PHILADELPHIA - What were the Eagles trying to accomplish with the hiring of Nick Sirianni?
Some theories have already been debunked with the most obvious being an attempt to salvage the career of Carson Wentz in Philadelphia.
Others are still in play like trying to replicate the magic of a relative unknown in Andy Reid back in 1999 or simply defaulting to the advice of Colts head coach and former Philadelphia offensive coordinator Frank Reich.
Sirianni himself may have offered a look at the real template when discussing things with the Eagles' website.
When owner Jeffrey Lurie pulled the trigger on Sirianni, no one in the organization really knew who the 2021 quarterback would be.
Could the relationship with Wentz be salvaged?
Is Hurts the real deal as a prospect?
Is the future at No. 6 overall in the 2021 draft at the game's most important position?
So many questions.
One of the default settings in professional football is the thought to control what you can control. In this instance, the Eagles would have needed to rebuild Wentz, continue to progress with Hurts, and/or develop a rookie.
The latter two parts of that equation remain in play so the goal was to try to replicate the 2016-17 QB incubator of Doug Pederson, Reich, and John DeFilippo. The stand-ins are Sirianni, and his offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson.
Steichen, the OC with the Los Angeles Chargers for the last year and some change, was the QB coach with the Chargers from 2016-19, where he first forged his relationship with Sirianni, who had been the QB coach there the two years prior.
“He just has a unique way to be able to make things simple for the quarterback,” said Sirianni. “And we saw that last year with Justin Herbert. How he was able to take a young quarterback who’s never played a snap in the NFL and turn him into the rookie of the year. He makes the game simple for him."
Herbert, perhaps ironically, was the sixth-overall pick in the 2020 draft before throwing for 4,336 yards and 31 touchdowns with a 66.6 completion percentage, one of the best statistical seasons for a rookie in league history.
"He’s got so much passion, especially when he’s talking about that position," Sirianni said of Steichen. "As we all know, that is the most important position in all of sports. So to have his expertise in that area is going to be huge for this football team.”
That expertise might be even more important in the day-to-day job description of the position coach. In hindsight, DeFilippo's tough-nosed coaching style of Wentz cleaned up some mechanical issues that are present in every young player.
When Flip left the organization, Wentz's fundamentals regressed, something that ramped up even further in the COVID-19 virtual offseason when players were left to their own devices.
It will be Johnson's job to keep Hurts on the right track and potentially develop another young signal-caller.
The former University of Florida OC is regarded as a fast-riser in the profession who was already in the mix for head-coaching jobs at the college level. He also has a long history with Hurts, dating back to playing for Hurts' father in high school and recruiting Hurts twice, both as a four-star high school prospect and a grad transfer.
Johnson, a former QB at Utah who coached the position at his alma mater, along with Mississippi State, Houston, and Florida, doesn't have a history with Sirianni but GM Howie Roseman is a Florida graduate and is plugged into all things Gators.
“We saw a great coach and we saw a great coach by numbers,” Sirianni explained when discussing his move to hire Johnson. “You saw what he did with that offense at Florida, super impressive. What he did with that quarterback at Florida [Kyle Trask], super impressive. So excited to have Brian.
"He brings so many good ideas, he brings an element of the college game that not all of us have."
Time will tell if the Quarterback Incubator 2.0 is as impressive as the first-generation model.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM’s Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes, and every Tuesday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SBNation Radio. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.