Nick Sirianni: Culture Shifter?

“He looked like a deer in headlights. I don’t know what the hell he was talking about. He was mumbling his words.”

ESPN Analyst Stephen A. Smith on First Take after Sirianni’s introductory press conference

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni certainly did not woo people during his introductory press conference. In fact, his ability to coach was questioned. Many thought that the hire was a bust.

Just over two months later, the story has changed.

On April 6th, the Philadelphia Eagles posted a one-on-one film breakdown session with Sirianni. His energy was contagious.

So contagious that it spread like wildfire through Eagles social media.

But how did we get here? It was not too long ago that videos of Sirianni stuttering flooded Twitter feeds. Stories upon stories were created about how he was unfit for this position after a rough first day with the media. Did Sirianni suddenly find a vat of charisma at the end of the rainbow?

Or has he always been this charismatic?

To understand where the fans stand with Sirianni now, let’s go back to his first interview as head coach. He sat down with Eagles Insider host Dave Spadaro. It was evident that Sirianni was passionate about the game of football. His face lit up the most discussing the X’s and O’s. To most fans and writers, he seemed like the bright-eyed coach the Eagles need for a rebuild such as this.

His first press conference painted a different picture to a broader audience.

For starters, Sirianni came to the podium after owner Jeffery Lurie talked in circles for fifteen minutes. It was his first press conference as a head coach. He was thrust into a festering quarterback controversy with little to no help from his general manager or owner.

It was the perfect storm for a disaster for Sirianni.

Fumbled words, underdeveloped thoughts and incomplete answers left a sports world confused, perplexed and angry. No one received the answers they wanted. Some received no answers at all. In the span of twenty minutes, Sirianni managed to make Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell look like a genius.

The result?

The Philadelphia Eagles became the laughing stock of the league yet again. The focus turned to more eye-catching hires and moves in the NFL. The general public had formed their opinion on Sirianni. There was no need for Sirianni to speak anymore because since he can’t get through a couple of tough questions from Philadelphia sportswriters, he surely can’t make it as an NFL head coach.

Right?

Not so fast.

The idea that a coach must be a suave, smooth talker in order to be successful is an invalid thought. Take, for instance, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belicheck. His press conferences tend to be dry and his responses are short. Yet he is considered to be one of the best head coaches in NFL history.

Why?

It is because he can coach his players. The goal of an NFL coach is not to be the best public speaker. It’s to win games. A coach does that not in a press conference, but on the field. A coach must reach his players, relate to them and extract whatever necessary to help him be successful.

Sirianni’s charm is not in his ability to answer questions. It is in his passion for and knowledge of football.

These traits could lead to potentially great things for the Eagles.

It is no secret that the culture around the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles team was tense. Terrible on the field results coupled with off the field drama ripped the familial culture Pederson seemed to pride himself on creating. Heading into a rebuild three years removed from a Super Bowl victory, the new coaches on the block must work to create a new identity for the Eagles.

There are few better coaches for that task than Nick Sirianni.

During his film breakdown with Fran Duffy, Sirianni highlighted the celebration of players on the sideline after Indianapolis Colts tight end Mo-Alie Cox turned a checkdown play into a first down. Just looking back on that play excited Sirianni. He feeds off of high energy and his players follow suit.

Energetic locker rooms are not a new concept to the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, it played a crucial role in the Super Bowl in 2017. Three years later, that energy is zapped. A new spark is needed to rekindle that energy. A passionate and energetic locker room can take a team to the next level quickly.

Alabama men’s basketball has just come off its most successful season in quite a while. Second-year head coach Nate Oats has already created an energetic culture. The star power was already there from former Alabama basketball head coach Avery Johnson’s recruiting. What was lacking was the right environment for the players to grow in.

A coach must be able to extract their players’ passion. That passion can turn into their success on the field. The key for Alabama men’s basketball team was Oats not letting up on his players. After a tough December loss to Western Kentucky, Oats got the team rolling. The team found a second gear. Passion from Oats spilled over to the team, which spilled over to the fans. This sparked the Crimson Tide’s run to their first SEC title since 1991 and first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2004. The difference between an Avery Johnson-led Alabama basketball team and a Nate Oats-led team is not the players. Rather, it is the newfound desire to never settle for less than their best.

Sirianni has shown time and time again just how passionate he is about football. The clip of Cox’s run shows his players feed off of it. A man who stumbled over his words is slowly but surely winning the hearts of Eagles fans by being himself. He is also setting the precedent of the team’s identity effectively. Sirianni has stated several times that he wants his players to be passionate.

What good is it for the player to be passionate, but not the coach? A head coach is just as important to a cultural shift as the players. Sirianni understands this. It is a part of his core philosophy as a coach. This twenty-five minute video shows how Sirianni lives out his philosophies every day.

Will Sirianni be able to get the results Nate Oats did in two years? Time will tell. But, Sirianni is already one step ahead as far as laying the foundation down now.

“Hopefully, you can feel how excited I am right now.”

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni discussing his excitment level after Mo-Alie Cox’s run

The Eagles can ill afford to settle next season. The blueprint for the Eagles’ new identity is already being laid out by the head coach. He exudes energy and passion. He expects the same from his players.

Eagles fans have started to see the vision. The question is: will others begin to see it too?

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