Stay Ahead of the Game: Sign Up for the PHLY Daily

Subscribe now to receive exclusive content, insider insights, and exciting updates right in your inbox.

    Upgrade Your Fandom

    Join the Ultimate PHLY Sports Community!

    From a "stale" Eagles offense to a need to "re-prove", 10 things learned from Nick Sirianni and Howie Roseman

    Zach Berman Avatar
    January 24, 2024

    The Eagles’ season ended nine nights ago, but Nick Sirianni and Howie Roseman delayed their end-of-season news conference until Wednesday. Never mind that teams eliminated in the divisional round still met with reporters in the days immediately after their defeat. The Eagles needed time to process what happened during the end-of-season collapse. 

    Roseman said there was “sadness” about the way the season concluded, so the team took a day off after the loss. Then there were exit meetings. Then there was a snow day. And then the braintrust finally assembled to determine a plan. That plan includes Sirianni, but not his offensive and defensive coordinators from 2023. 

    With more than a week of anticipation — and a 30-minute delay on Wednesday — they finally shared their thoughts about what happened and what’s ahead. Here were 10 things we learned from the press conference: 

    1. The offense became “stale” and will include new ideas and philosophies 

    The big question entering Wednesday was whether the change in offense coordinator would simply mean a different person is calling Sirianni’s offense, or if the Eagles will make a material change to their system from the past three years. 

    It sounds as if the offense will have an infusion of fresh ideas and concepts.

    Sirianni showed self-awareness when he acknowledged that the Eagles “got a little bit stale on offense by the end of the year.” 

    “These ideas and this new person coming in is meant to take away the staleness and add the value of what they’re adding to the offense,” Sirianni said.

    This reality was why Sirianni spoke glowingly of outgoing offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. However, the Eagles needed new ideas and Sirianni wasn’t leaving, so Johnson was fired to make room for someone with new ideas.

    When Sirianni was asked if that coach will have control of the offense — Sirianni has insisted in the past that it’s his offense — he said they would be foolish to not incorporate ideas that have worked, but the Eagles are ”bringing in a guy to bring in new ideas, to do the things that he’s done in the past.” It’s unknown if that will mean more pre-snap motion or what the blitz answers might be. But you can expect a revamped system in 2024.

    “We’re working on getting the best guy in here for the job and a guy who has a vision, a guy who’s going to call the plays, a guy who’s going to be able to coach the quarterback in the same sense there,” Sirianni said. “It’s just about getting the right guy, and then we’ll decide where that goes, but I’m hiring him to do a job and to be in charge of the offense.”

    2. The Eagles are playing coy on Vic Fangio…for now

    Although the identity of the next offensive coordinator remains unknown, the defensive coordinator search included a major development on Wednesday when the Dolphins parted ways with Vic Fangio. That would clear the way for Fangio to return to the Eagles, for whom he consulted in 2023 and where he thought might end up had he known Jonathan Gannon would leave Philadelphia following the 2022 season.

    “We’ve got a lot of good targets that we’re working through, and there are a lot of guys that have done really well in their interview process, and I look forward to continuing on that process,” Sirianni said when asked about the Fangio reports. “We’ll see what happens.”

    The connection is clear. The timing is obvious. The interest is undeniable — the Eagles have sought Fangio’s scheme for the past two years. Instead of finding branches from the tree, they can now hire the originator. Add in the fact that he’s a former head coach with significant coordinator experience, not to mention a central Pennsylvania native, and this one seems like it could be wrapped up quickly. ESPN reported a deal is expected.

    3. Why won’t Sirianni second-guess the Sean Desai decision?

    The decision to change defensive coordinators from Sean Desai to Matt Patricia after 13 games did not work. There’s no way to go back and change that decision, but Sirianni seemed to stand by the change.

    “Obviously I understand that anything that I do, any decision that I make, if it doesn’t work out, you can look at it and second-guess it. We are where we are right now,” Sirianni said. “I made that decision because I thought it was the best decision for the team. Obviously we all fell short at the end, at those last six weeks of the season. All of us did. I’ll say obviously Matt was in a tough situation trying to — because you can’t completely change the defense, so he was trying to make some things happen with, quite frankly, things that weren’t his defense. I know I put Matt in a tough spot, and I know I put Sean in a tough spot, obviously. But at the time that I did that, I did it because I thought it was the best decision for the football team.”

    Of course, he thought it was the right decision at the time. But on the topic of self-awareness, he could have acknowledged it’s a move he should not have made. The defense was better with Desai than Patricia. Part of accountability could be recognizing that the critical decision backfired, but that was not the route Sirianni took publicly. 

    And when Howie Roseman was asked for his role in Desai’s demotion, he said Sirianni came to him with the idea.

    “I trust him with the coaching staff,” Roseman said. “That’s his responsibility, just like he trusts me with my front office staff. That’s how we’re structured here. That’s how the relationship works. I always want to be supportive for him and a resource if he needs me to do something, if he asks me a question, if he asks me an opinion in a situation like this. He had made up his mind, he had made the decision, and I’m going to support him.”

