Nick Sirianni talks about the process all the time without mentioning Joel Embiid, who cut a tall and dashing figure on the Eagles’ sidelines last week.
Sirianni’s process is simple. Win today, win the week. Go 1-0 today. Go 1-0 this week. Siranni talks about it; his players talk about it. Focus on the next game. Don’t look ahead. Don’t look back. Everyone should improve by one percent every day.
- “It’s just like anything. You’re going to just preach it and talk about it, and because we understand that it is real,” the Eagles’ coach said before the team departed for Phoenix.
Sirianni is faced with the ultimate process game against the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. There’s literally no reason to look beyond Sunday’s game. No reason to look back, either. What’s done is done. The Eagles’ 16 wins are in the ledger.
Two teams remain.
Sirianni wants everything to be the same under circumstances where nothing can be the same.
The Eagles landed in Arizona on Sunday. They stepped into a desert atmosphere that is a different beast than the regular season. Media is everywhere. Time slows down to the point of stopping. How many days until Super Sunday? Are we there yet?
Demands on players’ and coaches’ time are constant. Agents want their clients to make just one more appearance. Players can’t go home after practice. They can’t eat dinner at their favorite restaurant. Everyone they’ve ever known wants tickets.
- “How do I get a little bit better each day?” Sirianni said. “We don’t need to think about getting way down the road here, but how do we get a little bit better today.
- “And our formula for that — we always talk about this — is practicing with high, high intensity; high, high detail and job description in the meeting; and full speed to the snap and walk-through.
- “Well, one thing that can stop you from getting a little bit better each day, even if you are doing those three things I just said, is distractions in the outside world.
- “So we talk about that. Everybody’s distractions look different.”
BECOME A LEGEND
No matter how focused a coach, player and team can be, the stakes are crushing. A Super Bowl victory is a career-maker, something that validates all of the hard work and sacrifice.
Win this one football game, and you are a legend in your hometown and in the city where you play. Win this game and you forever are known as a “Super Bowl champion.”
- “Everybody understands the stakes, but our job is to literally look at the day of where we are right now and take the steps that we need to take today,” Sirianni said. “That’s not going to change.
- “This is the biggest game in football. We all know that. It’s the Super Bowl. It’s the biggest game that anybody will ever play in football. We understand that.
- “But when you start treating these games differently, that’s when mistakes happen. That’s when you don’t stick to the process of who you are and your identity as a team, your fundamentals, all the things we’ve been talking about all year.”
Pressure will ramp up the closer we get to Super Sunday. Dick Vermeil’s 1980 Eagles were strangled by pressure, although players from that team say it was the minus-four turnover differential that led to the Raiders’ victory.
The Eagles looked nothing like the confident team that beat Dallas to make the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
That Eagles team wasn’t the first to be crushed by expectations. They won’t be the last, either. At some point between now and kickoff, the feeling of what’s still out there for them will sink in.
If it hasn’t already.
- “It’s just how do we eliminate distractions, and it’s hard,” Sirianni said. “It will be a challenge.
- “But again, when you’re playing for something that’s bigger than yourself, right, because of the relationships that you have with the teammates that you have and the coaches that you have, then you’re willing to sacrifice things.
- “And that’s the definition I talk about all the time. That’s the definition, the greatest motivator is love, and I know our guys love each other, and sacrificing things is one of the greatest indicators of love.”
It takes a strong-willed team with strong leadership to put aside everything except the next game — especially this game. The trick is to treat the Super Bowl as another game, while knowing it’s anything but. Good luck with that.
Eagles fans have been in a frenzy since the NFC title game victory over San Francisco. If fans are this excited, can you imagine what the players feel?
Players can’t afford to get caught up in the excitement and emotion that fans feel. This is their profession, their office. They have a game plan to learn, practice and execute. If they were calculated and efficient all season, they must be the same on Super Sunday.
Speaking of pressure, they know they will perform in front of an audience of about 100 million people. And they know if they lose, they will drag this loss around with them forever.