Eagles blog

Creating a new football language from the ashes of two lost 2023 seasons

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The initial thought was that whoever the Eagles hired to replace Brian Johnson as offensive coordinator would have full autonomy over the offense while Nick Sirianni morphed into a CEO and leadership position.

“I’m hiring him to do a job and to be in charge of the offense,” Nick Sirianni said back in January.

That’s changed. 

Now the conversation is about blending Sirianni’s offense with Kellen Moore’s, taking the best elements of both systems and schemes and emerging with a new, improved, unstoppable scheme.

But how do you do that? How do you merge two offenses into one?

That’s what Sirianni and Moore have been figuring out.

“Our real focus here, as we've gone through this process, is we've got a lot of good going on,” Moore said Thursday. “We can't lose the good in the reps that Jalen (Hurts) and A.J. (Brown) have developed and Dallas (Goedert) has developed and this offensive line has developed. 

“How can we build off of those things and really connect the whole thing? That's been a really fun process. There will be tweaks. There will be changes. Everything is constantly evolving. That's part of this whole off-season program.”

It makes sense. Despite the Eagles' collapse, this was a very good offense for much of the year. So there are effective things in Sirianni's offense. And in his last four years as offensive coordinator in Dallas, the Cowboys were ranked in the top six in the NFL three times.

Take the best out of those two systems and throw in an offensive roster loaded with talent, and you should have this unstoppable offensive machine. 

The challenge is blending it all together in a way that makes sense.

Every play, formation and option has to have a name, and those names have to make sense and work together. That means stripping much of the old terminology from Sirianni’s offense and Moore’s offense to a great extent and starting over. But whenever it’s possible, the plays will retain their names from 2023 to make this transition easier for Jalen Hurts, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and all the other Eagles who are returning from last year.

“Plays are plays, words are words,” Moore said. “If everyone understands a play and it makes sense, let's keep things in place. It's not that complicated. 

“We're continuing to evolve the system to make sure the language ties together, that the communication can be clean and whether that word comes from Philadelphia, Los Angeles, or somewhere in between, we're building that as we go.”

This is a monumental task.

One of Moore’s pet words is “clean.” He wants an uncluttered system of verbiage to reduce the amount of thinking players have to do during the pre-snap process. 

So the challenge for him and Sirianni is to craft a system of play calling and terminology that merges two systems – both of which were struggling badly by the end of last year – while keeping things as simple as possible.

“I think it really just comes down to making sure the language is consistent,” Moore said. “I think that's the biggest process. When maybe you make an adjustment with the language, as funny as this may sound, making sure it doesn't fall into an issue down the line and (mean) something else. Whether you make an adjustment to a pass play, maybe the words now associated with a screen and vice versa. 

"There's just some language stuff that we're continuing to make sure we keep it really clean for these players so they can play fast and know exactly what we want to accomplish each and every play, so they can just go for it.”

Moore spoke about his experience in similar situations. He remained with the Cowboys as offensive coordinator when Mike McCarthy replaced head coach Jason Garrett after the 2019 season, and then he found himself in a similar position last offseason when he replaced Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi under Brandon Staley.

“I think it's a really fun process,” he said. “Fortunately, like most of us who go into the profession, you have different times in your career where - whether it’s a new coach coming in or you’re going into a new place - people have different exposures. The more conversations you can have, the more discussion points (the better).

“It's been really, really fun. I love the opportunities that we can sit down and just talk about things. I learn from Nick and hopefully I can bring some things that people can learn from just maybe an experience that I've had that's different than theirs. I think that's part of this whole process.  

“Each stop (as an NFL coach) is really the big emphasis is on collaboration. … This year our focus is ultimately what do we want 2024 to look like? Whether it comes from 2023 or beyond. Whatever it comes from, it comes from."

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