    4. Sirianni will lean into being more of the CEO coach

    It was framed to Sirianni that if he’s not overseeing the offense and he’s not overseeing the defense, what’s his role?

    “The head coach of the football team,” Sirianni said.

    I have no issue with this answer. Look at John Harbaugh. Look at Dan Campbell. Both are still coaching in conference championships. Neither calls plays. They trust their assistants, they coach the entire team, they set the agenda and create a culture, they manage the game — and much more. It’s a big job. These can be described as “CEO coaches,” and it shouldn’t be considered a negative.

    “Does that mean I’ll sit more into defensive meetings at times? Maybe. Instead of always being in an offensive meeting. Maybe I go to a defensive meeting here and there,” Sirianni said. “But my job is to be the head coach of the team, not the head coach of the offense, not the head coach of the defense, not the head coach of the special teams, but be the head coach of the football team. So that’s building the culture. That’s making sure the culture is working with our five core values, are taking every day at a time.”

    5. Want to know why Sirianni is back? Look at his record

    The reason for keeping Sirianni was made clear by Roseman, who pointed to Sirianni’s accomplishments as the reason why the Eagles believed Sirianni could fix what ailed the team late in the season and that a clean sweep was not required.

    “I’m not diminishing the 1-6 stretch at the end – [but] we were 26-5 over the last 31 games. That’s four times the amount of games that we played over this stretch,” Roseman said. “That is hard to do in the National Football League. That is hard to find a head coach in this league who has that record of success. I think we were 33-11 up until that point with Nick. We’ve made the playoffs three straight years. Again, not OK finishing 1-6, so I’m not sitting up here saying that, but it is hard to find somebody who can do those sort of things.”

    Roseman is correct that Sirianni’s record to date is worthy of praise. Few coaches have that type of resume during the past three seasons. However, the question is not about “deserve”.” Jeffrey Lurie said as much when he dismissed Doug Pederson. The Eagles must believe that Sirianni can fix this, because those last seven games should be troubling for the organization.

    Speaking of which…

    6. Sirianni believes he must “re-prove” himself in 2024

    Sirianni said the end-of-season meetings with Jeffrey Lurie were not different than they were the past two seasons. But it’s hard to consider this a typical end-of-season arrangement. Just look how long it took for the organization to put Sirianni in front of cameras. Consider that he fired two coordinators. Much went on behind the scenes. Sirianni said he did not need to sell himself or his vision for the team. to Lurie. However, he does feel like he did when he was hired in 2021 to considerable skepticism.

    “In my mind, you’d better believe I’m thinking how do I re-prove myself,” Sirianni said. “I was a young coach that Mr. Lurie and Howie and this organization trusted to give the job to. I had to prove myself that this guy can lead the organization like they asked me to, and I had to prove myself from then. 

    “I think you ask me that question, did I have to sell my vision, no, because it was business as usual, but you’d better believe that I’m thinking after that 1-6 finish after starting the way we started and doing the things that we’ve done in the past that I’m thinking I’m going to prove them right again, and we’re going to prove them right. We’ve got to re-prove ourselves. We’ve got to go prove it again. That’s how I feel right now. That’s how I’m attacking this off-season. That’s how I’m attacking this upcoming season as we get ready for it. Just hungry to be able to prove myself again to Mr. Lurie and the faith that he’s had in me and Howie and the faith he’s had in me and the rest of the team and the city.”

    7. The Eagles won’t change how they build a defense

    By this point, you know how Roseman builds his defenses. The Eagles invest their resources in the defensive front and the cornerbacks, and try to get by with less significant investments elsewhere. Don’t expect that to change.

    “I feel like we’ve had a long history of success here building the team a certain way, and I think maybe there are some preconceived notions that at the linebacker position, that we don’t care who we play at linebacker,” Roseman said. “Again, our two Super Bowl teams over the last six years, the linebacker play was good from those guys.”

    The plan at linebacker was for Nakobe Dean to become a key contributor. Dean’s injuries stymied this design, and the linebackers suffered as a result.

    Of course, it’s not a given that Dean would have been an adequate replacement for T.J. Edwards. Dean couldn’t push his way onto the field as a rookie and he’s entering Year 3 unproven. But Roseman disputed the idea that the Eagles don’t value linebackers. He used the confidence they have in Dean as an explanation. It ended up hurting the Eagles that they did not have enough of an insurance plan for Dean.

    8. Roseman foresaw some of the challenges of 2023 

    Speaking of Edwards, the Eagles knew they were going to lose key contributors from the 2022 team. Roseman told the story of Sirianni walking into his office two days after losing the Super Bowl, and Roseman lamenting the number of quality players and people who would not return in 2023.

