Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury has a lot in common with his counterpart Sunday, Eagles mentor Nick Sirianni.
Both Kingsbury, 43, and Sirianni, 41, are part of a new breed of NFL offensive coaches, and both have rising stars at the quarterback position who started out as standouts in high school at Texas before becoming college stars under Lincoln Riley at the University. from Oklahoma State, but only after transferring (Texas A&M’s Kyler Murray) and Alabama’s Jalen Hurts).
“I remember Riley hurting me,” he said of Hurts. .
“He was just talking about Riley and everything he was doing with the offense. He asked me a few questions, but never criticized me for my decision to go to OU. I think it was more of a humblebrag. type of thing.”
Murray was a high school star in the Dallas area, while Hurts was a standout in the Houston area in South Texas.
“I’ve always had a lot of respect for Kyler since he was in high school,” Hurts said. “Texas is a really big state and it’s a football state. This is it. I always remember him doing his thing in DFW in Allen [High School].
“He won every game he played in high school. That’s very impressive and he was able to do great things in his collegiate career at OU, he won the Heisman, now he’s off to a great start in his career, he’s done great things, so I have a lot of respect for him “.
Kingsbury, meanwhile, got off to a slightly better start than Sirianni as an NFL head coach, starting with the Cardinals in 2019 before agreeing to become the new offensive coordinator at Southern Cal after a six-year stint as the head coach at Texas. Tech.
The goal was to combine Kingbury’s offensive approach with Murray, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft.
Things took a turn for the start of the 2021 season when Arizona became the 2022 Eagles, the NFL’s last undefeated team.
A 7-0 start ended with an 11-6 finish and a one-and-done playoff run at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams.
Sirianni, of course, made a tough playoff run in his rookie season as head coach, finishing 9-8 with the Eagles, where Hurts slowly developed as a starter for the first time before his own playoff market correction in the form of Tom Brady and Tampa. Bay Buccaneers.
Fast forward to Week 5 of the 2022 season, and the Eagles (4-0) came out as the all-around improved team (No. 2 on offense and No. 3 on defense) with an MVP candidate in Hurts while the Cards (2) were. -2) we battled through injury, personnel losses, and a PED suspension for star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, all to give Murray a 5-year, $230.5 million contract extension.
Philadelphia will have to change some recent history to make sure its trajectory is upward and the Cardinals fall below .500, namely Kingsbury’s perfect 6-0 record against NFC East teams and the fact that the Eagles have never won at State Farm Stadium ( 0- 4).
“I hope it didn’t hurt us, but we haven’t won at home in a while, so maybe that kind of game will be canceled,” Kingsbury joked when talking about those numbers.
Kingsbury, Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen were impressed with what Hurts was able to do with Hurts, who was second in the NFL in total offense (1,325 yards) behind Buffalo’s Josh Allen and produced more explosive plays (35) than anyone else. else.
“It’s been huge,” he said. “I think so [Sirianni] and Shane Steichen builds it around Jalen and obviously brings in big pieces, but then in a way where they fit his skill set and really maximize it.
“You have Shane Steichen coaching (Chargers QB Justin) Herbert as a rookie in a monster year and then playing in completely different systems with (Former QB) Phillip Rivers.
“Coming in, adjusting to that, building and continuing to evolve with Jalen — it’s been impressive to watch. “The culture, you can tell those guys are having fun and they’re playing hard for him, so Nick has done a great job there.”