Super Bowl LVII: Nick Sirianni right coach at right time for Eagles
Calling Nick Sirianni’s coaching chops into question is nothing new.
It’s been happening since he stammered his way through a comically poor introductory news conference so rife with raised eyebrows that he had to quickly apologize to his players for the bad look. It followed him through last season when he took us — and the team — on a long-winded metaphor about flowering plants that seemed more apt for a Home Depot seminar than an NFL locker room.
At that point it seemed he might be better suited for an orange smock than the dark green gear he got to wear as one of the supposedly 32 top football minds in the world.
This week, though, Sirianni came under attack at an unlikely time and from an unlikely source.
First of all, it happened as he was preparing his Eagles team for the Super Bowl, the literal proof of his ability to accomplish the vision he had for the organization in less than two years on the job.
Secondly, it came from the Giants, a division rival he has beaten the last four times he faced them while outscoring them by a combined 149-68 in five total meetings.
Well, it came from one Giant in particular. Safety Julian Love, appearing on “Good Morning Football” on NFL Network during the week, didn’t just downplay Sirianni’s role in his team’s success. He denied its existence.
“He’s a guy who is really doing a good job because he’s not getting in the way of his team,” Love said. “He has an experienced roster from top to bottom, offense, defense. He’s in for a free ride right now.”
He basically equated Sirianni to the “coach” of a fantasy football roster and then turned to the crew gathered around the table in studio.
“You guys can coach this team.”
Predictably, there were Eagles who took umbrage and came to Sirianni’s defense.
“People always got something to say when they at home,” linebacker Brandon Graham told reporters. “He said anybody can coach this team? It’s like, man, it don’t matter, because at the end of the day, it’s on your GM and your president and people to be able to bring guys in and sign guys and have people want to come to this organization. I mean, it’s a whole bunch of different factors other than just him talking about Coach Sirianni. A lot of people just mad because of what happened this season.”
They’re both right.
That’s really what coaching in the NFL is all about, being the right guy at the right time. Sirianni undoubtedly is that for this team.
It’s not about having one way of doing things and bending the team to your will. The Giants tried that with Joe Judge and it failed miserably. It’s also not about having such a loose grip on the reins of a roster that it takes off in its own direction. Anarchy never wins.
Just because Sirianni didn’t, very early in his tenure, appear to fit the mold of what we think of as a polished communicator and serious play-schemer didn’t mean he would not succeed. It certainly upped the importance of his team performing well enough to justify his sticking around to get to this point in his career, but it wasn’t a career death sentence.
Nor was his firing from his first NFL job. In Kansas City. At the hands of Andy Reid.
Sirianni was a wide receivers coach at the time, and when Reid took over as the head coach in 2013, one of his first decisions was to kick Sirianni to the curb.
“He pulled me into the office and asked to meet with me and told me face-to-face that he had a guy [to fill my spot] but had heard good things about me, and I appreciated that, his honesty, his ability to get to me as soon as he possibly could so I could move on and find another job,” Sirianni recalled this week. “I didn’t get a chance to pick his brain at all or anything like that, but I’ve got a ton of respect for Coach Reid and who he is as a person and who he is as a coach. His record speaks for itself, but you talk to anybody and they think even higher of him as a person.”
Coaches come in all shapes and sizes, all types of personalities. If there were a list of perfect traits, what a boring world that would be.
It’s much more critical to match a style to a team.
Chances are high that at some point this coming week, either the Giants’ players or the Eagles’ players will have a chance to crow about their head coach. Brian Daboll, having turned around the Giants in his first season with them, is a finalist for NFL Coach of the Year (Doug Pederson and Kyle Shanahan are the other finalists; the winner will be announced Thursday night at the NFL Honors program). Sirianni didn’t make that list, but he has the bigger honor potentially awaiting him on Sunday.
Daboll was able to get the most out of the Giants just as Sirianni has been able to do for the Eagles.
Two very different men. Two very different approaches.
They’re both right . . . for their respective teams.