PHILADELPHIA – Turns out Marcus Mariota was a natural fit for the Eagles once you peeled a layer or so off the onion.
It doesn’t reach as far back as Brian Johnson’s relationship with Jalen Hurts but the Eagles’ new backup quarterback has his own longstanding relationship with Philadelphia’s new QBs coach Alex Tanney.
Tanney, 35, is only three years removed from playing in the NFL and was a teammate of Mariota in Tennessee when the latter broke into the league as the No. 2 overall pick in 2015.
The two were peers and became fast friends, so much so that Mariota, now a veteran set to turn 30 in October joked about having to call his buddy coach.
“I did tell Taney I don’t know if I can call you coach, yet,” Mariota smiled. “We have to figure that one out.”
Mariota, who signed a one-year, $5 million deal to back up Jalen Hurts, will have to figure it out quickly because Tanney is already on the fast track in an organization known for paving the path for upward mobility.
Fresh off ending his nine-year playing career with the New York Giants in 2020, Tanney got a job on Nick Sirianni’s staff as a quality control coach. He was quickly bumped up to be Johnson’s assistant with the QBs last season and given the room after Johnson was elevated to offensive coordinator after Shane Steichen left to become the head coach in Indianapolis.
Even as a rookie Mariota sensed coaching was in Tanney’s future.
“I was a young guy when we were working together and he was very influential on how I was reading certain route combinations, different patterns,” said Mariota. “‘Hey this is how I see it.’ And from early on I could tell that there was coaching in his future, and I really think that he helped me jumpstart my career pretty fast early on.”
Mariota’s best years were his early years with the Titans and Tanney helped build that foundation but he wasn’t alone. Current Eagles tight ends coach Jason Michael served as OC and QBs coach for Mariota at times.
Tanney, though, served as a sounding board for a young player who faced a ton of pressure as the perceived future face of the franchise.
“Fortunate for me, my first couple years were probably my best years and he was a part of that,” Mariota said. “So to be reunited with [Tanney] again is something that I’m really looking forward to. He’s just got a natural touch of someone who can understand the game and explain it very easily.”
Along with Tanny and Michael, Mariota also has a comfort level with special teams coordinator Michael Clay and offensive run game specialist and assistant tight ends coach T.J. Paganetti, who were at Orgeon with the Honolulu native.
“I played with Michael Clay at Oregon. T.J. Paganetti was there with me at Oregon as well,” Mariota said. “At the end of the day, I was really looking for an opportunity being part of a team that I could just enjoy playing the game that I love and the relationships I had here were very important to me.”