Change is upon Philadelphia
The uncertainty and uneasiness of the Eagles franchise is now in new coach Nick Sirianni’s hands. The former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator finds himself taking over the Eagles, succeeding the only Super Bowl-winning coach in Eagles history. He will have to deal with the side effects of the previous organizational dysfunction. Easy enough, right?
Sirianni will be walking through a valley of mystery, where he will have the ultimate task that determines the future of his job, the city, and the team: fixing Carson Wentz…if that is even possible.
Out of all the remaining candidates, Sirianni has the best chance to fix Wentz. He has experience in helping players return to their form on multiple occasions throughout his time in the NFL.
That started in 2013. Sirianni got a job as the offensive quality control coach with the then San Diego Chargers. Phillip Rivers was coming off two seasons where he had a combined 35 INTs and 21 fumbles. Not the best. Many had begun to wonder if Rivers just had a severe decline, akin to Wentz’s dropoff. Following his struggles, Chargers went in a new direction, which included Sirianni’s hiring. When he stepped in, it seemed Rivers found his footing again and won Comeback Player of the Year in 2013. While he was not the only new coach introduced, his impact was felt immediately. Rivers had substantial improvements in his mechanics and decision-making. Because of this, the following season, he was promoted to quarterback coach. His presence got recognized.
The 2 seasons before Sirianni (11’-12’):
8230 pass yards, 53 passing TDs, 35 INTs, 21 fumbles, 88.7 passer rating with a record 15-17-0, and one game-winning drive
Sirianni’s first 2 seasons (13’-14’):
8764 pass yards, 63 passing TDs, 29 INTs, 11 fumbles, 99.5 passer rating with a record of 18-14-0, and seven game-winning drives.
Shortly after that, Sirianni switched to become a wide receiver coach. At the same time, Keenan Allen tore his ACL. Sirianni worked with Allen throughout his recovery process; not only did Allen get back to his elite status, but his game was taken to the next level.
That following season, Keenan Allen had a career-high 1,393 receiving yards (3rd in the league), with 102 receptions (4th in the league) and 6 TDs to go along with it. His level of play also brought him a Comeback Player of the Year award.
The third specific instance occurs the next season. This was when Sirianni got the coordinator job in Indianapolis. Andrew Luck had been coming off 3 seasons where he played a total of 22 games, and was often injured or performed poorly.
But once again, Sirianni contributed to a Comeback Player of the Year season, and Luck had one of the best seasons of his career.
Fixing players is nothing new for Nick Sirianni. Sirianni has all the experience from injured players to QBs with bad mechanics. He is the perfect “Wentz Whisperer.”
Yet, one specific problem that remains in the minds of some Eagles fans.
Is Nick Sirianni a yes-man?
In NFL coaching terms, a yes-man is someone who does what the ownership/front office wants them to do. No impactful decisions rest in their own hands. He goes out there and coaches his players, talks to the media… but that is about it.
The notion that Sirianni will be a yes-man came about purely because of his hiring. Sirianni was a surprise to many fans. Seemingly out of the blue, the Eagles hired the mysterious coordinator from Indianapolis.
His interview had to be impressive. The conclusion was drawn from this alone. Yes-men are also typically young coaches who are looking for opportunity, not necessarily total control.
If the Eagles did hire a yes-man, they will be stuck in mediocrity for years to come. The mistakes from the front office will just persist. It is not like Roseman will change his ways all of sudden.
This will not bode well for the future of this team. The Eagles’ next two seasons will be very telling. Failure seems like the likely outcome unless something is done with those who handle player personnel.
Some may argue that Sirianni has been able to choose most of his coaching staff, but Jeffrey Lurie is still sold on Wentz and Roseman. The depressing reality of that is if neither is fixed or dished, the Eagles will simply become the next Cleveland Browns: years of failure for a long, unbearable time.
Another skill of Sirianni’s is his ability to connect with his players. His mentor, former Eagles offensive coordinator and now Colts head coach, has said this is his greatest attribute. This could a huge detriment.
If Sirianni can make his connection early on but is also a yes-man, the team will get nothing done. Any order from his higher-ups will continuously be thought of as less and less controversial, reigniting the previous tensions seen in Week 17.
The uncertainty long term is cause for severe concern. The Sirianni era will start with a blessed bliss or a downward dive into NFL mediocrity.