Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Wednesday from the 2022 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and talked about Jalen Hurts’ progression and their confidence in him as the team’s quarterback moving forward. He also talked about the offensive line depth with and without Jason Kelce at center.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On Jalen Hurts
Sirianni talked about how they are still working through evaluations from the season and still evaluating film on their different concepts, but they’re happy with the progression Hurts made throughout the year.
“As you watch more and more, and as you think about it more and more, you’re just pleased with the progression that Jalen has made, and I think that’s common of who Jalen Hurts is as a player and as a quarterback, that he just continues to get better. Whether that’s from Alabama to Oklahoma, or Oklahoma to his first year in the NFL, or first year to second year, and we just know that progression is going to continue. And it’s not just because, you know, we’ve seen the progression go like that, it’s because of the person that he is. He loves football. This guy loves football, and he’s just willing to do the things that he needs to do to get better, and that’s why he does continue to get better. He’s tough, he’s competitive, he’s got high football IQ, he’s got high general character in himself, and those are things we’re looking for from draft prospects that we’re going through right now.”
The head coach went on to say that Hurts was able to get them to the playoffs last year, and they want to go further than that, but they’re confident that Hurts is the guy who can get them there.
He talked about watching the playoffs, Super Bowl, and even the College Football Playoff, what you see is great offensive and defensive lines and great quarterback play. Sirianni admitted they have a lot to improve on as an entire team, but they see Hurts continuing to grow. They want the QB to make good, accurate throws and make good decisions, and they’re hopeful that Hurts will continue to progress in those areas, and some of that also just comes with more experience and exposure.
Later, Sirianni went into a little bit more detail about Hurts’ evaluation.
“The four main things that you’re always looking at is, accuracy, you’re looking at decision making, the ability to create, and you’re seeing if he’s above the line in arm strength. Well, I think there’s no question that Jalen Hurts has the arm strength to make all the throws, he’s well above the line to be able to make the throws, whether it’s Atlanta in the first game of the year or whether it’s Philly, the last game of the year with some different type of weather. So, we’re confident in that.
He has amazing ability to create, whether things break down and the receiver might not get open or there’s a breakdown in the offensive line. And what we saw throughout the year is that, not only can he create with his legs, and make big plays with his legs, as the year went on you saw him become a weapon when he would move in the pocket, create in the pocket, and find his receiver down the field. You saw him create some explosive plays that way.
And so, those two things are a non-issue, and those are things he’s going to continue to excel at. You just want to see him continue to get better with his accuracy, and you want to see him get better with his decision making.”
On the offensive line
Sirianni said they are “hopeful” Jason Kelce is back next season and they have been in touch, but no decision has been made. He also quipped that the keg he ordered to entice the center to return was delivered on Wednesday.
Assuming Kelce is back, the head coach was asked what the starting lineup might look like up front in 2022.
“There’s a lot of things that are dependent on that, right? You gotta go through the offseason, you gotta go through all the things, and everybody’s gotta get back from injuries, get back into the swing of things, see where — there’s just a lot of things. We don’t have to make that decision for quite some time, so it is — I was fortunate to come to a team that had great offense and defensive line depth. We had some bumps and bruises this year that we really needed to rely on that, so it is a great problem to have. The depth that we have there, I know a lot of guys are going to be able to play, and ready to play, and want to play, and we’ll have to make a decision on who those guys are and what the right lineups are as we go through it.”
He didn’t commit to Landon Dickerson being the heir apparent to the center position should Kelce retire, but Sirianni noted that they have some good options should that happen and they might have even more options after free agency and the draft.
- Sirianni said they have to be really honest during their evaluations of themselves as coaches, players, and a team as whole this offseason. His message to players at their end-of-season meetings was imagine how much better they could be if everyone identified one or two things to improve this offseason.
- The head coach was asked about the team bringing a basketball hoop to the combine. He joked that people weren’t a big fan of him playing rock, paper, scissors last year, but then went on to say it’s a tool to evaluate prospects toughness and competitiveness, and they’ll use everything they can in these situations. He also noted it’s a good ice breaker and does lower the guard of players and shows that they like to have fun, and it’s a good way to start the interviews.