Who Is Most To Blame For Eagles Inconsistent Offense This Year?
Even though the Philadelphia Eagles are 5-1 on the season, there are questions about the state of the offense after Sunday's loss to the New York Jets. The Eagles committed four turnovers versus a Jets Defense without two of the starters in their secondary. So should we be concerned about the state of the Eagles Offense or was Sunday just a "bad day at the office"?
On the surface, this year's Eagles Offense looks less explosive and more inconsistent compared to last season. The 2022 Philadelphia Offensive Coordinator was Shane Steichen and this season he is now the Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Under his Play-Calling, last year's offense finished the season as the third-best scoring team in the NFL (28.1 Points Per Game) and Jalen Hurts finished the year as the runner-up in the NFL MVP Voting. Remember, Steichen started calling plays in 2021 when he was handed the full-time responsibilities by Head Coach Nick Sirianni.
For the 2023 NFL season, the Eagles new Offensive Coordinator is Brian Johnson, who was previously Philadelphia's Quarterbacks Coach from 2021-2022 after coaching in college. Before joining Nick Sirianni's staff, Johnson was an Offensive Coordinator at the University of Florida, University of Houston, and University of Utah. He also has personally known Jalen Hurts since he was a kid when Johnson was at Robert E. Lee High School and Jalen's Dad, Averion Hurts, was coaching there.
Here is an overview comparing the 2022 and 2023 Eagles Offenses through the first 6 games of each season:
*2022 Eagles: 26.83 Points Per Game, 2,367 Total Yards, 2 Turnovers
*2023 Eagles: 25.8 Points Per Game, 2,370 Total Yards, 9 Turnovers
So the only quantifiable difference between last year's Eagles and this season's offense is the Turnovers. The 2022 Eagles finished the season top five in the NFL in Turnover Ratio (+8) while the 2023 Eagles have a negative Turnover Ratio (-1). But is that really Brian Johnson's fault or could Shane Steichen have made a difference? For reference, Shane Steichen's Indianapolis Colts' Offense has one less Turnover than the Eagles this season (8). The 2022 Eagles were 1-2 when the Offense committed three or more Turnovers in a game (Losses to Washington and Dallas).
The only other statistical difference when comparing the 2022 and 2023 Eagles Offenses is the number of big plays. The Athletic's Mike Sando wrote the following:
"Explosive passing is down through most of the league, including for the Eagles. They are gaining more than 15 yards on just 11 percent of pass plays, down from 21 percent through six games last season and 19 percent for 2022 overall."
Eagles All-Pro Center stated on his New Heights Show Podcast that opposing defenses are game-planning to prevent the Eagles Offense from making big plays. So who is to blame for the lack of counter-adjustments by the Philadelphia Offense in response to how teams are playing the Eagles? Was Shane Steichen better at in-game adjustments than Brian Johnson or does some of this responsibility fall on Head Coach Nick Sirianni? I could make an argument for "all of the above" but at the end of the day, this all falls on the Head Coach's shoulders and Sirianni needs his team's offense recalibrated to execute better.
Now let us review how the Quarterback Jalen Hurts has performed, comparing the 2022 and 2023 seasons' first six games for the now 25-year-old Quarterback:
*2022 Season: 6 Touchdowns, 2 Interceptions, 66.85 Completion Percentage, 98.4 Quarterback Rating, Six Rushing Touchdowns, 1,514 Passing Yards
*2023 Season: 7 Touchdowns, 7 Interceptions, 66.2 Completion Percentage, 84.7 Quarterback Rating, Five Rushing Touchdowns, 1,542 Passing Yards
The only measurable difference we see for Hurts the last two seasons is the increase in turnovers and the lower Quarterback Rating. According to Pro Football Reference, Hurts has a lower percentage of "Poor Throws" this season (12.9% versus 14.2% in 2022) but also has a lower percentage of On-Target Throws Per Attempt (60.7% versus 77.8% in 2022).
My conclusion is that while the tangible numbers show the Eagles' Offense is producing at almost the same level this season compared to last year, Jalen Hurts has obviously struggled at times this season. The Lane Johnson Injury against the Jets had a major negative impact on Philadelphia's Offense and the Eagles seemed to never make the right adjustments. I point the find at Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson's play-calling and Head Coach Nick Sirianni's failure to make adjustments as to why this team is executing such a sloppy form of Football. Johnson seems to be learning on the job more than I expected coming into the season while Sirianni seems to trust in his coaches too much when he should be more assertive about in-game adjustments.
There's no guarantee that anything would specifically be better if Shane Steichen was still coaching the Eagles' Offense, the Colts have the 11th Best Scoring Offense in the NFL playing two different Quarterbacks through his team's first six games. Philadelphia has only scored 15 more points this season than the Colts and Philadelphia's defense has played considerably better than Indianapolis. The Eagles have 5 wins in large part thanks to Kicker Jake Elliott and the Eagles Defense. It is time for the Eagles Offense to clean up their inconsistencies and play better football moving forward, a responsibility that falls on the shoulders of Nick Sirianni and Brian Johnson.
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Gallery Credit: Mike Gill