PHILADELPHIA - One of the most striking elements about the Philadelphia Eagles’ dominant season-opening victory was how well first-year coach Nick Sirianni catered his offensive concepts to the skill set of quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Hurts, always dangerous as a runner, completed 52% of his passes with a passer rating of 77.6 as a rookie last season under former coach Doug Pederson. Against Atlanta, Hurts was in complete control, completing 77.1% of his passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns. He compiled a 126.4 passer rating and gained 62 yards on seven carries, several of them designed runs.
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Sirianni said the key to making Hurts a more efficient passer wasn’t any technical adjustment. Rather, it was making sure Hurts was comfortable and confident in what he was being asked to do.
"That’s just getting the reps of the plays that we know we’re going to run," Sirianni said Wednesday as the Eagles prepared for Sunday’s home opener against San Francisco 49ers (1-0). "We feel confident that he’s read a lot of these (defensive) things multiple times throughout camp.
"You want to make sure they know what to do, with your base plays, they know what to do versus every look. ... What’s important to me is, ‘Hey, where are you going versus this look? Where are you going versus this look? Where are you going when you think it’s this look but then it turns into (a different) look,’ right?"
Hurts, who spoke to reporters after Sirianni, said "the whole entire game is about being on the same page and communicating — knowing what we’re trying to do, know(ing) how to do it, and going out there and executing."
Hurts isn’t satisfied with one excellent performance.
"I look at it and I say, ‘Just continue to grow. Continue to grow.’ ... That motto will never change," he said.
Sirianni referred to his former Mount Union coach, Larry Keheres, instilling in him the importance of fitting schemes around players’ skills.
"Before you think about scheme, it’s all about the players," Sirianni said, referring to Keheres’ teaching style. "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."
Hurts has permission to audible at the line of scrimmage but he’d have to call a variation of the original play.
"Nothing is extreme, so it’s not like, ‘Just go do everything you need to do,’" Sirianni said. "There’s flexibility, but the flexibility changes based off the play, based off the look."
Hurts’ impressive performance in the opener led more people to buy his No. 1 jersey. The Fanatics sports apparel company announced that Hurts' jersey rocketed to No. 2 overall in NFL sales, up 500% from the previous week.
"It’s all love," Hurts said. "I want to continue to give ‘em a reason to wear it."