Nick Sirianni with a Fair Point About Leaving the Pocket

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Hurts played a nice game on Friday night. He finished 6-6 for 80 yards and a touchdown and came out unscathed despite a cheap hit out of bounds that drew the ire of Nick Sirianni and Jordan Mailata.

On the first play, he slid out to his right and hit Quez Watkins for a big gain:

After the game, Sirianni was asked about Hurts’ decision making in terms of leaving the pocket vs. staying in the pocket (emphasis in bold is mine):

“I thought he was great. He made plays in the pocket when he needed to make plays in the pocket and when he needed to escape, he escaped. I think it’s interesting, I think it’s also to be known that leaving the pocket isn’t just something that you see when the protection breaks down. I think that people are think like, ‘oh, we left the pocket early, and the protection was good.’ Well, sometimes nobody is open. And sometimes the defense calls a good play and it’s not a good look in the coverage.

So, it’s not as easy to say that the protection broke down, so he left, because that’s obvious. I think the thing that is not as obvious is, again, what I said, somebody slipped on a route out or the defense played a good coverage and there wasn’t anybody open and he’s trying to create with a scramble.

I thought he did a great job of that. I thought he played a good football game, first drive and we’ll just look to build on that.”

Sirianni noted, in a follow up response, that the Watkins play above was more clear cut because the Eagles clearly got beat on the inside, which flushed Hurts from the pocket. On the play where Hurts was hit late out of bounds, the head coach said that nobody was open.

But what he’s really doing with that first quote is just adding nuance to the discussion. I think sometimes fans and media have this thought that a guy gets nervous and/or has this bad habit of leaving the pocket too soon, like it’s a knee-jerk type of thing that quarterbacks with good legs do, or a lineman gets beat and the QB is running for his life. That’s not always the case. If you go through a couple of reads and don’t have any options, sometimes you’re just pulling the ball down and getting out of there because it’s the best play to make at that time, and not necessarily because of a protection breakdown or bad quarterback decision making. There are different things that cause QBs to take off and “create,” as Sirianni says.

Anyway, it’s a basic quote, but a good reminder. Sometimes we have to look at the bigger picture. There will be a parallel topic about Hurts needing to slide that comes up this season, which I’m sure we’ll be talking about with frequency.