McMullen: Jalen Hurts’ offseason illustrates changes in NFL QB coaching


It started in March at the NFL Spring Meetings. It was light on details, but Nick Sirianni revealed that Jalen Hurts worked with personal tutors in Southern California, a sea change for the third-year player known for his prodigious work ethic.

The Eagles head coach had to tread lightly, because anyone consuming news today will quickly find that politics can be tricky.

And politics at the most local level, like the workplace between generations with different worldviews, can be as treacherous as it gets.

“He works with different people,” Sirianni told reporters in March. “I’m not going to put his business there, but he’s been working with different people in Southern California to launch.

“I’ll let you dig for more.”

So we dug.

The scenario of the dream is not difficult to imagine.

In Hurts’ exit interview after the playoff loss to Tampa in January, the Eagles’ offensive brain of Sirianni, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson offered constructive criticism that Hurts was receptive to, most notably the urgency to continue improving his lower body mechanics, which should translate to better accuracy and more confidence in the QB’s mind when he it’s about trusting what he sees.

Back and forth from there would lead to a question from Hurts about how to do it during NFL downtime and a recommendation from his bosses that was accepted.

To understand all of this, you need to understand that personal trainers have never been more important to NFL player development, as more recent collective bargaining agreements have further limited off-season work under team auspices.

It’s just something modern coaches like Sirianni have to deal with and like everything in life there are good teachers, bad teachers and everything in between.

In 2019, when the now defunct American Football Alliance was pretending to be a developmental arm of the NFL, a setup the latter had absolutely no interest in, the offensive line coach of the Eagles star Jeff Stoutland was asked about handing over his then-star pupil Jordan Mailata to coaches who weren’t necessarily pre-approved.

“I want to be able to teach players what we do and have my hands on it,” Stoutland said at the time. “The guys we have, I want to be able to have them here, coach them on our technique and our scheme and what we’re trying to do.”

The problem with that for players is that you can’t be sedentary for much of the offseason if you hope to hit your cap as a player any longer, which means NFL coaches have to trust some members of what has become a cottage industry.

Some of the most beloved tutors across the country include former Atlanta defensive end Chuck Smith, who became something of a passer guru, while Lane Johnson helped develop the Offensive Line Masterminds program in Texas with Duke Manyweather. .

The so-called “Footwork King”, Rischad Whitfield, has helped many receivers, cornerbacks and running backs to refine their games.

At quarterback are former Major League pitchers Tom House and Adam Dedeaux of the 3DQB elite quarterback training program.

Hurts, of course, usually spent a lot of downtime working with highly regarded Atlanta-based QB mentor Quincy Avery, so the switch to the left rib wasn’t just a dart throw. This was done for the sake of specificity.

House spent eight years in the big leagues with three different teams in the 1970s. He developed his second career as a professor of pitching mechanics while expanding his reach from the baseball field to the gridiron with many top quarterbacks. willing to work with him and his partners, Dedeaux, John Beck and Taylor Kelly.

The 3DQB method explains that “every delivery must be properly timed and kinematically sequenced as well as mechanically sound to be effective.” The thesis further states that “In football, many variables affect the timing, sequencing and mechanics of throwing, but there are scientific certainties that the body must achieve and achieve in order to throw both efficiently and accurately. “

Asked specifically about House, Hurts gave a clandestine response.

“I’ve worked with a number of different people,” he said.

Dedeaux is now the company’s CEO and head teacher for lack of a better term. A former NFL scouting official said he thinks Hurts likely worked closely with the former Los Angles Dodgers pitcher.

Dedeaux has already sharpened nearly half of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks, so he’s become the go-to guy in the league. Beck, meanwhile, is a former NFL quarterback who also helps QB development for 3DQB, so that’s where Hurts’ answer comes from.

“I think Jalen is trying to get his feet in sync with his vision so he can start the mechanism as he progresses through the readings and tighten up his movement a bit,” the exec explained.

Dedeaux may sound familiar to Eagles fans for his work with Carson Wentz before the QB’s 2017 run to MVP level play. Injuries and the pandemic limited Wentz’s offseason work in the years that followed. The alarm of failing mechanics without position coach John DeFilippo and continued work with Dedeaux was alarming and perhaps the co-star, along with injuries, of Wentz’s much-discussed downfall in Philadelphia.

Sirianni has explained in the past that he rates quarterbacks in four main areas — accuracy, decision-making, motor skills and arm strength — with the first two categories carrying more weight.

Clearly, Hurts ticks the off-program box with his mobility, and Sirianni has consistently noted that his sophomore starter hits the threshold for arm strength, leaving the most important traits with improvement.

Hurts was quick to say “no” when asked if anyone was messing with his throwing motion because that wasn’t the major issue initially, but just about every QB in the NFL can use l help to fine-tune the mechanics as far as the lower body is concerned.

Enter politics again.

Hurts understandably wanted to claim ownership of the plan when he spoke last week, both to protect his other guardians over the years and to ensure that a story that he was ordered to alter his typical program offseason was not beginning to develop.

“From a training approach, my young career, I always tried to find out what my way of doing was in the offseason”, explained the QB. “I’ve had the opportunity to go back to Houston, I’ve been to Dallas, I’ve been to Florida, I’ve now had the opportunity to go to California, so just the holistic approach of moving to next step as a quarterback.”

Hurts also outlined all parts of his off-season development plan.

“Whether it’s on offense, on offense management, on true attacking mastery on the pitch, in the weight room, what do I eat, how do I watch a film, creating a schedule for myself and just practicing great discipline in what I do,” he said. “I think overall it’s all been helpful no matter where I do, where I’ve stayed or who I work with. I think that’s all been good for me this offseason.

However, the field shift will always make more headlines than nutrition or working out in the gym.

“I think it was me just trying to figure out a way to do it,” Hurts explained. “I think what you have to understand is that this is all still new in the sense that I’m finding my way of doing something. The more time and experience you have in something, the better your path can be.

“I know coming out of my rookie year, I did something totally different, and then the next year I was trying to figure out how to do things in Texas. Now it’s just me. adventure to try to move to another level.”

At the Eagles’ rookie camp on Friday, however, Sirianni admitted the organization has at least tried to tip the balance in some direction when it comes to developing their most important player.

“I had quarterbacks there that I have nothing to do with it, then quarterbacks there that I have,” the coach said. “In this case, Jalen and I are working together and Brian and Shane are working together to put this together because it was something he was interested in doing and something we were interested in doing.”

The fact that Hurts is open for business when it comes to suggestions to improve his game is not lost on the Eagles.

“It was a group effort like a lot of things we do here,” Sirianni noted. “When we plan a game, it’s a group effort. It was a group effort. So, it was fun to organize that together and to be able to work to get it out in Southern California to launch.

John McMullen is a contributor and covers the Eagles and NFL for Sports Illustrated and JAKIB Media. He is also co-host of “Birds 365”, a daily streaming show covering the Eagles and the NFL and host of “Extending the Play” on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at [email protected] Follow John on Twitter here.


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