Among the several huge talking points surrounding the Eagles this year, one that’s been mind numbing to me is the constant slander thrown at new head coach Nick Sirianni.
After every press conference, Eagles fans have taken to Twitter to bash the guy. Whether it was for the handful of blunders during his introductory presser, or the most recent instance where he revealed he challenged draft prospects to a game of rock, paper, scissors, shoot during zoom meetings to gauge how competitive they are. Every time he’s opened his mouth since becoming the Eagles head coach, he’s gotten dragged through the mud.
Is he a little quirky and excitable? For sure. Does it sound like he’s in over his head at times because of his far-from-perfect vocalization of certain things? Absolutely.
But you know what? That might be exactly what this team needs right now.
While us fans and sports media pundits tend to treat professional sports as a sacred art form, it doesn’t always have to be overly serious.
Sure, some of the best dynasties in sports carried themselves with a stoic demeanor while treating the sport like a business, like the New England Patriots of recent memory. But, “The Patriot Way” mantra wasn’t a thing until they started winning Super Bowls. And above all else, the constant business-like, no non-sense atmosphere wouldn’t have worked if their most important player, Tom Brady, didn’t buy in to that. In fact, if Drew Bledsoe never got hurt on that one faithful Sunday and Brady never got his chance to start, who knows what the legacy of the 2000s Patriots would have been.
Look at the Patriots now. Brady left because of how demanding that routine became. After spending 20 years in it, who can blame him?
The point is, if someone like Jalen Hurts or Miles Sanders, or one of the other young players the team is hoping to build around buys into Sirianni’s philosophy, what Sirianni says at press conferences will be irrelevant.
Sirianni’s overly positive attitude and excitement towards football is palpable.
We’ve all had that one class that was kind of, sort of interesting, but the teacher was so boring that learning the material was a drag, right? Well, imagine that in a football setting. Imagine sitting in a film room and having a boring, mundane coach try to teach a room of young men football concepts.
Football is a very interesting sport with a lot of nuances, but without a teacher who can relay that information effectively, the product on the field will suffer greatly.
We don’t focus nearly enough of our attention on the good things Sirianni says during his pressers. Whenever he speaks about specific aspects of the game or how he envisions coaching guys up, his excitement goes through the roof. And every time he talks strictly football, it’s obvious that he knows what he’s talking about.
During Wednesday’s presser, he spoke a bit about how he evaluates receivers coming from college to the NFL, and what kind of traits he looks for in his wideouts. “It’s just a matter of if that guy can do what you want and if that person can do it on the outside,” Sirianni said. “When you say X, can he win one-on-one matchups consistently? Who can win the one-on-one matchup consistently so the quarterback can take the ball, go one, two, three, four, five, and the ball is out, meaning everyone is better in front of him, and he’s better because it’s just one on one out there.”
He continued by talking about how size isn’t necessarily a defining factor on a wide receivers placement in the formation, whether that’s in the slot, or at the Z/X spot. “It looks different across the league,” Sirianni said. “Antonio Brown has been that X, Julio Jones has been that X, and Odell Beckham Jr. has been that X. These guys come in different shapes and sizes. The question is if they can win consistently one on one.”
Based on what we’ve heard from guys who’ve played under Sirianni, he’s a great teacher of the game. When speaking with Rob Maaddi of The Associated Press, former Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett went into detail on how Sirianni flourishes as a coach. “Nick is going to teach him,” Brissett said when speaking about Sirianni’s relationship with Hurts. “Nick is a great teacher … He knows how to get his information through to the player so that the player understands it. I think that’ll be the best thing for Jalen and any quarterback that’s playing (for) him.”
At the end of the day, if Sirianni’s teaching his players effectively, that’s all that matters. If his excitability keeps their interest and keeps them engaged, that’s even better.
The Eagles are in a bad place right now and the fans aren’t shy about expressing their anger with the state of the team. I get that. But it doesn’t make sense to continually pile on a guy just because he’s overly excited about football and says some out of the box things.
Withhold your judgement on Sirianni until we see what his team actually looks like on Sundays. And don’t take every goofy thing he says as an indicator that he’s not going to be successful. Life’s not that serious and neither if football.