When Shane Steichen left for the Indianapolis Colts, former Eagles quarterback coach Brian Johnson took his place. Steichen spent two years as offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, and the offense led in multiple categories in 2021 and 2022.
That production will be a task to replace, but luckily, most of the Eagles’ offensive roster is returning in 2023, sans Miles Sanders. Head coach Nick Sirianni has playcalling experience, as shown in 2021, and Brian Johnson had experience calling plays on offense at multiple universities. Let’s look at Sirianni and Johnson and determine who is best suited to hold the reins on the Eagles’ offense in 2023.
Brian Johnson Eagles Offense Coordinator
Brian Johnson’s advantage is that he has known Jalen Hurts for decades and has played the quarterback position in college. Johnson is aware of Hurts’ strengths and weaknesses, and it’s no coincidence that Hurts best season as quarterback happened under Johnson’s coaching. Before he committed to the offensive coordinator position with the Eagles, he was a sought-out offensive mind. To Philadelphia, he brings familiarity but faces the challenge of filling Steichen’s shoes.
Luckily, Johnson has watched Steichen and will likely implement similar practices. Expect Johnson to continue utilizing Jalen’s strengths, as the designed quarterback runs will continue. In 2022, Hurts was praised for audibles and adjustments at the line of scrimmage with great poise. With a near life-long friendship, Johnson will continue to trust Hurts to do these things.
With a Johnson-led Eagles offense, expect Hurts to be the priority. He’ll be a threat with his legs, and he’ll continue to flourish as a passer. The Eagles will be aggressive, take deep shots with their weapons, and be a high-scoring unit. Luckily for Johnson, this isn’t new territory, as he called plays at Utah and Houston as offensive coordinator. Both teams averaged nearly 30 points per game during his time there.
During his time in Florida, Johnson was also a part of an offense that averaged 40 points a game. With the Eagles’ offensive arsenal, history is likely to repeat itself, as success tends to follow him. Johnson’s tenure could be the most seamless transition from one coordinator to the next that we’ve ever seen.
Nick Sirianni Eagles Head Coach
Nick Sirianni has dabbled with play calling, seemingly favoring a run-first approach. It’s no coincidence that the Eagles boasted a top-10 rushing offense in both of his seasons as head coach. Clock management has also been a strength in the Sirianni era, as well as aggression in 4th down situations, and the perfectly executed quarterback sneak. Sirianni called plays early in 2021, then handed the responsibility over to Steichen.
The Eagles would go 7-2 in their last nine games, with an increase in total yardage and points per game. Where Sirianni is equipped to hold the reins of the Eagles’ offense, he made it clear he has other intentions. After Super Bowl 57, he stated that he’d be giving up playcalling duties. He wants to focus on player relationships and development, a bigger priority for him.
Some may be skeptical because Nick Sirianni has more experience as a play-caller than Johnson, but Nick has stated that he trusts Johnson completely. Sirianni implied that Johnson played a big role in the Eagles’ 2022 offense, and credited him heavily with Hurts’ second-year improvement. Ever since giving up playcalling mid-2021, the Eagles have been one of the winningest teams in the NFL.
If it isn’t broken, why fix it? Sirianni is clearly proving to be a player’s coach, playing to his own strengths.
With experience and tenure, Sirianni has handed over the reins. The playcalling duties are Brian Johnson’s to lose.
If last season was a preview of things to come, he will do a fantastic job. Go birds.