62.8% (240 – 382)||23||9||14-1|
|2017 – Alabama||60.4% (154 – 255)||17||1||13-1|
|2019 – Oklahoma||69.7 (237 – 340)||32||8||12-2|
|2020 – Eagles||52% (77 – 148)||6||4||1-3|
|2021 – Eagles||61.3% (265 – 432)||16||9||9-8|
“It’s a feeling I never felt before. The last time I had the same play-caller was my dad back in high school, so it’s all exciting. I think it’s an exciting time to be an Eagles fan and to be an Eagle. The only direction is to climb, and the only direction is to rise up. I think that’s the expectation for us, plain and simple." Jalen Hurts
Continuity is a determining factor in the development of any position, but especially at quarterback.
The mental side of the game is often overlooked. Having the ability to watch film and knowing how your coach or quarterback is interpreting it, is critical. Already having your feet under you as a quarterback within the offense and having a baseline understanding of the principles of the coaches around you, from philosophies to passing concepts, and being able to build off that in his second year as starting quarterback will be huge for Jalen Hurts.
Being able to consistently hear the same voice and same messaging is critical to the success of a quarterback.
For example, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen had an up-and-down rookie year and second season. Allen threw 30 touchdowns and 21 interceptions while completing 55.8% of his passes over his first two seasons. Allen also led Buffalo to a 15-12 record over his first two seasons.
Buffalo maintained continuity by keeping the same voice in Allen’s ear with former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, who eventually helped Allen transform his game into the upper echelon quarterback he is today.
The Eagles’ offensive staff know Hurts as both a person and a player. They understand his strengths and weaknesses, they understand his tendencies as a passer, and they know the types of reads, protections, and concepts he likes when and where in any given game.
The flow of communication will be much smoother than if Hurts were entering another situation with a new staff member.
The players around Hurts will also be much of the same. Besides G Nate Herbig, every offensive player is returning. Outside of WR A.J. Brown, every player on offense has taken a snap with Hurts at the helm.
Throughout his career, we’ve seen Jalen Hurts develop and progress year after year almost in spite of the changes that occurred around him. But, as training camp gets underway this week, the pieces are there for Hurts to rise and progress farther than he has at any point in his career to date.
Cover Image Credit: Bill Streicher