The Eagles don’t officially have a new offensive coordinator yet, but whoever winds up in the position will be calling plays in 2023.
Nick Sirianni said that even with play caller Shane Steichen leaving to become head coach of the Colts, he has no plans to resume calling offensive plays next year.
Quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson, who was coached by Jalen Hurts’ father in high school, is expected to replace Steichen as offensive coordinator, although the Eagles haven’t made it official yet.
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Sirianni handed play calling duties to Steichen two months into the 2021 season. Although nobody is quite sure which week the changeover happened, the Eagles finished the season 7-2 in their last nine meaningful games to reach the playoffs.
This year, the Eagles had the No. 3 offense in the NFL, went 14-3 and then averaged 35 points in three postseason games.
So the Eagles are something like 21-5 since Sirianni handed over play calling to Steichen.
Although this is still his offense, his scheme and his gameplan, Sirianni likes the freedom he has when he doesn’t have to worry about down-to-down play calling.
“It does help me manage the game better in my opinion,” he said. “It helps me interact with the players more on the sideline. And it helps me be able to discuss something with somebody upstairs to get on the defensive headset when the offense is up or vice versa. Yes, that will be my intent, to let the next offensive coordinator call the game.”
Although Johnson’s promotion isn’t official, there’s no way Sirianni would announce that he's not calling plays in 2023 if he didn’t already have a successor to Steichen selected.
The Eagles generally wait until all coaching vacancies are filled before officially announcing any of them.
Johnson was the play caller in his two years as offensive coordinator at Utah in 2012 and 2013 and also called plays as offensive coordinator at Houston in 2017. Utah averaged 27 and 29 points in his two years in Salt Lake City, and Houston averaged 28 points per game in 2017.
Johnson had a hand in calling plays when he was Florida’s offensive coordinator in 2020, although head coach Dan Mullen was the primary play caller. The Gators averaged 40 points per game that year, leading to Sirianni hiring Johnson.
Certainly Johnson’s relationship with Hurts makes him an ideal fit as the Eagles’ play caller. When Johnson was playing quarterback for Hurts’ dad at Baytown Lee High outside Houston, Hurts was a youngster falling in love with the game of football and watching everything Johnson did.
And Sirianni loves being untethered to the rigors of calling plays and being able to serve as the game-day CEO of the entire team.
“I feel like we’ve seen benefits from that,” Sirianni said. “I just feel like my ability to manage the game, I feel like I do a better job managing the game when I don’t have the (play calling).
“Some guys do it and they do a great job of it and I’m highly impressed by that. For me, what works is this and I’ll continue doing it that way. That’s the plan.”