The Eagles were the last team to fire their head coach after the 2020 NFL season. Philadelphia didn’t take too long to find their replacement for Doug Pederson.
Nick Sirianni became the NFL’s sixth new head-coaching hire of the 2021 offseason on Thursday, agreeing to terms with the Eagles. The former Colts offensive coordinator will lead Philadelphia’s coaching shakeup, joining Urban Meyer (Jaguars), Robert Saleh (Jets), Arthur Smith (Falcons), Brandon Staley (Chargers), Dan Campbell (Lions) as new coaches around the league in 2021.
Sirianni, 39, may not have seemed like the obvious choice, but there are many reasons to think he’s an ideal hire to go in a different but also similar direction from Pederson:
Nick Sirianni is the next-best thing to Frank Reich — and isn’t Josh McDaniels
The Eagles could have followed their Pederson path and plucked either offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy (overdue for such a job) or quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka (still young for such a job) from the Chiefs’ staff. There also was an intriguing in-house candidate in Duce Staley.
But there was a reason the Eagles did not want to be attached to Pederson connections and tap more into what they lost with Reich offensively since he separated from Pederson. Reich has quickly proven his worth as the Colts coach with two playoff trips in three years when his QB play has been solid, first with Andrew Luck and then with Philip Rivers.
Sirianni worked as Reich’s right-hand man with the Colts after the pair built a strong connection while on the Chargers’ staff together. He is a bright, organized mind ideal to fix the Eagles’ offense, using a more balanced and diverse approach.
The Eagles, like the Colts in 2018, were reportedly closing in on Josh McDaniels, the Patriots’ offensive coordinator, but did a wise pivot to Reich’s staff in the end. It’s hard to ignore how Reich has been so much better than McDaniels would have been in Indy. Sirianni has played a key part in that.
He has good Chiefs’ experience away from the Andy Reid tree
Sirianni started his NFL career with the Chiefs back in 2009. He served as coach of offensive quality control, quarterbacks (assistant) and wide receivers during his four seasons there. That got him on track to quickly get plenty of game-planning and player-motivating experience. Sirianni also held all three roles for the Chargers, too, from 2013-2017. Sirianni has made the most of all three solid stints to earn his first head-coaching shot.
He made it work twice with Philip Rivers and can do the same with Carson Wentz
Sirianni and Reich knew Rivers well from the Chargers and got one more strong season out of him before Rivers decided to retire. The elevated QB play, taking advantage of support from the running game and a good offensive line, can happen again with the mobile Wentz in Philadelphia. He can make Miles Sanders a bigger, consistent factor to set up a more favorable passing game were Wentz takes full advantage of play-action for deep shots while also being trained to get the ball out quickly and going back to using the middle of the field with more effective results.
If for some reason the Eagles would like to roll with Jalen Hurts for Sirianni, he can adjust to Hurts’ better athleticism and put in some of the same balanced, spread-the-ball concepts.
He has versatile offensive experience with Todd Haley, Mike McCoy
Haley and McCoy had ups and downs as both play-callers and head coaches. But in their best days, with a history of learning from all kinds of strong offensive mentors themselves, they were successful with different styles when necessary. Sirianni clicked most with Reich, but also was a valuable assistant for Haley and McCoy — to the point he was retained by their head-coaching successors.
For being younger than 40, Sirianni has an impressive resume in a variety of roles, stamped by how much Reich trusted him in Indianapolis. Now the Eagles are putting from that familiar trust, hoping it leads most to turning Wentz into a top quarterback again.