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June 14, 2024

Eagles mailbag: Do Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni hate each other?

'Winning cures all' is the easiest way to sum up any NFL relationship. That goes for Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni, too.

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Eagles-Nick-Sirianni-Brian-Johnson-Jalen-Hurts Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

Nick Sirianni, Jalen Hurts, and Brian Johnson

On Monday we solicited questions for an Eagles mailbag via Twitter or whatever it's called now. Thank you as always for doing half the work for me. This is Part II of a two-part mailbag (Part I here).

Question from cocoeagles88: A lot is being made (warranted or not, this city is crazy) about Jalen's answer when asked about his head coach last week. Using your best lens, is there anything to that, or was Hurts just being aloof?

Remember when the Eagles lost six of their last seven games of the season with a point differential of -82, including embarrassing blowouts against the 49ers and Cowboys, as well as pathetic losses to bottom feeders like the Cardinals and Giants, followed by a no-show effort in the playoffs against a 9-8 Bucs team? 

Remember during that stretch how bad the offense was, particularly in their unpreparedness for blitz-heavy defenses, and how the Eagles' staff got thoroughly out-coached and how Hurts went from an MVP favorite in like Week 12 to a guy the city's fans were questioning two months later? 

And then after the dust settled, remember when the Eagles fired offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, who Hurts has known since he was five years old, and the head coach whose offense Johnson was running got to keep his job?

Well guess what... When a team has an epic collapse like the Eagles had last season, it's going to take a toll on relationships, especially among the faces of the franchise. It's not a stretch to assume that Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts probably aren't as cool with each other as they were, saaayyyy, after they won the NFC Championship Game. #RelationshipAnalysis.

At the conclusion of minicamp last week, Hurts was asked what he thought about Sirianni's openness to make changes to the offense, and what that says about him. Hurts didn't give much of an answer to the initial question, or to a follow-up. Via the Eagles' website: 

It's my understanding that one or more of WIP's radio shows made a big deal about that quote, criticizing Hurts for not praising Sirianni. I didn't hear it, and didn't feel the need to search for it. I get it. They have hours upon hours of show time to fill and there isn't much in the way of Eagles content in June.

But it should be noted that any praise for offensive scheme change from Hurts could also serve as an endorsement for the team's canning of his longtime friend in Johnson, so it really shouldn't come as a surprise that he didn't offer up much of an answer.

Is Hurts' and Sirianni's relationship strained? Maybe 🤷‍♂️, but I don't think that Hurts' bland answer to that question is some revelatory moment about the team's culture.

As always, winning cures all.

Question from Jack_Despeaux: Jalen Hurts said the playbook is 95 percent different. How big of an issue is it for offenses to learn and implement new offenses so frequently? Kellen Moore is a massive improvement, in my opinion, but it’s another year with another OC for Hurts.

As we noted in our post-practice notes last week, Hurts is entering his fifth NFL season and he will have his fourth offensive coordinator in those five years:

  1. 2020: Press Taylor (passing game coordinator)
  2. 2021: Shane Steichen
  3. 2022: Shane Steichen
  4. 2023: Brian Johnson
  5. 2024: Kellen Moore

Steichen and Johnson were running Sirianni's offense, so it's probably more like three offensive schemes over five years. Still, Hurts has not often had the benefit of scheme continuity either in college or in the pros. The one year he had the same offensive coordinator in consecutive NFL seasons he was the MVP runner-up and the team went to the Super Bowl.

For those of you in the working world, apply learning of new playbook to re-learning whatever it is you do professionally. For example, my first job out of college was selling copiers. If Xerox threw out their entire line of copiers and came out with new versions with entirely different specs, features, operation panel, and pricing, it would take a while to learn the new machines I was selling inside and out, and the time spent learning them would take away from making sales. I'm sure it's not easy learning a new scheme every year.

Question from @irish_00: What is Hurts’ current approval rating with Eagles fans? How much goodwill from 2022 does he still have?

I don't know. Let's ask:

Jalen Hurts: Approve or disapprove?

Question from @JustEaglesStuff: It feels like Jalen Carter is knocking on the door of being one of those elite DTs in the NFL. Over/Under 7.5 sacks… also does he make the Pro Bowl?