    “I knew what was coming. I knew the schedule was going to be harder. I knew that it was probably easier to get the offense to a place quicker than it was the defense,” Roseman said. “We never want to be just kind of in the middle of the pack in both. I feel like a lot of the things that we tried to do last offseason were kind of try to keep our priorities intact about how we like to build the team. We can talk about that and some of the decisions we make. I accept responsibility for whatever we’ve got to do to make sure that when the season falls short of not playing this week and beyond, I’m certainly responsible for that, as well.”

    The Eagles returned most of their offensive starters. They needed to rebuild their defense. Roseman also made the decision to keep cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry and watched C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Epps, Edwards, Kyzir White, and Javon Hargrave sign elsewhere. It’s hard to replace that much talent, and the defense regressed. Roseman sounded bullish about the pieces in place for 2024 relative to how the defense played late in the year.

    “If you go back to when we walked off the field after the Buffalo game and we were 10-1,” Roseman said. “I’ve talked about the time machine, I would take a time machine to do that, that would be a beautiful thing, but we can’t. I think there would be a lot different narrative being told, and we can’t lose sight of the big picture. We have a lot of good people on this football team. We’ve got a lot of good players. We’ve got a lot of good coaches. We’ve got a lot of good people in this building. I look around this building, I couldn’t be more proud of the people. That doesn’t mean we can’t fight through adversity. That doesn’t mean we can’t overcome this and take this back to the level and beyond that we were at last year.

    “It’s not going to take a snap of the fingers. We’ve got to work hard. We’ve got to do whatever we can to have the right people, bring in the right people to do that, but we have a lot of those pieces in place. This cupboard isn’t even close to bare.”

    9. More staff changes are coming

    The changes in offensive and defensive coordinators were the big moves, but expect more disruption on the coaching staff. The new coordinators will likely want their own position coaches and quality control coaches.

    “There’s still some guys that are up in the air,” Sirianni said. “I hate this for them, because we are replacing coordinators, and there’s guys that are up in the air, and their families are up in the air in the sense of — I’ve got to get a coordinator in before we make a decision on maybe some of the quality controls or some of the position coaches. I know I believe in the guys upstairs, but also, there has to be an ability for some of the coordinators to bring in maybe one or two of their guys, or more.”

    Sirianni laments needing to move on from coaches — ”I really can’t explain to you how shitty it feels when you have to do those things,” he said — and he’s seldom done it since becoming the Eagles’ coach. That’s why this offseason marks such a departure for Sirianni. He’s entering Year 4, but there’s a chance that much of his original staff won’t be with him for the first time. 

    “It’s now about bringing in fresh ideas, some different thoughts,” Sirianni said. “Sometimes when you’re with a group of guys, like we’ve been together for three years, that group of guys, but in addition to that, it was a couple of the other guys that I’ve been with for multiple years, as well…just wanted to bring in some fresh ideas.”

    10. What’s Jalen Hurts’ role in all of this? 

    Roseman pushed back on a question wondering what Jalen Hurts’ reaction was to Brian Johnson’s dismissal because it’s “not fair” to Hurts. Last spring, Jeffrey Lurie called Hurts the “most mature” 24-year he had ever met and gave him a contract that made him one of the highest-paid players in the league. On Wednesday, Roseman emphasized that Hurts is “25 years old” and “is continuing to grow.”

    Perhaps it’s leftover feelings from the Carson Wentz era, but Roseman did not want it to seem like Hurts was a driver or impetus in decisions.

    “Whatever the product is at the end of the day, that’s on me, that’s on Coach, and we accept that,” Roseman said. “We don’t ask the players to make these decisions.”

    There’s no minimizing Hurts’ role in the organization. He’s the franchise player. It would make sense for the Eagles to take Hurts’ temperature on what they’re doing. And any change on the offensive staff must be made with the plans of getting Hurts back to 2022 form. The tenor of the season-ending press conference would be considerably different if that comes to fruition. 

    “For 11 weeks this year, he was on top of the MVP talk,” Sirianni said. “We all had a bad stretch through the last portion of it. In fact, there were games, like even though we were in a bad stretch as a team, I thought Jalen was playing really good football. 

    “But I get it; me as the head coach, Jalen as the quarterback, we’re going to draw the most scrutiny and the most attention and eyes, and we understand that in the seats that we sit in, but I know that the things that Jalen needs to work on and the things that we’ll sit down together and talk about, no doubt in my mind that he’s going to bust his ass to do that because that’s who he is. That’s who he’s been since the day he’s got here. That’s why he continues to develop in things that people thought were negative for him in the past that he’s made into a strength.

    “I have no doubt about the person doing that because I’ve seen him do it. I’ve seen him do it over and over again, and I look forward to him doing it with this off-season with all the things that we talk about for all of us to improve on.”

    Stay Ahead of the Game: Sign Up for the PHLY Daily

    Subscribe now to receive exclusive content, insider insights, and exciting updates right in your inbox.

      Scroll to next article

      Don't like ads?
      Don't like ads?
      Don't like ads?