Eagles rookie head coach Nick Sirianni will be running his first NFL game as a head coach this Sunday when the Birds take on the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (1 PM FOX).
Both teams are looking to rebound from forgettable 2020 seasons.
The Eagles finished with a record of 4-11-1 and saw head coach Doug Pederson lose his job and franchise quarterback Carson Wentz shipped out to the Indianapolis Colts.
The Falcons actually finished with a worse record, going 4-12. Atlanta owner Arthur Blank fired Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff after the team got off to a 0-5 start.
The Falcons new head coach is Arthur Smith, who will also be making his head coaching debut.
Smith is a former high school and college offensive lineman and one of 10 children of FedEx founder Frederick W. Smith.
Both will be tasked with defining their team’s style and personality.
Sirianni was asked this week how he can tell so many new players making their Eagles debut including all the rookies plus new free agents who will have significant roles including defensive end Ryan Kerrigan, linebacker Eric Wilson, safety Anthony Harris, cornerback Steven Nelson and punter Arryn Siposs, what he defines as “Eagles Football.”
The animated coach said he’s working on it.
“You know what? That's just been a conversation – oh, as you're saying – I got you. You're saying in general what Eagles football is, not what we are as a team and what we've been talking about every day.
Sirianni didn’t answer himself…he just continued.
“I think that we've done a – we've definitely talked about our core values and everything like that,” He said. “I think we know exactly who we were in this building. I know we know exactly who we are in this building and what core values and things are important to us, et cetera, et cetera.
“But we've done a good job, I think, as a staff and as a team talking about the history that this team has and that the city has, right, and how good of fans we have and how passionate of fans we have.
“So, that's been being discussed from early on, how special it is. ‘Hey, you guys that haven't played for the Philadelphia Eagles, or coached, how special it actually is here in this city with the fans that we have.’”
Sirianni said he even has had visual aids made up to show all the new Eagles who are the main rivals.
“And so, we've been talking about that. We have a division rival board up here. I know we're not playing a division rival, but it shows on this big screen, it shows all the plays that were made against all the division rivals and shows the fans a lot, too, just going crazy going against those division rivals, too.
“So, we’ve talked a lot about who we are as a team, and we’ve also talked about this city, this organization, and the history that it has and the proud tradition it has.”
Veteran cornerback Darius Slay said Sirianni is authentic and his passion for football contagious.
“They’ve been excited since they walked in the building,” said Slay, referring to Sirianni’s staff.
“His debut of being a head coach, his debut the first day of practice…he’s been excited the whole time. I’m loving the whole energy because I’m an excited guy. I’ll always match his energy. I’m looking forward to him. I’m looking forward to help him win his first NFL game.”
Slay said he and the rest of the team wants to set a tone. Winning the opener against a team that is more than beatable is the obvious best way to do that.
“We always want to be a tone-setter as a group as a coaching staff,” Slay said. “We just want to go out there and set the tone and start off right.” *
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