First Impression: Takeaways From Nick Sirianni's Introductory Presser
In an ideal world, a professional football organization would like its head football coach to be a master on the field and before the podium. Win games, kiss babies, sell merchandise – wash, rinse, repeat. Of course, if said team is forced to choose between one or the other, the answer is always A. Nick Sirianni didn't exactly homer into the bleachers in his first press conference as Eagles head coach, but his lackuluster introduction to the media and fan base will only be an afterthought if Sirianni has the coaching makeup to bring the Eagles back to championship form.
Here are my takeaways from his first presser:
No questions, Jeff?
Jeffrey Lurie led off and gave about a 16-minute preamble about the whole hiring process, thanking everyone involving, giving just a few anecdotes that actually revealed anything about the search and then disappeared after giving way to Sirianni. The fact that he wasn't made available for questions wasn't acceptable. Fans deserved more insight into why Sirianni outlasted the pack than just "caring" and "compassion," which is the 2021 version of "emotional intelligence." Also, this comment from Lurie seemed odd afterward: "As soon as you got to spend time with Nick, and we probably spent about, I don't know, 10, 12 hours together over two days, it became apparent that this is a very special communicator," Lurie said. "Not just a brilliant football IQ, which was very evident early on as we went through how he game plans, how he attacks defenses, how he maximizes personnel, not just relying on a scheme, but how to each week attack exactly who you're playing, what their strengths and weaknesses are in great detail. Much more than that." For being a "very special communicator," Sirianni didn't showcase that acumen in his first presser.
I didn't think Sirianni's introduction was an abomination, but if he "blew away" Lurie and others in the interview, he must have showed more presence in the interview than he did at the podium. He seemed a tad jittery, which is to be expected, but for a supposed great communicator, Sirianni spoke in mostly cliches and coachspeak. Jonathan Gannon's knowledge of defense is "off the charts," and "we need to evaluate the roster," and he's lucky to have "two top-notch quarterbacks" and "super excited to work with guys." It's not fair to judge Sirianni on a singular press conference or forecast his success based on his first interaction with the Philly public. But it's completely fair and reasonable to expect a little more insight and charisma from the head coach who was labeled by the owner as a special communicator. Some will note that Doug Pederson always lost the press conference but won the Super Bowl and led three straight playoff runs. Fair point. Some could also counter that Adam Gase lost the press conference and lost on the field, too. Let's also fair here. Philadelphia media is probably quadruple the size of Indianapolis media. The setting also wasn't conducive to great interaction. For some reason, the Eagles had Sirianni stand at a podium in an empty auditorium instead of just sitting in an office, where he could be more relaxed in front of the Zoom audience.
Too much Carson
Also not Sirianni's fault: the abundance of Wentz questions, almost all of which Sirianni tried to avoid like a 4th-and-26. Clearly, the barrage of Wentz questions made it nearly impossible for Sirianni to settle into a comfort zone.a The absence of Howie Roseman and Lurie's refusal to take questions left Sirianni to answer myriad questions about Carson Wentz's future. The Wentz situation is awkward and uncomfortable, and also nothing of Sirianni's creation. He wasn't here for the mess that the team and Wentz created. He shouldn't be the only one from the organization left to answer those questions. The abundance of Wentz questions chipped away at the time other questions that could've gleaned more information and more insight into Sirianni's thinking. There were no concrete answers about voids left to fill on Sirianni's staff. There was nothing – shockingly – about his feeling on analytics. What positions does he values and devalue. What scheme and personnel grouping does he favor? We'll learn this stuff eventually, but it would have been nice if there were more time for reporters to have asked more non-Wentz-related questions.
Praise for QB coach
While he was reluctant to discuss his quarterback situation, Sirianni was more than happy to talk about his new quarterbacks coach, Brian Johnson. Of the former Gators offensive coordinator, Sirianni said this: "Just a really sharp guy who really believed all the things that I spelled out here with the core values. He knew how he was going to intertwine that into coaching," Sirianni said.
"Again, he's just super sharp. Then on top of that, he gives us the ability to take some things from the college game to make our offense just become a little bit more difficult to defend. That was another thing that was really attractive about Brian." I'm thinking it's a positive that Sirianni wants more spice in the offense from the college game. That's a concept that Pederson seemed reluctant to embrace despite the fact that one of his mentors, Andy Reid, built an offense in Kansas City that borrowed heavily from the college game.
Hey, if you're gonna be lackluster in a presser, at least toss around some Philly connections to get the fans on your side. Sirianni mentioned the 2016 Villanova national champion men's basketball team, made famous on Kris Jenkins' 3 at the buzzer, along with Lower Merion's Kobe Bryant in discussing concepts of game management and fundamentals. Villanova set the template for Sirianni's mantra of being ready and prepared for the moment through repetition and drilling. "That's our job here with the Eagles," he said, "to make sure we go through all those situations with them and create a good, smart football team." In Bryant, a four-time NBA champion with the Lakers, Sirianni observed the vitality of fundamentals as the requisite accessory to god-given talent. "Kobe Bryant is one person I've loved to study more than anybody. He talked about how, yes, he was extremely talented, but at the core of his game was the fundamentals," Sirianni said. "When you can combine the fundamentals and you combine that with the talent, that's when you get a player to reach the level of excellence. Those are the core values that I’d like to bring here and build upon here of the Philadelphia Eagles." – Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the "Inside the Birds" podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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