Down 14-0 on Sunday, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni faced a choice on fourth-and-goal from Jacksonville’s 3-yard line.
Instead of attempting a field goal to just get points on the board, Sirianni elected to go for it.
When quarterback Jalen Hurts couldn’t find anyone open on the passing play, he darted up the middle of the field, lowered his shoulder, and put the ball across the goal line for a touchdown.
It was one of five times the Eagles elected to go for it on fourth down on Sunday, converting three of them. On Monday, Sirianni said those situations are all about trust — particularly the trust he has in his quarterback.
“The very first thing of why we go for it on fourth down, or why we went for it on fourth down yesterday, I trust our guys,” head coach Nick Sirianni said, via Dave Zangaro of NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com. “Who do you trust? I trust Jalen to make the right decisions with the football. I trust Jalen if it’s a pass. I trust Jalen that if it’s a run that he creates an extra gap for the defense.
“I trust the heck out of our offensive line and I trust our guys on the perimeter to make a play with the football in their hands. I trust our defense if we don’t get it that they’re going to get a stop.
“That’s a big part of it. You heard the first guy I mentioned, right? I trust Jalen. I trust Jalen. I trust Jalen, right, because he’s going to be touching the ball every single time.”
Hurts has given Sirianni plenty of reason to trust him. Through four games in 2022, the quarterback is completing 67 percent of his passes for 1,120 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s leading the league with 9.1 yards per attempt — nearly two full yards over what he averaged last year. And Hurts has rushed for 205 yards with four TDs.
So, Sirianni is going to continue to be aggressive on fourth down with his quarterback. So far, the team is 7-of-11 on fourth down in 2022.
“I think trust grows as your relationship grows, as your reps with each other grow,” Sirianni said. “I think that’s like any relationship. Your trust grows based off of past experiences. I think I said this to somebody earlier today, it’s not just a blind trust. It’s not a blind faith. It’s reps built up, it’s built-up trust. Obviously, when I say it like that, it is, it’s built up over the past year because he just continues to make the plays necessary when they need to be made.
“Does that mean we’re going to be 100 percent in those scenarios? No. We were, what, 60 percent yesterday, right? But I still have that trust in him, and of course that is built through practice, that’s built through the reps you have at practice, that’s built through the reps you’ve had together in games, and that’s built through the conversations that you have throughout the week and throughout the months and throughout the years that you have together.”