As Nick Sirianni fielded a question about Jalen Hurts’ decision-making after the Eagles’ 40-33 win over the Packers on Sunday night, the head coach began to explain another important element in Hurts’ growth.
Hurts now knows what he wants. He knows what will work.
And the Eagles listen to him.
“He's got great ideas coming off the sideline saying, ‘Hey, I think we can get to this I think we can get to that.’ When he does that, we really trust him,” Sirianni said on Sunday night. “We really trust him, because he's seeing it really well.
“So, I just think that's the next step he's taking. He is being able to tell us on the field what he's seeing, what he likes, and go out and execute and us trusting him, because he's got a lot of money in the bank with us, right, of like, hey, every time he comes out and tells us that he makes it work when he does it.
"I think that's a big part of the decision making and the big next step of the decision making.”
Between every series, the offensive decision-makers get together on the sideline, look at the images from the previous drive on their tablets and begin to formulate or tweak their plan for the upcoming series and the rest of the game.
That’s pretty normal. All 32 teams do that.
The important thing to note here is that Hurts is increasingly more vocal in those sideline meetings and that’s probably for a few reasons. The most obvious is that in his second year in Sirianni’s offense and his second year under play caller Shane Steichen, Hurts has found a new level of comfort. He knows the offense inside and out and knows what he likes.
But the other side of this is that Hurts is just seeing everything so much more clearly now. It’s part of the reason his play has taken such a huge jump in Year 2, but that clarity also allows him to be more involved in the decision-making process.
The Eagles trust Hurts whenever he brings a suggestion to them.
“It's been great,” Steichen said. “Any time you're playing at a high level like he's doing right now and he's seeing things really well on the field. All those guys, the receivers, Jalen. I mean, when they see something that we can take advantage of because they're the ones out there doing it, obviously we want to take those into consideration every time and then we go from there.”
As Hurts and the offense come off the field after a drive, the process remains the same. Steichen and the coaches look through their Microsoft Surface tablets and start getting their thoughts together. Hurts will chat with quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson and then they all get together.
The offensive braintrust goes over any possible fixes to mistakes and then they discuss what the next situational calls will be. They’ll go over the drive starters. And then they’ll talk about will that next series look like in terms of the run game, pass game, screens and protections.
It’s a lot to cram into a short window but it’s been working. The Eagles have a top-five offense for a reason.
“We'll go over and [Hurst is] like, hey, this looks good here. We can get to this, this would be awesome,” Steichen said. “Obviously, if I see it on the surface as well I'm like heck yeah, let's do it. So he's doing a nice job with that.”
Hurts, 24, is now 11 games into what could end up being an MVP season. He has completed 67.3% of his passes for 2,560 yards with 17 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. And he has also rushed for 597 yards with 8 more scores.
What’s even more impressive about Hurts’ performance this season is that he’s doing whatever the Eagles from him to win. If he has to throw for 340 yards to win like he did against the Vikings, fine. If he has to run for 157 like he did against the Packers on Sunday, that works too.
Hurts simply wants to run whatever gets the best results. And with his experience and his level of play, he’s been a big part in deciding what that looks like.
“Jalen brings good insight to that conversation of, hey, I'm seeing this and we could get to that. What do you guys think here?’” Sirianni said.
“So, it's just kind of part of our process that we go through, and the only difference I guess is how much more Jalen is involved because of how well he's seeing the game. So that's kind of normal process for us, Jalen being involved more because he's getting more and more comfortable and he's seeing the field really well and he's got great thoughts and ideas that have led to good plays.”
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