Given the opportunity to examine the internal workings of the coaching staff, Head Coach Nick Sirianni has clear goals for his 2-4 Eagles looking forward, one of which includes continued growth for an offense that has shown anticipated fits and starts with a quarterback who has made 10 career starts, an offensive line that has had four different starting combinations, and skill-position players still learning their way around the NFL.
Within that, the intention is to find out what is the staple of the offense, the bread and butter for an explosive group of players that has been just that at times through six games, along with moments where penalties and missed chances set the team back.
Who are the Eagles on offense? Who are they going to be as the year progresses? It's something Sirianni spent some time over the weekend examining.
"When you've struggled the way we've struggled the last two weeks, it's like – that's the question you ask yourself every time, what is our identity, what do we need to do? Those are conversations that we're obviously having as an offensive staff," Sirianni said. "Now, it's not like when you first got here, we're like, 'OK, here's where we are, let's figure out what we can do.' We have strong convictions and strong feels of what we think it is. Now, do we know 100 percent what our identity is? No. I don't actually think anybody in the NFL knows 100 percent what their identity is right now in game 6. I think you're still building – even the teams that have been together for a long time, I don't think – pieces change year in and year out. That's probably a little less, but again, you're growing every day and you're building every day to find out exactly who you are.
"Do we know a heck of a lot more than what we knew Week 1? Of course. Do we know a heck of a lot more than what we knew Week 4? Of course. We are getting to those things. We didn't play well the last two weeks, so I know how it can look. I get it, guys. It could look like, 'Hey, they don't know what their identity is.' We are growing, we are finding it out more and more each week, and obviously we're accelerating that as much as we possibly can to put our guys in the best position we possibly can put them in."
From his first day as head coach, Sirianni has talked about building the offense around the talents of his players, starting with quarterback Jalen Hurts and his multidimensional skills. At times – in Atlanta, early against San Francisco, in the second half at Dallas, throughout the loss to Kansas City, in the fourth quarter at Carolina, and in spots on Thursday night in the loss to Tampa Bay – the offense has moved the ball and sustained drives and put points on the board. But there have been other times when the inconsistencies have been deadly.
Rough spots were expected for a team with so many new pieces in place. While Sirianni looks at the coaching staff and is self-critical on that end, Hurts places a lot of the burden on his shoulders.
"I don't want to make excuses for anything," Hurts said after Thursday's 28-22 loss to the Bucs. "I know I hold myself to a high standard of play and I am trying to go out there and play at a high level for the guys around me. We all do that. We all have that mentality to go out there and play together and have each other's backs. You look at this game and this past game that we played in and we started off slow. This whole year, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot and we know, and we believe. I have unwavering faith in the guys on this football team and everybody on this field and that we have everything we need. It is just a matter of us putting that together. It is tough but I have unwavering faith with everyone in this building and that it will come. To go toe-to-toe with a team like that, as bad as I started. It is bad and we didn't click early. When it came down to clutch time, at the end of the game, we ran out of time.
"I think this offense is executing well enough. I think I haven't executed well enough to win clearly. I take responsibility for that. I always take responsibility for that because the ball is in my hands every play and I enjoy that and I like that. I have to be better."
In the six outings, Hurts has completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,480 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions, compiling a passer rating of 88.6. He has also been a force running the football, gaining 300 yards (second among all quarterbacks to Baltimore's Lamar Jackson) and scoring five touchdowns on 53 attempts. The numbers the last two weeks, though, have not been anywhere near where the Eagles want them to be – Hurts was 22-of-37 for 198 yards and an interception in the comeback win at Carolina and then he completed just 12-of-26 passes for 115 yards with one touchdown and one interception on Thursday night. In that game, the Eagles went 75 yards to put the ball in the end zone on their first drive, but managed just one first down on their next six offensive possessions.
Inconsistency kills. That's what Sirianni and his staff want to improve. Along with that, an identity will be forged, and the growing pains will ease. Who are the Eagles on offense? What do they do well? What can they build on for the rest of the season?
The clock is ticking now as the Eagles prepare for the Raiders on Sunday. The goal is to show consistency and to move toward consistency in performance, and along with that form a personality with an offense that has shown a lot of good things at times through six games, but not enough to satisfy anyone on that side of the ball.