There are 32 people on the planet who are NFL head coaches.
Nick Sirianni is one of them.
From all indications, the Eagles’ coach is enjoying this privileged life. As he should.
As Sirianni breezes through his offseason, he knows the job will get very real, very soon.
- Opening day is less than three months away.
- Opening day of the Eagles 2022 schedule is when everything he works for, when every little detail that has consumed his life, will be out in the open for all to see … and criticize, by all means.
- This opening day will arrive with crushing expectations, fueled by last year’s playoff run and this year’s successful offseason.
- The pressure is on Nick Sirianni this season, more than ever.
The Eagles feel like a team on the move, on the rise. Now, they just have to go out and play winning football.
The content eyes of the fan base will be cynical eyes come Sunday, Sept. 11, at Ford Field in downtown Detroit. Once the Eagles and Lions take the field, Sirianni will be judged through an entirely different prism.
ROSEMAN DELIVERS A GREAT OFFSEASON
Sirianni and the Eagles will start the season riding the crest of what might be the best offseason in franchise history. This isn’t a “Dream Team,” but it looks like a damn good team and the pressure is on Nick Sirianni to win.
General manager Howie Roseman did what is believed to be a commanding job in the offseason. He filled glaring holes with free agents. He made draft picks widely thought to be on their way to becoming future cornerstones of the franchise.
Roseman went out and traded for wide receiver A.J. Brown, a bold move believed to be the finishing touch on a rebuild that looks more like a reload. Then, Roseman filled another area of need when he signed James Bradberry to start at cornerback.
Once training camp starts July 26, Roseman will make the proverbial handoff of the franchise to the head coach. The Eagles’ fortunes will ride with Sirianni, his coaching staff and his football players. The team is expected to make the playoffs, contend for the division and make a deep playoff run.
No matter how cool and composed Sirianni looks publicly, he knows he is facing enormous pressure to deliver — for the players, for the team, for the fans … for his bosses, Roseman and team owner Jeff Lurie.
Facing that pressure, and conquering it, might be the difference between success in Philadelphia or an uncertain future for Sirianni.
A recent study by Business Insider found that NFL head coaches have a median tenure of about 3.0 seasons. If Sirianni is worried about job security, he shows no sign of that stress.
- He gives off the airy fragrance of confidence.
- He looks snappy and assertive on the practice field.
- He looks composed and smart at the lectern.
- He answers questions with the ease of a man who is knowledgeable about his task and convinced he is the right man, in the right place, at the right time.
LESSON FROM CHIP KELLY TENURE
Let’s not forget the past. Chip Kelly arrived in Philly in 2013 as the hottest thing ever. He was hugely successful at the University of Oregon. When he made the jump to the NFL, the Eagles snagged him, then bragged about it.
Everyone was thrilled. A few months into Kelly’s tenure a Daily News writer told me:
“If Chip wanted to change the team’s nickname to the Ducks, the Eagles would consider it.”
OK, the comment was made in jest but you get the point. The Eagles were head over heels about Chip. The Eagles were 10-6 and made the playoffs in his first season. He missed the playoffs while going 10-6 in 2014.
The Eagles were 6-9 in Chip’s third season. The Eagles couldn’t get Chip out of town fast enough. He was fired with one game remaining on the schedule. The Boy King was abdicated, one game short of the 3.0-season life expectancy of NFL head coaches.
We don’t know how the Nick Sirianni tenure will play out. We don’t think he will flame out as Chipper did. We mention the Kelly fiasco because this is always a possibility in the aspiration-driven NFL.
We think Sirianni is built differently than control-freak Chip. A small sign: Sirianni just turned over the play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.
SIRIANNI, HURTS IN THIS TOGETHER
Young, unproven Nick Sirianni led the Eagles to an unexpected 9-8 record and a trip to the playoffs in his first season as head coach. He did it with a young, unproven quarterback in Jalen Hurts.
Along with way, Sirianni earned the respect of Eagles fans, who commonly are a tough sell. He also earned the trust and admiration of the players, who rolled up their sleeves and got after it last season.
He will begin his second season with much more pressure than last year. People now *expect* something out of Sirianni and the Eagles. Most fans aren’t expecting the Eagles to win the Super Bowl, but another 9-8 season is unacceptable. Philly is a tough town that way.
- The pressure is on Nick Sirianni with a quarterback who *still* is young and unproven.
- He has publicly and enthusiastically endorsed Hurts.
- Sirianni and Hurts are tied together, for better or worse.
If Hurts succeeds, Sirianni looks like a genius. If Hurts fails, so does Sirianni.