The Birds’ offense looked pretty putrid on Thursday night. They didn’t try to establish the run. Jalen Hurts was mostly inaccurate. They scraped together some late points and made it close, but the score doesn’t exactly tell the story of an otherwise lopsided game.
Let’s go through some of Nick Sirianni’s postgame quotes:
Q. This is back-to-back weeks where it seems like the offense wasn’t really doing much until late in the game. Why do you think that was today? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: We didn’t execute early on. We have to put the guys in better spots to execute. We didn’t execute, and we just have to do a better job to start off the football game, to get ourselves off to a fast start. I know we scored on the first possession, but after that, it fluttered all the way to the middle of the second half. So, again, get to adjustments even quicker and make sure we are doing our jobs as coaches to put them in good positions.
Sirianni starting to sound like Andy Reid, isn’t it? Gotta put the players in a better position and blah blah.
Q. Why only one running back carry through the first 25 plays? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, some of them same thing are RPO’s. Some of them we look at screens as being able to get the running backs the ball as running back plays as well. Again, just the way the flow was going, we weren’t getting much on the first one. Then the RPO we weren’t getting much on either. Either way, it didn’t work. We were bad in the first half, and I put that on me first.
Sirianni has been consistent with this, saying that the coaching staff counts RPOs as running plays, regardless of what read is made. The problem here is that even if Jalen Hurts makes the right read every time, and the right read is to throw the ball or take it himself, Miles Sanders still isn’t touching the ball. You have a playmaker on the field and the job is to get that playmaker touches, which isn’t happening.
Q. Does the lack of those designed runs, does that put too much on QB Jalen Hurts? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: No, I don’t think so. He’s been doing that a long time that his RPO game and how he reads things, so I don’t believe that’s an issue.
Disagree. There’s way too much on Hurts’ shoulders right now. He’s throwing the ball something like 70% of the time in these games. And when he’s not throwing, he’s asked to make high-level, split-second reads of defensive ends and linebackers. It’s true that he’s been doing it a long time, and was very good at this in college, even going back to his true freshman season at Bama, but he has to be on point for every single snap while Tom Brady gets a portion of under center handoffs to take the burden off him. The Eagles would benefit from this, but they are averse to going under center and/or running between the tackles for some reason.
Q. What changed in the fourth quarter? You started giving the ball to RB Miles Sanders. (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, like I said, the way they were playing at the end of the second quarter into the third quarter is when they started playing the zone read a little bit different, which opened up a couple of those runs that we had called for that. It was good adjustment by our offensive staff getting to those runs after they made a little adjustment how they were playing the zone read.
You can run out of something other than zone read. Miles Sanders isn’t exactly Derrick Henry, but even some outside zone from under center seems like it would be right up his alley. Get Jordan Mailata out in space and let him move people around. Pull Jason Kelce and let him rumble. The running game is so boring and limited right now.
Q. For six weeks, the questions and answers that we have been going back and forth on have been the same. We ask you about why the lack of running back touches; you say about the RPO game, that the quarterback is making the decision. At what point do you have to reassess what you’re doing philosophically on offense to make sure the running backs are getting the ball? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Always. We’re always thinking about that. The couple plays that Miles had today that were lower long runs, those were RPOs too. We have to be able to get them touches in there.
I have said that too before, that we got to be able to make sure they get their touches. Again, we’re trying to call the best play that’s for us in that particular time. We had called runs today. They weren’t real great for us, and that’s why we went with a little more RPOs with it.
Great question from T Mac.
They’re gonna have to figure something out. This is a glorified college offense, and maybe it makes sense based on what the quarterback is and what he does well. But there needs to be diversity of thought and diversity in the approach, because right now it’s all very ineffective.