The Philadelphia Eagles had four major coaching holes to replace since the end of their 2022-23 season. Two play-calling coordinators and key positional coaches have been brought in to help continue the Eagles’ run of dominance – even if there hasn’t been a lot of time to get everyone up to speed.
As is life in the NFL though. Speaking to reporters at the Annual league meeting that kicks off the 2023 season, the Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni spoke in depth about the team’s changes in coaching and plenty of other roster questions the team will be focusing on as the calendar turns to April.
Sirianni spoke glowingly about the Eagles new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, but it was the defensive coordinator, Sean Desai that drew the most praise and comparison.
“He’s (Desai) super organized. He has a process for everything. I see the defensive guys grinding and working really hard. Getting to see that more and more. We’re just getting into my visions for the defense and in certain situations…he’s done a great job so far.” Sirianni explained.
The Eagles’ third-year head coach also explained in detail ways that he would get the coaching staff together to be on the same page – coming over to watch March Madness was only part of that process.
The NFL’s annual League Meeting in Arizona is also a chance for the Eagles staff to talk about some of their returning players. Three that stood out that will be in bigger roles next season are Cam Jurgens, Reed Blankenship, and Quez Watkins.
For Jurgens, the departure of Isaac Seumalo means the team has a need at right guard – a position that the second-year pro has worked extensively in with the Eagles during the 2022 season.
“Cam had a really good year sitting behind one of the best players in franchise history (Jason Kelce). He will continue to learn from him. We’ll see what the best situation is for him.” Sirianni said.
Another young player who didn’t produce as well as many had expected was Quez Watkins. Watkins caught just 33 passes for less than 400 yards and three scores. His big drop in Super Bowl LVII was a key reason for the team coming away from that game with a loss. Regardless of his declining play in the prior year, Sirianni believes it wasn’t all bad from the former sixth-round pick.
“He did a lot of things that really affected the game that don’t show on the stat sheet with how he stretches the field,” Sirianni explained. “The difference between (2022) and (2021) is his opportunities…the offense runs through A.J., DeVonta, and Dallas.”
Watkins, 25, is entering the final year of his rookie deal but doesn’t seem to be on the way out of Philadelphia just yet.
How about the team’s franchise quarterback? Jalen Hurts has already been touted as the face of the franchise with Howie Roseman going so far Monday afternoon to say the team was close to giving him an extension.
To Philadelphia’s head coach, nothing has changed from the MVP candidate last season.
“He’s (Hurts) working out like a maniac in the weight room and getting after it.”
Sirianni went on to explain that the former second-round pick has stayed close to Philadelphia and continuously has worked out this offseason at the team’s facility. With Hurts entering the final year of his rookie contract, the team also isn’t worried about what that would do to the quarterback’s mental state either.
“We have a special quarterback and we’ll use his special ability” Sirianni concluded.
Potential Free Agents
One rumor that was brought up late last week was how former Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was choosing between free agent destinations with the Jets, Bengals, and Eagles.
While the interest appears to be one-sided, the Eagles coaching staff is more than content with his current running back room.
“We’re really excited about Rashaad’s addition. We saw what Kenny Gianwell did in the playoff run. It seems every time he’s in the game, he’s making plays. Boston (Scott) being back is huge. I’m really excited about Trey Sermon. I can’t tell you how many times in practice where we wished we could get him touches but we just couldn’t do it last year.” Sirianni later said. “I’m really excited about that room.”
Sirianni later gave credence to Elliott’s career as a Cowboy but spoke more about the team’s current room than any other addition potentially being made.
Philadelphia is heading into year three of the Sirianni regime and has clearly gotten plenty of national and championship praise. As the team and coaching staff looks to work together, having the same voice in the locker room has become a major part of the team’s success.
AP Photo/Matt Slocum