The Eagles are heading to Cleveland, but they had one more practice in Philly on Tuesday before hitting the road. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen spoke to reporters for the first time since their opening preseason game and evaluated Jalen Hurts’ performance. He also talked about his thoughts on joint practices, and what he’s seen from the young tight ends and running backs.
Here’s what the OC had to say:
On Jalen Hurts’ performance vs. Jets
“He was flawless in the game, six for six. He was great moving in the pocket on the first play, he got out and made the explosive play on that one. And he came back and checked the ball down to the back and got another 11 yards there. Then we hit the pivot over the ball to Jack [Stoll]. Then we hit the chip screen. Then he scrambled and scored a touchdown and we got called for holding. Then we come right back and he throws a beautiful pass to Dallas [Goedert]. Dallas is just so strong and his finish to go get in the end zone was impressive. It was a really good start.”
Steichen later talked about how they work with Hurts to improve his accuracy throwing on the run — like his 28-yard pass to open Friday’s game. The OC noted that with anything, they rep it over and over again during practice and individual drills. He also credited QB coach Brian Johnson for doing a nice job of getting him out of the pocket during individual drills to work on those throws.
He was asked about how many of Hurts’ six throws were progression throws, and Steichen pointed to a couple, including the pass to Quez Watkins on a shallow route — that was the third option in the progression.
“The great dilemma we have is, we have great skill positions, the wide outs, the tight ends. Then you have the offensive line who I believe is the best offensive line in football, and we have a great running game. Each week it could look different, whether we’re running it or throwing it. It’s going to look different every week.”
The OC also expanded on Nick Sirianni’s point earlier in the week about Hurts’ escaping the pocket for more reasons than just the protection collapsing. Steichen agreed with Sirianni and said that they don’t want to take away Hurts’ super powers to escape and extend plays, so when the play doesn’t develop, they can turn to his legs.
He acknowledged that getting out of the pocket creates some different angles for the passing game, but also put the defense in a bind because scrambles are hard to defend. If there was a downside, it would be that it cuts the field in half, but Steichen emphasized that the guys are going to get to their spots and be where they need to.
On joint practice with Cleveland
“I love the joint practices, to be honest. It breaks up camp. Gives our guys another opponent, and it’s really all about competing and going out. You get two practices and obviously they are in a controlled environment, but you know, you get that true competition, the situations you can set up with them, script it, and then sometimes you have the call-it periods.
But it’s just good to go against another opponent. You go against our defense for however long it’s been, two and a half weeks, just to see new faces out there in practice will be good for those guys.”
On the TE position
Steichen was asked about JJ Arcega-Whiteside being traded to Seattle, and the OC noted that JJAW is a great person and hopes he has success with the Seahawks. As for why making the transition from receiver to tight end can be challenging, Steichen pointed to going from playing outside to blocking DEs on the inside — he called it a whole new world.
The OC also talked about Noah Togiai, especially as the TE room got a little thinner, and said that going into Year 2 with the Eagles, he knows the system well and is improving. Togiai is doing a nice job of getting better every day
“The pass game he’s gotten really good [at]. His routes are looking crisper and obviously in the run game in line. Blocking defensive ends is a tough challenge in this league and it’s all about leverage on those big guys and he’s been doing a nice job.”
Steichen also mentioned that Grant Calcaterra has done a nice job, and runs really good routes. Being a savvy route runner is something Calcaterra showed off early in camp, and he knows how to find the dead spots and get open.
On the young RBs
“Jason [Huntley] is an explosive player, and some of that explosiveness showed up. There are some things we need to clean up from a detail standpoint that we talked to him about. The explosiveness, the speed he shows, he had some good plays. Then Kennedy [Brooks] is a big powerful runner. He is that type of guy that can get in there and get you those tough yards through the tackles, so excited about both those guys.”