Andy Reid used to say it took a quarterback at least three years before he really had a deep understanding of the offense he was running.
Big Red believed a quarterback could develop a basic sense of what the play caller wanted in Year 1 and he could show significant growth in Year 2 but not until Year 3 could the quarterback have a true mastery over the scheme he was running.
Three years? Jalen Hurts has never had more than one year.
One of the big reasons the Eagles believe Hurts will show significant improvement next year is that this will be the first time since high school he’ll be operating the same offense two years in a row.
“I think it’ll be a big thing,” Hurts said. “I think it’ll be huge and it’s something that I’m excited for, something I’m looking forward to.”
READ: McNabb still believes in Hurts, preaches patience
Hurts wasn’t a rookie this year, but it was his first year in Nick Sirianni’s offense, so he was really starting over.
For the sixth year in a row.
And next year he’ll be back, Sirianni, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson and passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo will presumably all be back, and Hurts will arrive at OTAs this spring without having to start from scratch when it comes to learning the offense.
“It’s like starting out on second base instead of home plate,” Sirianni said.
The biggest question around Hurts is how much he can improve next year. And can he make big enough strides when it comes to accuracy, decision making and ball security to be the Eagles’ long-term solution at quarterback.
You have to think a second year in the same system will give Hurts a terrific opportunity to make those strides that he has to make.
“For whatever reason, since I was in college, freshman at Alabama, every year I’ve had a different play caller,” he said. “Every year I’ve had all these different changes. I’ve had so much I’ve had to adjust to.
“To have some consistency coming into next year and having coach Sirianni back, having that will do us a huge benefit in every aspect of our game and do us a huge benefit as a football team.”
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Let’s look at Hurts’ career since he left Channelview High School in Texas and arrived in Tuscaloosa in the fall of 2016:
✓ Hurts was a true freshman at Alabama in the fall of 2016, and the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach was Lane Kiffin. When he accepted the Florida Atlantic head coaching job late in the 2016 season, he was replaced by Steve Sarkisian in time for the BCS National Championship Game against Clemson.
✓ Sarkasian left after the season to become the Falcons’ offensive coordinator under Dan Quinn and was replaced by Brian Daboll for the national championship season. Daboll left after the season to become Sean McDermott’s offensive coordinator with the Bills.
✓ Daboll was replaced by Mike Locksley and Dan Enos became quarterbacks coach. Locksley is currently head coach at Maryland, and Enos is his offensive coordinator.
✓ After the 2018 season, Hurts transferred to Oklahoma, where head coach Lincoln Riley also served as the quarterbacks coach and play caller during Hurts’ one season in Norman.
✓ Of course, Hurts’ play caller his rookie year with the Eagles last fall was Doug Pederson, and this year it was the combination of Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen.
So the last time Hurts ran the same offense two years in a row was 2014 and 2015 at Channelview High School, when he was 16 and 17 years old and the head coach was Averion Hurts, Jalen’s dad.
Add it up – Averion Hurts, Kiffin, Sarkisian, Daboll, Locksley, Riley, Pederson and Sirianni – and that’s eight play callers over the last seven seasons.
It’s hard to understate how valuable it will be for the 23-year-old Hurts to finally have some continuity instead of starting from Square 1 year after year.
“It’s hard to believe he’s never been in the same system,” Sirianni said. “But you think about it, Alabama is so good they always have coaches leaving, then he had the one year at Oklahoma, last year here (under Pederson) and then he was with us this year.
“But it’s exciting because you know he’s going to continue to develop in Year 2, and that’s big-time. That’s something he’s never had, and that’s huge. He’s also going to have the same wide receivers, which he hasn’t always had either, and that’s also important.”