Meet the new boss? Same as the old boss?
Former Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen is gone, now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
His replacement? The Eagles have several assistant coaches on staff that head coach Nick Sirianni will consider.
- Quarterback coach Brian Johnson
- Passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo
- Assistant quarterback coach/offensive assistant coach Alex Tanney
- Run game coordinator/offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland
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It’s uncertain if there is a favorite among the Eagles’ brain trust. We know Jalen Hurts, the person with an influential vote, is a big fan of Johnson, his position coach. He also has spoken favorably about the other three.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter said on 97.5 The Fanatic this morning that “the offensive coordinator there is gonna be Brian Johnson, you can take that to the bank.”
There is a decades-long connection between Jalen Hurts and Johnson.
Johnson, 35, played for Hurts’ father Averion Hurts Sr., at Baytown (Texas) Lee High School. Jalen was the ballboy for his dad’s team and always hanging around.
“Football is the same, it’s about how you communicate certain things to people,” Hurts told reporters at the Super Bowl last week, praising Johnson. I feel like he’s a great communicator. He’s been able to simplify some things. And I think it holds a lot of weight that he’s played the position. He’s the best quarterback to come through Utah, so I think that holds a lot of weight.”
Sirianni hired Johnson in 2021 when he became the Eagles’ head coach. Johnson was the University of Florida’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Johnson began coaching in 2011 at Utah, where he was a star quarterback. He coached for a decade in college and was Dak Prescott’s quarterbacks coach at Mississippi State.
“Brian’s a really smart coach,” said Sirianni, who was unaware of Johnson’s connection with Hurts when he hired him. “Brian’s played the position of quarterback at a very high level … at Utah and now he coaches at a high level.”
I think what you always want for coaches is to make this game, which is complex, simple. Because they’re making these decisions in split-seconds and it’s hard to play this game in your mind super complex, you have to play it simple so you play fast. And, Brian does a great job of that.”
Last January, Hurts spoke about continuity and how excited he was to go into the 2022 season with the same offensive coaches. He hadn’t enjoyed that luxury since high school.
For Hurts’ comfort alone, you would think the Eagles won’t go outside the organization to fill Steichen’s position.
“I think it’ll be a big thing,” Hurts said in January about the having the same offensive coaches. “I think it’ll be huge and it’s something that I’m excited for, something I’m looking forward to.”
“For whatever reason, since I was in college, freshman at Alabama, every year I’ve had a different play-caller. Every year I’ve had all these different changes. I’ve had so much I’ve had to adjust to.
“To have some consistency coming into next year and having Coach Sirianni back, having that will do us a huge benefit in every aspect of our game and do us a huge benefit as a football team.”
Johnson has worked with Hurts for two seasons. Hurts made a massive leap forward this past season when the quarterback was the runner-up for the league MVP award. Whatever Johnson is teaching, Hurts is picking up.
“You could tell right away [Hurts was advanced in the Eagles’ offensive system],” Johnson said during Super Bowl week.
“Jalen has always been very intentional and we were very, very intentional with what we wanted to improve coming into this season and he took that to heart.
“The way he works, and the way he is as a person, it’s not a surprise at all.”
“When we started this thing and wanted to come into Year 2, one of the main things was consistency down in and down out and he’s been able to do that.”
If the Eagles stay in-house, there will be continuity but there also will be change as someone new will join the staff.
The new offensive coordinator would have to be someone both Sirianni and Hurts are comfortable with. Sirianni turned over play-calling to Steichen in 2022 so the head coach could concentrate on game management. That new arrangement worked out.
Hurts clearly is on an upward trajectory. The Eagles don’t want to jeopardize that.
Another factor is that Johnson reportedly is generating interest from other teams for offensive coordinator jobs. After Hurts’ stellar season, that shouldn’t be a surprise.
- “He’s gonna be a star one day. He’s gonna be a big-time head coach one day,” Hurts said during Super Bowl week.
- “Hopefully we can keep him here as long as we possibly can, but nonetheless I’m proud of him and it’s definitely just the beginning for the both of us.”
The Eagles endured two doses of turmoil Tuesday when defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was named head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Successful teams lose coaches. That’s how the NFL works.