How the Eagles' offense can be explosive under Nick Sirianni

For a team operating under a first-year head coach, the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense looked extremely comfortable, efficient and effective in an easy win over the Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday. Perhaps that’s because the connection between Nick Sirianni and his offensive coaches run deep. Sirianni worked with tight ends coach Jason Michael and passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo on the offensive staff of the Indianapolis Colts last season. Previously, Sirianni worked alongside Michael and offensive coordinator Shane Stiechen several years ago with the San Diego Chargers. Patullo, who was previously with Texas A&M, along with Brian Johnson, Quarterbacks coach from University of Florida, bring those spread concepts and college influence to the staff.

© Provided by Touchdown Wire Jalen Hurts

In Sunday’s 32-6 win over Atlanta, the Eagles didn’t have to open their entire offensive playbook. But what they did reveal shows they have intent on playing to the strengths of quarterback Jalen Hurts with three areas of focus: two-man concept reads, up-tempo RPOs and screen passes.

If that first game was any indication, the Eagles appear to be focused on creating explosive plays off two-by-two concepts routes, as Patullo ran this formation at Texas A&M.

© Provided by Touchdown Wire

Against the Falcons on third down (above), the Eagles lined up in a wide two-by-two stacked set to spread the linebackers thin, giving a better opportunity for the running back to gain a few yards between the tackles without being impeded. This is a common formation in college that is becoming a trend in the NFL despite the hashes being more narrow.

Not only are the formations similar, but the motions going into that wide receiver stack often create rub routes and mismatches against man coverage. We saw this early in the game when DeVonta Smith caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Hurts in the first quarter against Atlanta.

Like with Hurts, the Eagles’ coaches want to make Smith as comfortable as possible. That touchdown reception was somewhat reminiscent of the decisive 41-yard touchdown reception Smith reeled in from Tua Tagovailoa to cap Alabama’s win over Georgia in the CFP National Championship Game in January 2018. (See below.)

RPOs also will be a big part of the Eagles’ offense. If Hurts sees the edge rusher turning the corner, he can opt for high-percentage passes to remain comfortable. Patullo ran these types of RPOs with Texas A&M, and using those flat routes gives his athletes room to make explosive plays.

When it comes to throwing downfield, the Eagles staff likely will give Hurts some plays similar to those that he ran at Alabama and Oklahoma. With trips concepts that attack a one-high or two-high, it forces the safety to make a choice in dropping to cover the X receiver over the top or the outside guy on the outside. (See below.)

This staff has worked with players such as Antonio Gates and T.Y. Hilton, with an emphasis on using their playmakers all over the field. That means the X receiver likely will move throughout the game, and Hurts will have the option to use his legs with RPO and/or exploit the defense with his X receiver via those stacked concepts.

Sirianni has talked about making things comfortable for his players by matching personnel to scheme, and you saw that often against the Falcons.

“You always want to think – like before you even think of scheme –  I was taught this by my head college coach a long time ago, [former University of Mount Union Head Coach and Athletic Director] Larry Kehres – before you think about scheme – and I’ve said that here plenty of times – it’s all about the players,” Sirianni said Wednesday. “It’s first about the player. Players, players, players, players, players, players. So, what do they do well? Put them in positions of what they do well and then try to match that up to the scheme. I think that’s what it’s about more so than anything, and because we do it that way, I do think it poses more issues to the defense.”

The Eagles showed some wrinkles last week with the early touchdowns before they began draining the clock by running the ball with a comfortable lead. Expect more explosive plays, like we saw in the first half against Atlanta, in the Eagles’ upcoming game against San Francisco.

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