Nick Sirianni has finished his first season as the Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sirianni started his tenure on the wrong foot when his introductory press conference did not go smoothly. After the first press conference, Eagles fans were already weary of their first-year coach.
Sirianni quickly learned in his first year as a head coach that winning can cure all in the city of Philadelphia. He learned this by starting the season with a 2-5 record. The slow start was one Eagles fans were not hoping for but weren’t surprised by either. The team finished the previous season 4-11-1 and did not appear to have a competitive edge coming into the season. However, despite the slow start, Sirianni was able to keep the team together and rally to a playoff spot, finishing the season 9-8.
There was some good and some bad from Sirianni’s season.
There was more good than bad from Sirianni’s first season. Perhaps the worst thing Sirianni did all year was not “come off” as a good hire. Philadelphia didn’t hire the “cool” or “genius” or “upcoming” head coach everyone always wants. Instead, they hired an under the radar football mind. He was not perfect in his first season, but he came a long way from the first press conference.
The slow starts became a problem for this Eagles team by the end of the season. The Eagles were bailed out by an easy end of the year schedule, falling behind the Washington Football Team twice and the New York Giants once. This wasn’t a problem against the lesser opponents, but it came to bite them against a superior team. The Eagles could not overcome an early deficit against the defending Super Bowl champs, ending their season.
Although rookie receiver DeVonta Smith had a record setting first season, my biggest complaint on Sirianni was how he used Smith in the offense. DeVonta Smith should be the primary target on every receiving play the Eagles run. However, too often did it feel like Smith would disappear for chunks of a game. I also felt like Sirianni tried more creative plays and looks to get Reagor involved, and it never worked. If you managed to catch a Bengals or Dolphins game this year, you could see how often those teams targeted Chase and Waddle. Sirianni needs to find ways to keep getting the ball into DeVonta’s hands. I believe the offense can take another step next year if they unleash Smith and turn him into the Eagles clear dynamic playmaker.
The best thing Sirianni did all year was believe in himself and what he was building. Even when they were not winning games, Coach Sirianni stayed committed to who he was and what he wanted to build. Yes, things changed, like running the ball more, but he kept the same philosophy around the team. It would have been easy for a first-year head coach to doubt himself, but he always believed in the team he was building.
Similar to believing in himself, the team seemed to believe in itself all year. Sirianni was able to keep the group together and believing in one another. There never seemed to be any locker room or press conference drama, which was a refreshing change after last season. Also, the players constantly preached, believing in what was being built and staying the course. Sirianni was able to get his guys to buy in, which is a crucial trait for any coach, let alone a first-year head coach.
Lastly, Nick Sirianni was great at adjustments throughout the season. The first and obvious was adjusting the offensive game plan. Sirianni switched to a run-heavy offense that played to the offensive line’s strength. This completely flipped the Eagles season. Further, the Eagles started the season as one of the most penalized teams in the NFL. The Birds cleaned that up as the season went on and finished in the middle of the pack in penalties per game.
We now head to the off-season. It will be interesting to see how Lurie, Roseman, and Sirianni handle their first off-season together. The Eagles have the 15th, 16th, and 19th pick in the upcoming draft. They also have decisions and upgrades to make on both sides of the football. As we wait for the NFL draft, I think we can all agree Nick Sirianni had a successful first season as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, but where he can go from here is what Eagles fans are concerned about.
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