Change is inevitable. That’s true in life. That’s true in the NFL. Raise your hand if you thought after Doug Pederson led the Philadelphia Eagles to their first Super Bowl win in franchise history that he’d be replaced not even three years later. Yep, we all saw it, and even though there are days where it feels like Nick Sirianni‘s been around forever, the truth is he actually just got here. We’re still getting to know this guy.
Philly hoisted its first (and so far its only) Vince Lombardi Trophy on the night of February 4th in 2018. Doug was out on January 11th of 2021. Sirianni became their 24th head coach 13 days later.
Change waits for no man, nor does it discriminate. That’s all the evidence you need for that one.
Perhaps the hesitancy to accept change’s existence isn’t so much about our unwillingness to submit as it is about our inability to control when it occurs and who it affects. Who knew that Doug’s promise of a ‘new norm’ wasn’t about deep playoff runs so much as it was about a substandard plateau?
Nine wins are all this team has been able to muster in two of the three seasons that followed that magical run in 2017 with Pederson pacing the sidelines. The only exception was a dreadful 4-11-1 campaign, Doug’s final season on the sideline.
Change was needed, and as you can see, it came swiftly. Nick Sirianni wasn’t the Eagles’ first choice, nor was there a ton of buzz surrounding his hiring.
Six other NFL teams hired head coaches as well: the New York Jets (Robert Salah), the Detroit Lions (Dan Campbell), the Houston Texans (David Culley), the Jacksonville Jaguars (Urban Meyer), the L.A. Chargers (Brandon Staley), and the Atlanta Falcons (Arthur Smith). Two of those teams have already replaced the men they hired.
Sirianni was the only rookie head coach to lead his team to the postseason. Philadelphia, again, won nine games, but now, there’s a bit of a buzz brewing. The questions are about what Sirianni does for an encore, and depending on who you talk to, you’re certain to get differences of opinion in terms of the answers.
Here’s what’s being said about Nick Sirianni as he enters his second season as the Eagles’ head coach.
Following an unexpected rookie season of success and a phenomenal offseason, the Birds are dealing with something they haven’t had in a while… expectations. Anything short of a double-digit winning season, a playoff appearance, and maybe one playoff win seems like a disappointment.
The Eagles are favored to win the NFC East, but they’ll look different than they did a season ago. The expectation is Jonathan Gannon will deploy, at minimum, a 3-4 defensive scheme and at maximum, multiple defensive fronts and looks to keep the opposition guessing.
Nick Sirianni will hand over playcalling duties to offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. That one’s sparked some discussion.
Recently, in a Pro Football Focus ranking on NFL head coaches, he landed at 14 in the ‘average’ tier, just ahead of Doug Pederson, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Brandon Staley, if you’re interested, cracked the list at number 12 (in the ‘good coaches’ tier).
NBC Sports Philly’s Reuben Frank, shortly before Sirianni’s announcement of delegating playcalling responsibilities, shared ten reasons as to why he believes the Eagles’ offense will be better this season. That one’s definitely worth a read as he dug deeper than the obvious theories (A.J. Brown’s addition for instance).
Still, perhaps the most intriguing storyline of the offseason from a coaching standpoint has to do with the fact that a decision has been made to forego holding a minicamp and trim back the number of practices Philly will hold.
Angelo Cataldi and Mike Lombardi questioned that idea recently on 94 WIP-FM’s Morning Show. In response to Cataldi’s question about whether or not pulling back to half the number of allowable OTAs is a wise move, Lombardi had the following to say:
"I don’t want to sound like an old-school guy, but to me, football is a sport that requires practicing, and I have yet to see a team that executed without practicing… He needs to (practice), especially when you really peel back a layer. The Eagles didn’t beat anybody last year. They made the playoffs, and that’s great, but they were behind 31-0 in a playoff game, and the six good quarterbacks they faced, there were only 36 incomplete passes."
Regardless of how you feel about him, Lombardi has a point here. There’s one way to get better in professional football, and that’s by getting on the field and competing. Remember that time Malcolm Jenkins walked into Doug’s office and told him that the Birds needed to practice and they needed to do so with pads on?
Nick Sirianni and the 2022 Eagles’ decision to do the opposite is a head-scratcher, especially seeing as how there are so many new players and conceivably a new defensive scheme to learn.
It’s hard to make this make sense, but it gets even more befuddling when you bring up something else that Lombardi said. “If Tom Brady is out there taking reps, how is Jalen Hurts not (doing the same thing)?”
In all seriousness, does anyone have an answer for that one? It’s hard to come up with one. The Los Angeles Rams won a Super Bowl, and they’re practicing. The Cincinnati Bengals were runner-ups. They’re working.
We’ll be frank. It’s hard to argue on Nick Sirianni’s behalf when he’s spent so much time telling us that he places so much emphasis on ‘competing’. Nick’s a good coach. He has the Eagles headed in the right direction. We’ll see how his approval rating looks once we begin inching closer to training camp and those three preseason games.