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Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts are inseparable as NFL coach of the year and MVP

Hurts' case for MVP is self-evident, and Sirianni should join him in being awarded.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts talks with coach Nick Sirianni during victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 9.
Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts talks with coach Nick Sirianni during victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 9.Read moreDavid Maialetti / Staff Photographer

It has happened six times in 40 years.

Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts should make it a seventh.

Coach of the year. Most Valuable Player.

How can you pick one and not the other?

History says that when the Associated Press tallies up its votes for its quasi-official year-end awards, someone other than Sirianni will get the nod for the game’s best coaching performance during the 2022 season. While each of the last 13 MVP awards have gone to quarterbacks, only twice in that stretch has the same team’s coach been honored. In 2019, John Harbaugh got the nod alongside Lamar Jackson. In 2015, Ron Rivera and Cam Newton both took home the trophies.

» READ MORE: Jalen Hurts becomes betting favorite to win NFL MVP after dominant Giants win

Three other coach/quarterback pairs have earned the distinction since 1983. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in 2007 and 2010. Dick Vermeil and Kurt Warner in 1999. Joe Gibbs and Joe Theismann in 1983. In 1982, a kicker won MVP, so we’ll stop rewinding there.

Six times in 40 seasons. That’s a remarkable thing. The symbiosis between coach and quarterback has been well enough established to border on cliché. There is nothing like it in organized team sports. This is particularly evident at the extreme ends of the spectrum, where success and failure are almost always package deals. Yet when it comes to doling out credit, we more often than not pick one or the other. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, Sean Payton and Drew Brees, Brett Favre and Mike Holmgren, Joe Montana and Bill Walsh — none of those pairings has swept coach/MVP honors.

Hurts and Sirianni may not yet have earned a permanent place among those duos, but they’ve more than earned the hardware in 2022. Frankly, few pairings in NFL history have demonstrated a coach-quarterback co-dependency like the one that has the Eagles sitting on the doorstep of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. It probably isn’t a coincidence that the last two duos to sweep the honors both included a quarterback with a skill set similar to Hurts’. Like the Eagles in 2022, the success that the Panthers and Ravens enjoyed in 2015 and 2019 both required coaches who were willing to forget everything they thought they knew about the position.

I suppose that this is mostly an argument in favor of Sirianni. It would be a waste of space to spend too much time trying to make the case for Hurts as MVP. At this point, it is as self-evident as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For those reading this online, I’d encourage you to check out E.J. Smith’s breakdown from a few days ago. Newton and Jackson both play a prominent role.

Frankly, Hurts might earn himself consideration based on his rushing numbers alone. Right now, he’s on pace to become the 17th player in the last 13 seasons to score 12 rushing touchdowns while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. That’s at any position, with Newton the only quarterback (in 2011). The same is true with his production as a passer. Hurts ranks in the top 10 in passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. He ranks 10th in passing yards and 21st in rushing yards. He ranks third in yards-per-pass-attempt and 15th in yards-per-rush-attempt.

» READ MORE: Handicapping Jalen Hurts’ MVP chances

But you have to dive a lot deeper to see where Hurts truly distances himself from the competition. It’s also where he becomes inseparable from Sirianni.

The Eagles are where they are because of their situational excellence. Conversions and touchdowns. Third and fourth down and the red zone. In Hurts, they have a cheat code. In Sirianni, they have a coach who always seems to press the buttons at the right time.

Through 13 games, the Eagles are already one of only seven teams to convert at least 19 fourth downs in a season. At their current pace, they’d finish this year with 24 conversions, the most of any team for as long as has data.

The raw number is only half the story. The Eagles have also failed to convert on only six of their 25 attempts. In fact, only three other teams in history have finished a season with a better mark on 20-plus attempts.

1. 2006 Patriots (80.0)

2. 2008 Patriots (77.3)

3. 2020 Raiders (76.2)

4. 2022 Eagles (76.0)

For what’s it’s worth, the Eagles’ 25 attempts are more than any of those three teams had in their respective seasons.

Same goes for third down, where their 46.4% conversion percentage ranks fourth in the league. Combine that with their fourth-down success rate, and it almost isn’t fair. The result is a team that has been off-the-charts efficient. The Eagles have scored on 44% of their drives, which ranks fourth in the NFL. They’ve scored a touchdown on 74% of their trips to the red zone, better than all but one team (the Lions). Their 10 turnovers are the fewest in the league. They rank in the top third in fewest penalty yards.

They are a machine right now, more unstoppable in must-have situations than any other team in the league. Their 136 first downs lead the league. The Eagles are on pace to finish with the second-highest total of rushing first downs in a season since 1999. Hurts has 59 of them, more than any player in the NFL except Raiders running back Josh Jacobs.

This was the sort of success that Sirianni envisioned when he relinquished play-calling duties this offseason. It was the sort of success he knew the Eagles were capable of with a talent like Hurts under center.

Plenty of others deserve credit. Howie Roseman for recognizing the value that A.J. Brown would be. The offensive line for allowing Hurts to consistently stand tall. Give them all awards, too. But you don’t get to 12-1 with this level of ease without a quarterback who is a difference-maker and a coach who can harness that ability. Right now, the Eagles have the best in the league at both.

Inquirer Eagles beat reporter Josh Tolentino and columnist Mike Sielski preview the team’s Week 15 game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Watch at