The relationship between starting quarterback and head coach is one of the strongest bonds in sports. Or, it should be for the football team to feel comfortable. So when Nick Sirianni shared a story about “razzing” Jalen Hurts via text message after Alabama and Oklahoma games, it put everyone at ease.
And the story drew laughter from the assembled media prior to Philadelphia Eagles’ practice. The first-year head coach knows he has to win over Hurts to win the locker room. So far, so good.
“Part of you, with the quarterback, you have no choice but to grow closer,” Sirianni told reporters on Wednesday. “You get closer just because of the time you spend with them. But we’re obviously – and I joke about that, because I’m saying Jalen has to be close to me because I’m in the meetings with him all the time.”
Sirianni revealed that he is in every offensive meeting, including quarterback meetings where he talks about the plays the Eagles are going to run and then leads the film session. They split the meeting up into thirds between Sirianni, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson. Those meetings are the longest, on purpose.
“They start earlier, they go longer,” Sirianni said, “and that’s just the way it is, and we’re in there the whole time.”
They are still learning each other’s preferences, of course. But when it comes to picking the plays and concepts, everyone has a say. Even Hurts.
“I think we’re pretty close there,” Sirianni said. “Listen, if I like something and Shane likes something and Brian likes something and we love it and he hates it, we ain’t going to run it.”
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Hurts Voted Captain by Eagles Teammates
Some coaches will go ahead and choose the team captains. Doug Pederson did it that way. Not Sirianni. He prefers to let the players in the locker room pick their own leaders. Hurts was voted as one of those six guys earlier this week. On Wednesday, the 23-year-old quarterback described what it meant to be wearing the C on his chest.
“It means the world,” Hurts said. “It’s a tremendous honor. You see the C on the chest and all those things and it exemplifies more than that, it exemplifies the hard work that goes into it. The relationships you build with your teammates, a whole bunch, so for everybody to grant me that and allow me to lead, I’m excited and I don’t take it lightly.”
Hurts said his relationship with Sirianni keeps growing every day, adding a wry smile when asked about those late-night text messages about college football. Connecting with people is the team’s No. 1 core value – Sirianni has five: connect, compete, fundamentals, football IQ, accountability – and little things like that bring them closer together. The goal is to be on the same page in everything you do, especially on the football field.
“I think the biggest thing is being on the same page, everybody being on the same page,” Hurts said. “My job is to go out there and execute it, whatever is called, make it right. So I want to execute at a high level, everybody on offense wants to do the same, and we’ll let the coaches do their jobs.”
Setting the Standard, Playing Our Brand of Football
Hurts is quick to point out that he is running Sirianni’s offense, so it’s important for him to see it the same way the head coach does. And there’s been a lot of give-and-take, plenty of open dialogue between the two to find the right mix of plays.
“We’ve had time to throw it against the wall and see what sticks,” Hurts said.
There is an ear-splitting din surrounding their Fortress of Solitude, though. Many so-called experts are expecting them to fail in their first year, to crash and burn miserably in the basement of the NFC East. Hurts has his ear muffs on.
“We’re a team that’s not going to worry about external factors as we go through this journey,” Hurts said. “There’s going to be highs and lows, but we want to go out there and play our brand of football. We want to play to the standard that we’ve set for ourselves this year.”