How Eagles stripped Nick Sirianni's power and gave it to Jalen Hurts in offseason upheaval

PHILADELPHIA − We're about to find out who wields the power with the Eagles, and it's looking more and more like that dynamic is shifting dramatically.

It was evident in every somber answer from a glum Nick Sirianni on Wednesday that it's not going to be the head coach as much as the $255 million quarterback in Jalen Hurts.

And really, that's how it should be.

After all, everything the Eagles do this offseason should be about maximizing Hurts' talent. So it was somewhat telling when Sirianni said the offense "got a little bit stale" during the Eagles' 1-6 collapse to end the season, and that offensive coordinator Brian Johnson was the one who took the fall.

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It couldn't have been easy for Hurts to accept Johnson losing his job. We all know how Hurts has known Johnson since Hurts was 4 years old and Johnson was playing quarterback for Hurts' father in high school.

And especially after Sirianni admitted last month that criticism of Johnson was "unfair" because Johnson was running Sirianni's offense.

Guess what? It won't be Sirianni's offense for much longer. The Eagles are about to hire a new offensive coordinator, and even Sirianni admitted that person will bring "fresh ideas and doing some things differently."

"That scheme has to be something that our players can function and our quarterback is going to excel at," Sirianni said. "You want there to be comfort with Jalen and whoever is this new coordinator."

Then Sirianni added this: "(Hurts) is our guy, and it's really important that those two guys are going to work hand-in-hand to make sure we're getting back to where we need to be."

Sirianni was then asked what his role is going to be if the offensive coordinator is going to run the offense the way the defensive coordinator runs the Eagles defense: “The head coach of the football team.”

The Eagles are reportedly hiring Vic Fangio as the defensive coordinator. But Sirianni, long known as an offensive-minded coach, had always turned the defense over to the coordinator. He always had his hand in the offense.

Sirianni said this new arrangement will allow him the flexibility to attend some defensive meetings too.

Then general manager Howie Roseman chimed in, pushing back on the suggestion that Hurts is calling the shots.

"That's not fair also to Jalen," he said. "He's 25 years old. Jalen is continuing to grow and get better, and what we see at 25 is going to be different than 26 ... We don't ask the players to make these decisions. We don't ask the other people who work for us to make these decisions.

Philadelphia Eagles' Howie Roseman watches Nick Sirianni answer a question during a news conference at the NFL teams' practice facility, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Eagles' Howie Roseman watches Nick Sirianni answer a question during a news conference at the NFL teams' practice facility, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in Philadelphia.

"We try to get information, and we try to make the best decisions we possibly can so that the confetti can fall on our head again, and we can be world champs again because that's the only agenda."

But the Eagles need Hurts for that confetti.

Sure, Sirianni is the head coach, and he oversees everything. But it won’t be like it was. Sirianni made that clear when he explained what his season-ending meeting with Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie was like.

Sirianni began by saying it was a "normal" end-of-season meeting, like they have had after each season. But it’s safe to assume that the tenor of that meeting was much different last February coming off a Super Bowl with Hurts as the MVP runner-up, about to get that massive contract extension.

So while Sirianni said he didn't have to sell his vision to Lurie in order to keep his job, he said he approached it like he did.

"You'd better believe that I'm thinking after that 1-6 finish, after starting the way we started (10-1) ... that I'm going to prove them right again, and we're going to prove them right," Sirianni said. "We've got to reprove ourselves. We've got to go prove it again. That's how I feel right now. That's how I'm attacking this off-season."

Yet that depends on Hurts, even if Sirianni didn't want to admit that Hurts regressed from 2022, perhaps because it came in Sirianni’s offense.

But Hurts' stats across the board were down this season. That was especially true over the final seven games.

When the Eagles were 10-1, they had just beaten the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills, and Hurts was well on his way to the MVP award.

Then the Eagles collapsed. Sure, the defense played a huge role in that. The Eagles finished 30th in points allowed and 31st in passing defense. Sirianni changed defensive coordinators in Week 15, going from Sean Desai to Matt Patricia, to no avail.

Neither Desai nor Patricia will be back next season.

"We all had a bad stretch through the last portion of (the season)," Sirianni said. "In fact, there were games, like even though we were in a bad stretch as a team, I thought Jalen was playing really good football."

But clearly not good enough. Hurts threw 15 interceptions this season, as many as he had thrown in the previous two combined. He didn't run as often or as effectively, whether that was by design or by injury, or both.

And Hurts struggled against the blitz, especially in the last two games against the Giants and Buccaneers, when the Eagles lost by a combined score of 59-19.

"The one thing I do know about Jalen is when there are things of his game that he needs to improve, he goes to work and he busts his ass to do that," Sirianni said. "I said it last year a bunch: I don't know if we know what this guy's ceiling is because he's going to work and do everything that he needs to do to get better."

But like Roseman said, Hurts is still only 25 years old, and it's up to the Eagles to make sure he gets better, not worse. And it became clear that he needs a new offense, tailored to his skills, to do that.

Hurts, of course, is self-motivated to improve. The new offensive coordinator will be integral.

Sirianni knows that just as much as Hurts does.

"I’m not the same player I was when I came here as a rookie," Hurts said last week. "And not the same player I was as a second-year player and first-year starter, and not the same player I was last year.

"You have to continue to evolve, not only as a player but as a man, as a leader. These are all great responsibilities that I love."

And now Hurts has that responsibility, and Sirianni doesn’t.

Contact Martin Frank at Follow on X @Mfranknfl.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: How Eagles' offseason changes are about Jalen Hurts, not Nick Sirianni