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Nick Sirianni

(Photo by Monica Herndon/ Philadelphia Inquirer)

The Most Underrated Coach in the NFL: Nick Sirianni

Nick Sirianni
Monica Herndon/ Philadelphia Inquirer

The Most Underrated Coach in the NFL: Nick Sirianni

When the Eagles hired Nick Sirianni back on January 21, 2021 there was quite a bit of skepticism. Some pointed out that he had never been a head coach at any level before this. Others pointed out that even as an offensive coordinator, he had never called plays before at the NFL level. And truth be told, the hiring was a bit of a shock to not only Eagles fans, but most of the NFL world as well.

The Eagles had just moved on from Doug Pederson, the man who won them a Super Bowl just three years prior, so the message of needing to win now was clear. That along with the fact that the Eagles were linked to other names such as Josh McDaniels, Dennis Allen and Todd Bowles made the hiring of an unproven and unknown Sirianni all the riskier.

But up until this point, Sirianni has not only been the best coach out of his hiring class, but has simply been one of the best coaches in the NFL. His start was that of a shaky one in which the Eagles began 2-5, including a humiliating prime-time loss to the Cowboys. Very quickly fans and critics started blaming Sirianni, claiming that he was in over his head in trying to call plays for the first time.

So how did Sirianni respond? Well, rather than letting his ego get the best of him, he did what many coaches before him have failed to do: he conceded the role of play-calling to offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, instead focusing on being the actual coach for the team. Sirianni talked about the decision to shift responsibilities during the 2021 season.

 “I felt like I needed to make a change in the sense of how to free me up to be a better head coach, and I had a good assistant to call the plays, and so that’s what I went with,” Sirianni said.

Quote via NBC Philadelphia

Some people would look at this and view it as a knock on his head coaching ability. But I think it proves exactly the opposite. No coach is going to be perfect or even great at everything, but what makes a great coach, in my opinion, is acknowledging these flaws and addressing them rather than pretending they don’t exist. Cough, cough … Urban Meyer.

And what happened after Sirianni did this? Well, the Eagles started winning games. After a rocky 2-5 start, the Eagles were able to rattle off seven wins in their next 10 games and quickly became one of the hottest teams in the league. Not only that, but the Eagles had an identity they previously didn’t have. That being the establishment of the run game.

During their horrid start, the Eagles’ run game was almost nonexistent and fans everywhere were pleading for Sirianni to get the run game going. And to his credit, he did just that. In the span of a few weeks, Sirianni and Steichen completely redesigned the offense and developed one of the deadliest run games in the NFL.

With the combination of Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, and even Jalen Hurts at times, the Eagles became the best rushing team in the NFL averaging about 160 yards per game on the ground. This adjustment gave a struggling Philadelphia team a much-needed identity, allowing them to sneak into the playoffs to the surprise of many across the league.

Another key part to the success of Sirianni so far has been the leadership he’s been able to bring and the way he has been able to keep the young players of this team on track and believing in their common goal. After a blowout win last week against the Vikings to make them 2-0, Sirianni had only one message for the team: Don’t lose focus.

“I think when you focus on — so the compete, the not skipping steps and the attention to detail, I think when you focus on the process of the week and all those things, you don’t get affected by the outside noise,” Sirianni said. “Obviously, people are telling us how good we are now. Whether it was last year at this time people are telling us how bad we were, right.”

Quote via NBC Sports

Nick Sirianni’s coaching career is just beginning, and it’s still well-too-early to determine the legacy he will have with the Eagles. But since his hiring, I feel that he has shown the ability to be a great head coach in this league and adapt to the strengths of his team rather than forcing his philosophy on a team that it clearly won’t work for. Eagles fans have a lot to be optimistic about regarding Sirianni. He seems to love the city and fits right in with the culture being created there. If he’s able to keep this long it won’t be long before he’s beloved by all in the city and who knows? Maybe he even ends up in discussions for Coach of the Year.

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