The Eagles have their new head coach --- Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni.
Is Sirianni the right coach for the job?
Here are some positives and negatives of the decision to hire Sirianni:
Can he lead?: When the Eagles hired Doug Pederson, needless to say, he came with some concerns. One of the concerns was if he was ready to lead a team. It was something nobody watching the process from the outside knew, but ultimately, it ended up being his best quality. The Eagles either knew Pederson could do it or lucked into him having leadership qualities. It feels the same with Sirianni. Perhaps he will have that x-factor that Pederson had. The Eagles don’t truly know. But considering he has never been a head coach, it is fair to wonder how he will handle the Eagles’ locker room — especially the very complicated situation they have at quarterback.
Hasn’t Called Plays: The Eagles will be better off if their head coach is calling plays. That is just a simple fact, barring them finding both an amazing leader at head coach AND an offensive coordinator that is willing to stay for years. The good news is Sirianni will presumably call plays if he was hired. The bad news is he has never done it. He might have helped build the offense in Indianapolis, which we will discuss later, but building it and calling the plays are two different things. The Eagles have no idea how Sirianni will do calling plays until he actually does it, and by then, it will be too late if he can’t handle the pressure.
Young: Honestly, you can view this as either a negative or a positive. The league seems to be trending towards younger head coaches. Still, at 39-years old, Sirianni’s age is definitely noteworthy, especially since he has never been a head coach before. There will be coaches on his staff considerably older than he is. There might even be players on the roster (Peters, Jason) that are older as well. It isn’t as extreme as 31-year old Joe Brady, but for a team that has a ton of problems and tough dynamics to work with, Sirianni’s age is a concern.
No other team interested: In 2016 no other team had interest in Doug Pederson. The Eagles hired him anyway and won a Super Bowl in 2017. So no, it isn’t the end of the world that no other team appears to be in Sirianni. Still, this offseason six teams were/are looking for head coaches, and most would prefer a young, offensive coach. It is a bit worrisome that with so many teams looking for exactly what Sirianni is supposed to be, it is only the Eagles that have interest.
Helped build Colts offense: No, he hasn’t called plays. That is a big question. He has, however, helped build one of the best offenses in the NFL in two of the last three seasons. With Sirianni as the offensive coordinator the Colts were top 10 in both points and yards in 2018 and 2020. Sirianni’s role is similar to what Reich’s was in 2016 and 2017 — Reich built the offense with Doug Pederson. The Colts took a chance on Reich and it worked out. Sirianni is a riskier hire, but he brings the same kind of upside as Reich, and has the potential to come to Philadelphia and fix a broken offense.
Good track record with quarterbacks: The Eagles want a coach that can fix their quarterback position. Sirianni seems to check off that box, as he has gotten near career years out of both Andrew Luck and Philip Rivers. In 2018, after missing 2017 completely, Luck threw for 39 touchdowns and had a career-high 98.7 passer rating. Rivers had similar success with Sirianni in Indianapolis, finishing with a 97.0 quarterback rating, one of the highest of his 17-year career. Although Frank Reich certainly deserves some of the credit for that as well, it seems that with Sirianni helping to build the offense, quarterbacks have success.
Coached multiple positions: Sirianni might only be 39 but he has a pretty long and impressive resume for a young coach. Prior to coming to the NFL he coached defensive backs in college. He then moved to the NFL in 2009, spending time coaching both quarterbacks and wide receivers — the two positions the Eagles need help at perhaps more than any other on the field. He hasn’t had experience as the top guy, but in terms of positions you would want Sirianni to specialize in, having a strong track record with quarterbacks and receivers is certainly a positive.
You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org!