Jalen Hurts has talked about how much he’ll benefit from having the same offensive system and play caller for the second straight season in 2022.
On Friday, we got clarification that those jobs fall on two different people.
While we knew that Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen was the guy calling plays into Hurts last year and we knew Steichen gained more play calling responsibilities as the year went on, head coach Nick Sirianni as recently as late December said they had been calling plays “together” in 2021.
Turns out, Steichen was really the offensive play caller for the second half of the season. And he’ll be the offensive play caller going forward.
“I think last year we were a new staff, and we were evolving as an offense,” Steichen said at OTAs on Friday. “So as the season got going on, I ended up taking over more of the play calling mid-season. Then again, Nick has a stamp on every single thing we do. So, in the meeting rooms he has a stamp on everything we do, every play that's on that call sheet, he makes sure it's justified, boom, and we're good to go.
“So going forward, I'll be calling the plays next year, and we'll go from there.”
Of course, the Eagles are correct in saying that this is a collaboration. And it’s important to note that it’s still Sirianni’s offense. But having Steichen call plays last year not only streamlined the Eagles’ process but it also allowed Sirianni to focus on the other aspects of his job on Sundays from a game management standpoint.
And Steichen seemed to have a knack for calling plays, especially for his young second-year quarterback.
“I think he tries to put guys in positions to make plays,” Hurts said. “I think there’s a lot of consulting going on throughout the week. You have Nick Sirianni, [passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo], Coach Brian Johnson and myself, we’re all getting together, talking about what do we want to do? How do we want to attack this? Put guys in these situations. It’s a collaborative thing, but I think [Steichen] does a great job and I’m excited to have him back again.”
Steichen, 37, explained that he and Sirianni think very similarly about offense. That likely dates back to their days together with the Chargers and has continued now that Steichen is on Sirianni’s staff in Philly.
The collaboration process Steichen and Hurts spoke of begins during the week of preparation, when the Eagles go through plays for situational football. While Steichen is the guy choosing the play and calling it into Hurts, these scenarios have been talked about all week.
“We have a system,” Steichen said. “We have an opener. We go through the 3rd downs. We go through everything we do, week in and week out, so we're prepared for the game. So once the game starts, we're kind of on the same page.
“Then in between series just like every team probably does around the league, you talk through the next series of plays, ‘Hey, here's what we're going to go with, boom, boom, boom, be ready for this in this situation,’ just so all the coaches are on the same page.”
While we don’t exactly know when Steichen took over play calling duties during last season, it is notable that around the middle of the season, when Steichen said the change took place, the Eagles began to run the ball an awful lot. And they really made their playoff push behind the strength of that rushing attack.
Of course, the Eagles only became a running team out of necessity. They realized that’s what needed to happen for their team to be successful. But they finished as the 25th-ranked passing offense in the league. That’s not good enough.
With the addition of A.J. Brown, the Eagles are expected to have a better passing offense. Sirianni has said the Eagles need to get better in that area; and after all, he’s still in charge.
“On game day, he's the head coach,” Steichen said, “and if he wants something called, he'll tell me and I'll get it called.”
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