NFL insider notes: Eagles think Jalen Hurts is the answer, and Bruce Arians is out on his terms

You have to be careful and diligent about giving too much weight to what is said in press conferences at this time of year, in particular. But spending time with Eagles coach Nick Sirianni during his media briefing at the just-concluded NFL owners’ meetings, I came away convinced he’s all in to see if Jalen Hurts may be the team’s long-term solution at quarterback.

It was already a very revealing offseason for the Eagles. They’re loaded with three first-round picks, and the ultra-aggressive front office, led by general manager Howie Roseman, has never really gotten involved in any of the myriad QB chases that have dominated this offseason in the league. Deshaun Watson was never in play due to the voluminous allegations of sexual assault or misconduct against him, and many more were not seen as a significant improvement. In general, the mood around the team – which navigated a formidable defensive line and dominant running game to a surprising playoff berth during Sirianni’s rookie season as head coach – has been that this year 2022 would be all about building around Hurts, giving him as much as possible to succeed, then weighing their options later if necessary.

“I couldn’t be more excited about Jalen Hurts,” Sirianni said, gushing but extremely sincere, “the type of player he is and the type of person he is. … He knows he’s our guy. and we show it to him with our actions day by day.”

Pretty solid stuff.

The best I can still say, probing around, is that they were very keen on leaning into the young quarterback, adding some talent and being better able to assess him long term from here the end of this season. And that very much seems to be the case. He’s not the most conventional quarterback, but he’s driven and dedicated and his teammates love him and his leadership and love of the game shines through. If that doesn’t work out, for whatever reason, the 2023 quarterback draft class is already getting rave reviews. But I certainly wouldn’t rule out Hurts being promising enough to stay as this coaching staff continues to learn more about him and put him in the best position to shine.

Arians came out on his terms

Kudos to former Bucs coach Bruce Arians, who made the transition to a much less stressful and demanding front office role this week. Arians overcame significant health issues to return to the sidelines and punctuated his unique and distinguished coaching career with a Lombardi Trophy in Tom Brady’s first year with the team.

Even before this Super Bowl, after the 2020 season, there were loud whispers among those in the coaching fraternity who know the Arians best that he might choose to retire at some point before 2021, with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles ready to take over. It would have surprised few people if BA then chose to move on to a new role. He ended up trying to win back-to-back trophies, before announcing his decision to his players, and to the world, on Wednesday night.

The Bucs are in good hands with Bowles at the helm – it’s a shame he hasn’t been hired elsewhere as a head coach in recent years, frankly – with Byron Leftwich and Brady still in place in attack . The indelible imprints of Arians remain all over the roster, the coaching staff and the style of play. I don’t expect much change, with Arians free to enjoy his afternoons more fully now, but still a essential in the facilities of the team. The coach who takes full advantage of life, and who knows how to have fun, will now have more time to do so.

The Glazer family could not have hoped for more than what their tenure offered them. The Bucs remain one of the best teams in the NFC. Brady, most likely, will be vying for another MVP. The Arians might just end up with another ring, anyway.

Arthur Smith was waiting for Brady’s return

At least one of the Buccaneers’ NFC South foes never believed there was a chance he would face this team without Tom Brady on the roster. Falcons coach Arthur Smith was adamant that THE GOAT wasn’t going anywhere – no matter how many retirement statements were made on social media and the like.

Smith took that approach entering the NFL Scouting Combine — when Brady was traveling with his family and the Bucs were evaluating potential quarterbacks in that draft and free agent and trade options to possibly replace him — and says that he never hesitated. Never passed his sniff test. He knew Brady would be back (much to the chagrin of the rest of the NFC).

“I never thought he retired,” Smith said. “He was playing at a high level. … Tom is playing as well as anyone in the league. I think I said that at the combine.”

So the Falcons, at least, never considered a 2022 season draft without Brady. And, as someone who enjoys quarterbacking at the highest level, Smith said he thinks it’s for everyone’s good that Brady doesn’t walk away from the game while still producing at such an elite level.

“You want to compete with the best,” Smith said. “You want the best players. It’s good for the game.”

Alright, but be careful what you wish for. Tampa is going to have this top seed in its sights and can stack wins against much of the rest of this division. Maybe not with Kyle Trask; certainly with Brady.

McVay sees Dolphins offense take off under McDaniel

The Sean McVay/Kyle Shanahan coaching family tree continues to take on new roots, as former assistants join the head coaching ranks at a rapid pace. I’ve been very impressed with every meeting I’ve had with new Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell, who has a chance to win right away in a watered-down NFC, and while Mike McDaniel faces a more intimidating glove in the loaded AFC. , I really like the additions made by the Dolphins and I think they can improve quickly.

McDaniel spent much of his career under Shanahan, but worked with McVay and Shanahan in Washington early in his tenure, and the Super Bowl-winning head coach has watched what Miami has done so far (in especially moves that should immediately energize a lethargic long-running game) up close.

“There’s a really clear vision there,” McVay said of Miami’s moves to improve the offensive line and add top speed in skill position clusters. Consider him optimistic about the Dolphins’ offense transformation in 2022.

“It’s going to be fun to watch the Dolphins offense work with him,” McVay said.

More Insider Notes

  • Kirk Cousins ​​is going to be a fantasy football monster this season. The Vikings have plenty of key pieces on offense, an improving offensive line and what could be a formidable passing duo on defense. This is more than a good starting point for this conference. Former coach Mike Zimmer has become a subject of scorn in this building, and Kevin O’Connell’s energetic and overwhelmingly positive mentality will have a huge impact there. And, again, unlike many NFCs, they have players. “There’s no doubt that there are some very good elements in place,” O’Connell said. Sounds like a playoff team to me.
  • Was another turbulent offseason for the Washington Commanders, with off-field issues and ugly allegations against owner Daniel Snyder continuing to cloud the franchise. Convincing top talent in the open market to join this long-dysfunctional team isn’t easy — even under new management — and the days of Snyder scrubbing other offers to entice free agents to come over there are over. “We try to make people understand, why not come to us? said coach Ron Rivera. “We’ve got a solid offensive line, 1,000 yard running back, 1,000 yard wide receiver. We’re trying to get people to understand there’s an opportunity to be successful here.” I’m going to have to re-sign dominating receiver Terry McLaurin to stick around to possibly woo the others out there, and with receiver salaries going crazy this month, that challenge has only gone away. ‘intensify. This negotiation is massive for the organization.
  • The Steelers clearly don’t have a quarterback equipped to match the abundance of transformational QBs now stacked in the AFC. But, true to form, coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t blink. “I like the challenge, to be completely honest with you,” Tomlin said. “That makes this game great.”
  • Was super impressed listening to new Giants coach Brian Daboll talk about the human element of his game, being aware of putting himself in the shoes of young players in this game and his evolution as a leader after having spent time coaching in Alabama. For all X’s and O’s, Daboll thinks “empathy” is as important as any coaching trait. The Giants may have finally found the guy to pull them out of the doldrums.

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