He was elite at times as a rookie. He just didn't finish strongly. He has a bright future in the NFL if he can stay healthy and keep his head on straight. 

I think the one concern with Carter this season is that he is going to play a ton of snaps. Can he continue to perform in the fourth quarter of a Week 16 game? We'll see.

But, sure, give me the over on 7.5 sacks and a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Question from @DrewSportsNews: On a panic meter where 10 is complete panic and 1 is complete patience, how do you think the Eagles view UGA products Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean and Nolan Smith?

Davis is being celebrated this offseason for being in better shape this year even though he currently weighs 350 pounds.

Dean is a backup at the moment behind Zack Baun and Devin White.

Smith couldn't get on the field as a rookie and he's probably be the fourth edge rusher in the pecking order as a second-year guy.

Sooooooo, they're not off to a great start.

Question from @AlexArtz: What should we fear more: Lack of D-line depth or none of the linebackers stepping up and playing like at least average starters?

Neither would be good. #Analysis. If you don't at least have competent linebacker play, there are a lot of teams capable of destroying defenses in the middle of the field, like we saw the Cowboys and 49ers (among others) do to the Eagles last season.

The D-line depth is an underdiscussed concern. As noted above, the Eagles are going to need Carter to play a whole lot of snaps this season, but they'll also need more from Jordan Davis and Milton Williams. If those guys can't handle additional workload — or, you know, get hurt — they're thinner along the D-line than they have been in a while.

Question from @RJankowitz: Did you see the Eagles run more plays from under center in OTAs than they have in recent years? Obviously, it is a passing camp, but I was hoping to see a commitment to having less predictability in the running game.

They barely ran any 11-on-11 reps at all in spring practices, and no, I don't recall seeing any snaps from under center. 

Question from GrooveHeaven: How much do you anticipate the offense will have to scale back certain schemes without a center as athletic as Jason Kelce?

Cam Jurgens is extremely athletic.

• 4.92 40 (98th percentile)
• 7.19 3-cone (98th percentile)
• 4.49 shuttle (92nd percentile)
• 33.5" vertical jump (96th percentile)
• 119" broad jump (99th percentile)

They'll be able to run the same stuff where they get the center on the move to the perimeter and up the field. 

My bigger concern with the transition from Kelce to Jurgens will be the mental side of the game (line calls, blitz adjustments, etc.). I don't doubt Jurgens' intelligence, but there will be an inevitable dropoff going from a guy with over a decade of NFL experience to a one playing center for the first time in the pros. 

Question from @TheCalfDaddy: Favorite destination this upcoming season? For any reason be that food, travel, gameday experience, etc. (Going to rule out Brazil, cuz like, duh)

I'm probably not going to Brazil. I determined that if you include transportation other than just the flight, it's roughly an 18-hour travel day, each way, occurring the day before the game and the day after, with pretty much no free time to check out the city. It's really hard to lose that time during one of the busiest parts of the year. But beyond the travel, it just feels disorganized and hectic, and has the potential to be an extremely inefficient trip, with no worthwhile additional media access other than the game. Kinda disappointing, really.

Otherwise, my 2024 road city power rankings:

  1. New Orleans: Super fun town, great food.
  2. Tampa: Warm weather, love Clearwater Beach, extremely easy to get in and out.
  3. Los Angeles: It's warm and there are limitless things to do, but it's difficult to get around out there and it's a long flight.
  4. Baltimore: Underrated city. Fells Point and the Inner Harbor are both fun, though it'll be cold in December.
  5. Cincinnati: I haven't been there since the Eagles played there 2016, so I can't claim to really know much about Cincy. I'm actually kind of intrigued to check it out.
  6. Arlington, Texas: Meh. We go there every year.
  7. East Rutherford, NJ: Drive up, drive back, same day.
  8. Landover, Maryland: Worst venue in American sports.

Question from @Kyle_Sch_: Will you ever podcast again?

I have an idea that I believe is fun, new, and original. That excites me more than podcasting, since everyone and their mother has a podcast these days. If I can launch that idea and people like it then I don't know how much time I'll have for podcasting. Then again, successful podcasts can be valuable, so maybe I can find time for both, ha. I have to sort through all of that this summer.

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