Eagles’ Jalen Hurts in ‘sponge mode’ with new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore

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Eagles’ Jalen Hurts in ‘sponge mode’ with new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore

PHILADELPHIA — Jalen Hurts is once again in a phase he called “sponge mode.” It’s unusual that a quarterback of his caliber, a $255 million asset with “franchise player” status, must soak up new systems this frequently.

He’s entering his fifth NFL season with what will be his fifth offensive play caller, the continuation of a chaotic collegiate experience in which Hurts played under four different play callers across two different universities.

Lane Kiffin. Brian Daboll. Mike Locksley. Lincoln Riley.

Doug Pederson. Nick Sirianni. Shane Steichen. Brian Johnson. Kellen Moore.

Hurts says he “definitely” yearns for systemic stability. While speaking with reporters for the first time during the Philadelphia Eagles’ offseason training program, Hurts acknowledged the “constantly revolving” door of coaches he’s experienced throughout his career. Johnson was the latest door Hurts stood behind, only to be spun around the proverbial platform and spat out again.

There was a sense of stability upon Johnson’s promotion. Hurts said Johnson, who initially joined Sirianni’s staff as a quarterbacks coach in 2021, had “been a huge part of my development.” Johnson secured head-coaching interviews for the offense’s initial surge during last year’s 10-1 start, but he was eventually cut loose as the collateral within Sirianni’s search to remove the staleness from an offense that foundered during the team’s 1-6 collapse.

“I think he’s still more than capable of being a big-time head coach in this league,” Hurts said of Johnson, now the assistant head coach and passing game coordinator with the Washington Commanders. “I think he’s on the trajectory to do that still. I just didn’t think it was the right time for him.”

Will it be the right time for Moore? The former quarterback, who’s also interviewed for head-coaching vacancies with the Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina Panthers, is now an offensive coordinator with his third NFL team. He’s in charge of Philly’s completely overhauled quarterback room. Moore, last with the Chargers, brought along quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier and offensive assistant Kyle Valero.



Nick Sirianni on working with Kellen Moore: ‘It’s going to be a really good match’

Together, they’re assembling offensive adjustments that Hurts says involve “a lot” of new terminology. For now, it seems Hurts isn’t yet involved in the process of building the scheme.

“I am just in sponge mode,” Hurts said. “I’m letting them do what it is they’re going to do — and then just kind of adjust from there. I think the thing we all have to understand is the importance of a foundation in something. … I think when that foundation (isn’t) as strong as you need it to be, it may not last as long or be as good in the end. So, that’s something we don’t want to happen. I’m just trusting the process in terms of what they’re doing.”

Johnson tried to empower Hurts by equipping him with a list of checks he could use at the line of scrimmage. The execution of the system was erratic. Hurts threw for a career-high 3,858 yards and 23 touchdowns, but he also threw 15 interceptions — a substantial increase from his previous high (nine in 2021).

Often, the offensive dissonance involved mishandling the blitz. It will be notable how Moore eventually decides to divvy up the pre-snap responsibilities between Hurts and Cam Jurgens, who is expected to replace Jason Kelce at center.

“I’m just being a player, trying to learn as much as I can,” Hurts said. “I think the one thing individually as a player I’ve always had a desire for is just growth and development. I think that’s allowed me to have the opportunities I’ve had now. Being here in this place, being able to continue and grow over the years in my career. So, that’s what I desire to do. I’m excited to have the opportunity to do that with our coaches.”

(Photo: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images)