The Eagles had their final OTA practice on Wednesday — thanks to WR coach Aaron Moorehead catching a punt and Thursday’s practice being cancelled — and head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters about their practice format, the change to play-calling, and how Jalen Hurts is developing.
Sirianni acknowledged that it’s huge to have the entire coaching staff back and together for a second year. Not only for the camaraderie among the staff and their players, but also because having to teach a new coach the system, whether on offense or defense, takes a lot of additional time that they can instead put toward other things.
Here’s what else the head coach had to say:
On play-calling duties
Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen confirmed last week that he would be taking over the play-calling responsibilities this season, and Sirianni elaborated further about the change.
“We’re going through games, and there’s obviously a lot of things that go on during the game, right? And, I was just noticing — Shane [Steichen] was already calling the two-minute drills, and like I said, it’s a collaborative event.
Like you can’t just go out and call a game without putting the plan together, right? You put the plan together all week. One of my favorite things to do in the world is put the plan together and put the plays in that you think are going to work against the defense. That’s like one of my favorite things to do in the world. So, we’re continuing to do that.
But what I noticed was, I wasn’t communicating with [Jonathan] Gannon about something, or I wasn’t communicating enough with the defense when they needed to be pumped up, or Coach [Michael] Clay, or the special teams.”
Sirianni said it came down to him trusting Steichen and the two spending so much time together during the week to come up with the game plan. He noted that they made the change during a game last season, and he liked how it freed him up to do some other things.
He also later mentioned that they are on the headsets together during games talking about what both the head coach and OC want with the next set of plays, and collaborate in-game, too. So, while Steichen is handling the play-calling, Sirianni is still very much involved. He also admitted that there’s no bump to his ego stemming from the decision, and he fully supports what’s best for the team.
On Jalen Hurts and his development
“Jalen is, in my opinion, is more comfortable in the offense — and that’s just the part of the process the second year. He knows where the receivers are going to be versus different looks, he knows where to go with the football a little bit quicker. And we’ve done our job as coaches — and I don’t want to say we’ve done a good job, but what we’ve done as coaches is figured out what he likes, and what he’s good at, and all these different things. It’s about accumulating those reps.”
Sirianni also mentioned noticing that the QB’s fundamentals are improving and him having good OTA practices, but also spoke about Hurts’ needing to continue to build on that foundation.
On the offseason program
As for the shortened structure of their OTA practices — getting about 24 reps during 7v7 plus an additional 10 reps during the rookie development phase — Sirianni spoke about having researched different ways of doing things, and finding that this worked best for them. They took out the 11v11 drills because they’re able to go full speed without having to worry about the guys up front going to hard. Some teams have five or six team periods, compared to the Eagles’ two, but that affects how much individual time they have — and Sirianni wants more individual time at this point of the offseason to focus on fundamentals.
The head coach also acknowledged that OTAs are voluntary so he didn’t want to point out anyone’s attendance (or lack thereof), but said that they had very good attendance, and also understand that things come up for players, as well.
Regarding Jalen Reagor specifically, he wasn’t at the two practices attended by the media, but Sirianni said that the WR had great attendance throughout the offseason program. He went on to say that his message to Reagor following the 2021 season was that the WR isn’t at TCU anymore, and won’t see 11 targets in a game, so he needs to make the most out of the few that he does get.