Sirianni is Losing His Mind. What About his job?
After reading through a deluge of emails this morning calling for the firing of Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni, I started the new year by looking up the statistic that would best represent the absurdity of the situation.
As expected, Sirianni has the best winning percentage (.680) of any Eagles head coach who has coached more than one game. He’s almost 100 points better than the (wrongly) beloved Andy Reid (.583).
Statistically, Nick Sirianni is safer in his job than a WIP morning-show host. The radio station switches its morning hosts roughly every 33 years.
And yet, what is happening right now is maybe the strongest case for dismissal I have ever seen for a coach, regardless of his record. Sirianni is 11-5 with one game left, he is already in the playoffs and somehow, he has managed to lose his players, his city and (maybe) his bosses.
Either Sirianni forgot how to coach since halftime of Super Bowl 57 – when the Eagles were up 10 and 30 minutes away from a parade – or his ineptitude was being hidden by his offensive coordinator, Shane Steichen. More and more, it appears that Steichen was the brains behind Sirianni’s early success here.
With a lousy roster in a rebuilding year, Steichen has masterminded the Indianapolis Colts to a 9-7 record. If they win next weekend, the Colts will be in the playoffs. Extraordinary.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are imploding. The 35-31 loss to the woebegone Arizona Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field was the latest testament to Sirianni’s unraveling. The coaching on both sides of the ball was abysmal. So were the coach’s comments after the game.
Offensively, Jalen Hurts has covered up Sirianni and offensive coordinator Brian Johnson’s inadequacies all year. The best plays did not come from the sideline in 2023. They were executed by elite athletes, most notably the quarterback and wide receiver A. J. Brown, improvising amid the chaos.
So what should a fan think when, with the game tied at 28 in the final five minutes, the geniuses calling the offensive plays would opt for two QB runs and then a screen pass to Kenny Gainwell, sandwiched around a holding penalty against Jordan Maliata? The fact that one of the best Eagles, WR DeVonta Smith, was hurt on the screen only compounded the stupidity of the coaching.
The Fox TV cameras smartly remained glued to Brown as he left the field, shaking his head, clearly livid. He had every right to be. After the penalty, Sirianni settled for a field goal and put the game not in the hands of Brown, Smith and D’Andre Swift, but in the clutches of one of the worst defenses the Eagles have ever had.
The rest was painfully predictable. The defense finished off a game in which it allowed 35 points, 449 yards and no stops – not one – that required the services of an Arizona punter.
It is hardly a secret that the defense has been broken for most of the season, including when the Eagles turned a run of incredible luck into a 10-1 start. I went on the radio in San Francisco before the Niners came here and I told the West Coast listeners that the Birds were the worst 10-1 team I had ever seen. I predicted the debacle that would follow, both against SF and the Cowboys.
Three losses later – Seattle undressed them, too, with its backup QB – the panic had set in, and the focus turned where it should have been all season, to the coach.
The fact that Sirianni has been helpless to fix the defense, despite his panic move from one awful coordinator, Sean Desai to another, Matt Patricia – is just the first sign that he is in danger of losing his job.
Even more of an indictment has been his recent dealings with his players, including notable stars Brown and Haasan Reddick. During one of his manic episodes on the sideline, Sirianni lashed out at his two stars, among others, and later admitted he needed to contain his emotions better during games. Duh.
From his very first news conference, Sirianni has not spoken the language of the Eagles fans. He dodges most of the biggest questions, he bobs and weaves his way through all discussions of his dubious strategies, and he offers nothing to soften the blow of a dismal loss.
Once again, he said after the disastrous Arizona loss that the blame starts with him. No kidding. Who did he think we were blaming? Swoop?
Where is Doug Pederson when you need him most?
Oh, yeah. Winning in Jacksonville. I forgot.
The Eagles are toast in the first round this year. How sure am I that they’re one and done? Well, I’ve been saying it here for the past few months. You can look it up.
Now I’ll declare it in an even more succinct way:
The NFC will have two byes this season in the playoffs. The first goes to the San Francisco 49ers. The second goes to whatever team plays the Eagles.
Is this stunning collapse grounds for dismissal of the Eagles head coach with the best winning percentage ever? Has his failure to fix the defense, his awful offensive strategy, and his growing divide with the star players enough to force a change?
Maybe. I know this, for sure. GM Howie Roseman thinks he put together a Super Bowl roster. He always believes that. He will not blame himself for this catastrophic end to a promising season, despite his foolish insistence that linebackers don’t matter in the NFL.
Would I fire Sirianni if he goes one-and-done (which he will)?
Yes, I would. I still don’t think he knows what he’s doing.
Will the Eagles?
I wouldn’t rule it out.
If Pederson – a far superior head coach – could get fired after winning a Super Bowl, why can’t Nick Sirianni face the same fate after losing one?
Stay tuned. The interesting part of the season is just getting started.