An underrated aspect of Jalen Hurts’ improvement through two games this year is the guy who’s calling plays for him.
You can tell watching the Eagles play offensive football that Shane Steichen and Hurts have a symbiotic relationship.
Shane Steichen gets Jalen Hurts. And Hurts believes in Steichen.
That connection, that bond, has helped Hurts become the No. 2-ranked quarterback in the NFL behind Josh Allen after two weeks, according to Pro Football Focus.
It’s still very early, but the Jalen Hurts we’ve seen so far this year is a more efficient, more dynamic, more effective and more comfortable version. And Steichen deserves a lot of credit for that.
Last year, Steichen didn’t become the Eagles’ play caller until somewhere around the Broncos game. Nobody has ever said exactly when Nick Sirianni handed off play calling duties to his offensive coordinator. But it wasn’t until almost the middle of the season.
And the Eagles had tremendous success on offense the second half of the season — this was the No. 4 offense in the NFL the last 10 weeks — but what we’ve seen so far this year is a world-class unit with a masterful offensive mind guiding a blossoming young quarterback.
It's fun to watch, and that relationship between Steichen and Hurts has really been at the heart of the Eagles’ early success.
“Yeah, it's great,” Steichen said. “The communication, any time you're around somebody for a long time you get to know them. You get to know what he likes, you get to know what he's good at.
“That process started … last year, then now we're getting into this season, the offseason, like all of those communications, those conversations in the QB room, on the field in between series, I mean it just continues to grow and grow. Then you see great growth from it.”
You don’t want to get too carried away after just two games, but the growth we’ve seen from Hurts isn’t a fluke.
He’s gone from 61 percent accuracy last year to 70 percent so far this year, 7.3 yards per attempt to 9.1 and 210 yards per game to 288.
So much of Hurts’ growth is just his own personal work ethic and hunger to learn and always improve.
But to bring that improvement to life, you need an elite play caller who understands how to get the most out of his quarterback, and it sure looks like the Eagles have that in Steichen, who spent five years with Sirianni with the Chargers.
Steichen appears to have a real flair for keeping defenses off balance and deploying his personnel in ways that get the most out of their skill set.
And if he can continue doing that with Hurts, this offense will continue to put up big numbers.
“We all spend so much time together and Shane spends a lot of time with Jalen to understand what he likes,” Sirianni said. “Shane and I are in every quarterback meeting and obviously talking through everything. What are we going to do against this look, what are we going to do against that look.
“Obviously, on a football level, they’re very close and they’ve worked on their connection … I think Shane does a good job with Jalen of connecting with him, not just in football, and I think Shane has continued to do a very good job of connecting with all the offensive players.”
The Eagles face Carson Wentz and the Washington Commanders at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., Sunday afternoon, with a chance to go 3-0 for just the 10th time in franchise history.
Hurts is 8-2 since the Detroit game last year with only one real dud during that span — the Giants loss at the Meadowlands last November.
It’s not all Steichen. But there’s no question he’s been a big part of what Hurts has become.
“It’s still early and I think we’re still building that [relationship],” Hurts said. “Everything is a process and that’s not just Shane, it’s everybody. Everybody’s all-inclusive.
“I talk about how everybody has to be on the same page and everybody needs to see things the same, and that’s teammate to teammate, that’s from center to quarterback, that’s from head coach to quarterback, that’s everybody being on the same page, and that’s just something you build throughout time. It’s an everlasting kind of climb.”