Sirianni and Daboll: Coaching friends become rivals when Eagles play Giants

Posted on January 17, 2023

Brian Daboll was hired by the Giants on Jan. 29, 2022, the 20th head coach in franchise history.

Daboll replaced Joe Judge, a Lansdale Catholic High guy who coached for two forgettable seasons — 6-10 and 4-13. Before this season, the Giants hadn’t enjoyed a winning season since 2016. They hadn’t won a playoff game since 2011.

The Giants have been around since 1925. They’ve won four Super Bowls. Giants players are found throughout the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

They’ve employed notable coaches — two-time Super Bowl winners Bill Parcells and Tom Coughlin. They are a franchise used to winning, not 4-13 seasons.

Daboll took over a franchise lacking talent and on the wrong side of the salary cap. In charge was a guy who had never been a head coach.


Nick Sirianni was hired by the Eagles on Jan. 21, 2021. He replaced the only head coach to win a Super Bowl in Philadelphia, Doug Pederson. Pederson was coming off a miserable 4-11-1 season, three seasons removed from the championship.

Sirianni stepped into a quarterback mess with highly paid Carson Wentz, whose steep decline in production in the 2020 season helped end Pederson’s tenure. (Turns out, maybe Wentz was the problem, not Pederson, right?)

Less than a month later, the Eagles traded Wentz to the Colts and handed the starting job to Jalen Hurts, who started the final four games as a rookie in 2020.

In 2021, Sirianni went 9-8 and led the Eagles to the playoffs. In late October that season, the Eagles were 2-5. In charge was a guy who had never been a head coach.


Daboll and Sirianni’s friendship began during the year they were on Romeo Crennel’s Chiefs staff in 2012. Daboll was the offensive coordinator, Sirianni the receivers coach.

The Chiefs went an NFL-worst 2-14. Kansas City fired Crennel and hired Andy Reid. Daboll landed an assistant coaching job under Bill Belichick with the Patriots. Sirianni moved onto an offensive quality control job with the Chargers.

Sirianni and Daboll are both from Western New York. Sirianni said they have stayed in touch over the years. If you go through the grind of a 2-14 season together, you’re probably comrades for life.


Daboll and Sirianni led their franchises back to the playoffs in 2022. The Giants went 9-7-1, shocking the league that saw them go 4-13 the previous season.

The sixth-seeded Giants continued to stun the NFL by knocking off the third-seeded Vikings in Minneapolis, 34-27 on Sunday.

Sirianni’s season was just as shocking. The Eagles started 8-0, finished 14-3 and earned the NFC’s bye.

Daboll should get serious consideration for Coach of the Year. If it weren’t for the Giants’ performance this year, Sirianni might be a top candidate.

The long-time friends will meet in one of the NFL’s longest and most bitter rivalries Saturday night at the Linc in the NFC divisional playoffs.

  • “Brian is one of my biggest mentors as far as what he taught me,” Sirianni said. “I wish I had more time with Brian than just the year that we had.
  • “When you go 2-14, and one of your biggest mentors is one of the guys on the staff from that 2-14 team, you know he’s teaching me a lot in that sense.
  • “A lot of my development as a coach came from him, so no surprise the Giants are playing the way they are because I know how good of a coach Brian Daboll is.”


Sirianni holds a 2-0 career lead over his friend, the Eagles winning both games this season. The first victory was a 48-22 rout at the Meadowlands.

The second victory was 22-16, in the first game Hurts played after two missing two games with a right shoulder sprain. In that game, Daboll held back most of his starters as the Giants’ playoff position couldn’t change.

Saturday is third game — the one both coaches really want. The winner advances to the NFC Championship Game.

  • “He had an impact on me, too,” Daboll said. “He was a fantastic coach.
  • “He was young, he was just getting started, but you could tell — I would say right from the beginning because I spent a lot of time with him — that his arrow was pointing up and fast. Certainly it has.”

Daboll is six years older than Sirianni. As his former boss in Kansas City, Daboll took on the role of mentor, too.

  • “I always felt like he took me under his wing and said, ‘I’m going to help this guy,’ ” Sirianni said.
  • “I feel like he took me like any good coach does, you’re here, and you want them to be able to take you to the next level and then some. That’s what we try to do with players — how can we get these guys to raise their game to another level.
  • “Well, Brian Daboll did that for me as a coach … he took me a couple of levels higher because of the things he taught me about offense, about defensive football.

After a 17-year NFL coaching run, Daboll spent the 2017 season as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. The Crimson Tide won the national championship that year. Daboll’s quarterback? Jalen Hurts.

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Chuck Bausman

Chuck Bausman is an Eagles writer for Chuck formerly was the Executive Sports Editor of the Philadelphia Daily News and the Executive Sports Editor of the Courier-Post in South Jersey. He learned how to cuss by watching Philly sports.

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