AFTER JUST TWO SEASONS, NICK SIRANNI'S RESUME IS ALREADY IMPRESSIVE
The Sixers opened their playoffs vs the Brooklyn Nets last Saturday, April 15, and right there in attendance was Nick Sirianni alongside the longest tenured Eagle, Brandon Graham.
Like best friends, cheering on the home team like the biggest Philly Sports Fans there are.
Sometimes a picture tells a thousand words, and sometimes it tells even more.
In Sirianni's case he has a fierce love of his players. And vise-versa! When I asked Lane Johnson about his head coach he said "he is a great communicator and holds every player accountable from the very top through the bottom, with that fierce loyalty to his players."
I think after two years of St. Nick's leadership we can safely say he also has a fierce loyalty to the city of Philadelphia and their religious loyalty to the Birds.
But let's examine this further from a players standpoint. He inherited a team that completely collapsed in 2020 and won a paltry 4 games. Since then in just over two years at the helm has put the Birds into the playoffs twice including a Super Bowl berth and 30 minutes away from earning their second Vincent T. Lombardi Trophy in team history.
That by itself is remarkable. But individually let’s look at some players and what they have accomplished in the past two seasons.
Jalen Hurts just signed the richest contract in NFL History, averaging $51 million a year over the next five years.
Who saw that coming two years ago? He was neck-and-neck for the MVP award with Patrick Mahomes over the first 15 games until a shoulder injury vs the Bears had him on the shelf for a few weeks.
The offense could not have been tailor made for Hurts anymore than it was while setting an NFL record of 15 rushing touchdowns.
ane Johnson returned to first team all-pro at right tackle and hasn't surrendered a sack while Nick has been the head coach.
Myles Sanders, the talented but often injured back had his best season ever and stayed healthy throughout earning his second contract with the Carolina Panthers via free agency.
Isaac Seumalo returned from a serious injury to have his best season and sign a lucrative free agent contract with the Steelers.
On defense, Haason Reddick, Javon Hargrave, and Chauncy Gardner-Johnson all enjoyed their best seasons ever.
They utilized the "Tush Push" on short yardage and goal line situations like nobody else in the football kingdom which was a big part of their success.
His chief lieutenants, Shane Steichen and Coach Gannon both were named head coaches.
The defensive line almost set an NFL record for sacks in a season.
All of these accomplishments are under the watch of Sirianni. Has any coach accomplished more in less time?
What I am amazed at even more than the accomplishments is he looks from afar like he is having more fun coaching this Eagle team more than any head coach in any other sport.
Whether he is doing a press conference with his adorable kids hanging all over him, or doing a weekday presser with a throwback t-shirt with Randall Cunningham on the front or if he is making light of a penetrating question from the media mob.
He is always in control and usually with a smile on his face.
Game day he works the sideline with the pacing of a madman but always under control. Never afraid to praise or scold a player for great play of dummy head move.
And every Game Day the Birds always look like a well-coached team. Yes there have been games where the game plan can be questioned and the forgetfulness of the run game seemed like not the smartest plan to ever unfold. But those questioned game plans seem further and further in the rear view mirror.
I remember Hurts telling friends that all he wanted was to be coached...hard. He had two stops in college and in the NFL where he didn’t feel like that had been accomplished.
It is with little debate that Nick and Jalen have had disagreements in games about play call, execution, and challenges of coaching decisions. But all have been handled in the heat of the moment without deleterious effects.
The head coach-QB relationship is the most important in sports and Nick and Jalen are in lockstep going forward
There are challenges going forward for Nick. I have always felt that losing great coaches is harder than losing great players. To lose both Gannon and Steichen in the same off season will be difficult.
Their replacements; Sean Desai and Brian Johnson are beyond qualified but it will be different and the communication has to be as seamless as it once was.
But I believe that the Birds are ready to jump off of the mat after a devastating loss in SB LV11. I don’t believe there will be a hangover as a result of Nick’s leadership.
Not only does he hold everyone accountable, He is also a stickler for the fundamentals of the game. Fundamentals are the tools that every player must work on daily so that the level of play remains high to allow yourself the chance to compete at your positions regardless of the level of an opponent’s talent.
It is the hallmark of Sirianni's coaching resume that players are going to continually improve.
Every year is different with a different set of challenges, and thus, no team returns as
the same team.
But in that aforementioned statement, is a key word. St. Nick knows how to build a TEAM and to play as a TEAM. That is why I feel like the Birds are my choice, eight days prior to the draft, as the team to beat in the NFC EAST.
Once that happens and the playoffs begin at the LINC....anything can happen....Even a return trip to a Super Bowl.....Just finish the job St. Nick. *