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Looking at how Nick Sirianni’s offense has evolved through the season

Eagles All-22 film breakdown.

Syndication: The Record Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

As we emerge from the Philadelphia Eagles’ bye week, I decided I wanted to write a breakdown of Nick Sirianni’s offense and how it has changed throughout the year for this week’s article. I did not want this to become a Jalen Hurts article. However, as I started to think about this more, it is impossible not to mention Hurts at all.

So basically, this is going to be a breakdown looking at how Sirianni’s offense has adapted throughout the year with Hurts at his quarterback and what I have seen from it so far.

A little treat for you all... I had a conversation with possibly the greatest Eagles X&O’s writer of all time - Ryan Sasaki who you may know as @ChipWagoneer (and/or as a former BGN contributor). Ryan no longer writes about the Eagles but his old blog on the Chip Kelly offense was one of the all time great websites. He is one of the reasons I fell in love with studying the all22 and I’ve been lucky enough to speak to him a few times over the years. His old blog is here and it is always worth checking out. I will include his comments throughout.

For the purpose of this article, I am going to split it up into weeks 1-7 and 8-13. Because something changed during the mini-bye following the Las Vegas game.

Weeks 1-7

So... the offense didn’t look very good the first few weeks. It was a mesh of quite a few concepts with a heavy emphasis on a shotgun spread-out passing offense. The whole offense ran through Hurts and the passing game. Without utilizing the middle of the field however. There was a real lack of focus on the run game and no attempt to get Hurts going as a runner either.

There were some concerns that showed up routinely on film too. Such as, an inability to get the screen game going weird odd plays that looked bad from the start.

When I asked Ryan about the early failures in the screen game, he made (as always) a very smart point.

“Teams are less likely to pin their ears back and attack Hurts for fear he breaks the pocket and are focusing more and more on trying to contain him in the pocket. This makes it harder to execute on screens because the DL isn’t exploding off the ball”.

In my opinion, the single biggest issue with the offense early on was the reliance on RPO’s. It was clear to me after a few weeks that Hurts is not good at running them. Hurts seemed to make wrong decisions too often and they led to bad plays in the running game. This led to the inability to run the ball, a lack of running plays in general, and just some very bad football for us to watch.

There was a real lack of creativity early on. We saw a lot of curl routes too. Way too many curl routes.

The Eagles overall design in the passing game seemed really off in certain weeks too. I commented a lot on this early in the season, but the spacing in the passing game just seemed out of sync.

I struggled to find an identity with the Eagles offense. I didn’t see many concepts run well consistently. To be honest, I didn’t really see a clear plan. I asked Ryan what he thought and he didn’t hold back.

“I think I am in a similar boat as most. No idea what the hell they were doing in the first 6-7 games. I can only imagine the first 6-7 weeks was trying to evaluate what Hurts could do as a passer. But it should have been clear from the start that what they’ve been doing the last month was the way to play with Hurts and compete. So strange”.

The Eagles seemed to do a bit of everything. Wide zone. Boot action. RPOs. Deep shots. Spread offense. But they didn’t do anything well. They just threw the ball. A lot.

In weeks 1-7, Hurts had 287 drop backs and threw the ball 242 times. 35 throws a game is a lot for a quarterback who specializes as a runner.

After 7 weeks, fans were melting down. The Eagles were playing terrible. Articles were being written about Sirianni being one and done... and then something changed.

Weeks 8-13

It was obvious from the first drive in week 8. The Eagles were under center. They had an identity. They were going to run the ball.

We saw 3 TE sets which we rarely saw before. The Eagles were committing to the run, for the first time all season.

This was not a one off. The Eagles have continue to build their offense around the run game. And it has changed the entire complexion of the offense.

One of the best all22 writers that I follow, @OllieConnolly, published these stats that back up everything the film showed. The offense had gone from one of the worst in the league to one of the best. And it was a completely different offense.

@OllieConnolly

The difference is striking. The EPA per play change is insane. The Eagles were running more 2/3 TE sets. Hurts was being asked to run more. It is not an exaggeration to say it was a different offense.

When I asked Ryan what changed, he confirmed what we could see on the film.

“The scheme looks a lot more like I thought I would from the start: heavy focus on QB-enabled run game showcasing Stoutland’s diverse run schemes. Not many schemes they don’t run”

The Eagles run game has become incredibly diverse. They run zone, power. counter, trap, split-zone, RPOs. As well as a bunch of designed QB runs such as counter, power, etc. Here are some of my favorite below.

I know Analytics Twitter hates this and let me be clear: you do not need to run the ball effectively to run play-action. However, when you run the ball very well (especially from under center) it becomes easier to run play action and we have seen the Eagles be more effective with play action recently.

At the start of the season, it seemed like a bunch of random jumbled plays that did not link together. Since week 8, we have seen some concepts become used over and over again and we have also seen clear examples of sequencing, which is something I did not see much early on except for the Falcons game.

So, what are Sirianni’s core concepts? If you have read the film room pieces you should know by now... but let’s go over some of them.

Flood

4 Strong/4 Level Flood

Shoutout @denizselman33 for this one

Variety of Man Beaters

Sirianni has also showed a good understanding of wide receivers splits, match ups and formations to get his receivers open against man coverage.

Saw this play week 1... thanks @TS_Sportsbook for video

There has also been a lot of flat/corner routes and smash but Hurts has been hesitant to pull the trigger. This is an area he MUST improve.

Overall

In summary, I have been really impressed with that Sirianni has done since week 8. I was not impressed with the first 7 weeks. Defenses are smart and teams will adjust, so it will be interesting to see how Sirianni’s offense evolves over the final few weeks.

I asked Ryan for some final thoughts about what we can do to improve, and he said the following:

“I would like to think the focus in the bye week is to look for ways to incorporate some more passing concepts off their run looks. I do like how they have mixed in some nice quick easy ones off of motion and they’ve done a nice job incorporating the screen game as of late. I am hoping they use the bye to focus a bit more on presenting Hurts with more quick options off the run action... That’s what he did so well at Oklahoma. He’s not there as a deep drop passer and struggles to get through his progressions and doesn’t throw with anticipation. And they need to spend the whole bye week to scheme better ways to ensure DeVonta Smith is getting 8-10 targets a game. It’s inexcusable. That play out of the backfield was a nice example”

Sirianni, if you are reading, can we throw a bit more to DeVonta please?!

Anyway, bit of a long one this week but hope you enjoyed. Comments and feedback appreciated as always. Until next week.