From his very first day as the Eagles' head coach, Nick Sirianni has been the real deal. An authentic article. He lives and breathes "ball," and he's eager to share a story. It is one of the ways he connects, an important pillar of his football program. Sirianni brings with him an abundance of energy and enthusiasm and genuine care, and his players know that.
They know it and they love it. As the Eagles prepare for the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Sirianni continues to build the foundation in South Philadelphia. He knows that the desired results are not yet apparent to all, but it's coming. Everyone knows it's coming.
"We're trusting the process and we're on the verge of cracking this thing open," wide receiver Quez Watkins said on Thursday from the NovaCare Complex. "Everybody in the building can feel it."
Watkins pointed to the way the team has bonded and how it has fought each and every week. Center Jason Kelce said the same thing a day earlier, emphatically saying that the team is "buying in" to what Sirianni and the coaching staff has presented. "The only way we're going to get better is by sticking together and continuing to fight," he said.
With that, Sirianni is sticking to his plan. He's doubling down on what he knows and what he's seen work in the past. The head coach has been remarkably consistent with his messaging from the moment he addressed the entire team in the spring and in Training Camp. His team meetings usually contain a story that has multiple meanings but ultimately boils down to T-E-A-M, focus, and incrementally improving with trust and resolve.
"He's still being Nick, preaching the message of getting better every single day," Kelce said. "Obviously, we're trying to figure out ways to get more productive on the field. We had more under-center runs last week (at Las Vegas), we're trying to find ways to get this offense going and put up points and move the ball. Defensively, they're trying to do the same thing. I think Nick is doing a good job of continuing to harp on the message of every single day you're coming in and we're trying to get better – coaches, players, everybody. That's all you can do. That's what we're doing right now."
Safety Rodney McLeod wanted to see how the team would react to the loss in Las Vegas. Players talked among themselves on the flight home about what direction the team would take, and so when the team returned to the practice field on Wednesday, McLeod saw that "players showed up ready to work. It's the only way we're going to get out of this, to grind and work together and win a game."
That all circles back to Sirianni, seven games into his head coaching career. He has worked hard to create opportunities for the players and coaches to know each other, trust each other, and play for each other. It is a message of faith that resonates.
"He's very relatable," McLeod said. "He's played this game himself, not at this level, but he understands the things we go through. His character, his energy is always good. He's always staying positive and he makes an emphasis on connecting, getting to know his players. I think that's why, regardless of our record and the position that we sit in right now, we have stayed together and that guys still believe in one another and believe in him."
There is no higher compliment and no more important message than that. Every coach and every team experiences tough times. The strong survive. The Eagles are staying strong. Sirianni's messaging from Day 1 has had a lasting impact, reinforced in many ways every day at the NovaCare Complex.
"He just has a way of getting everyone going and everyone buys in," rookie tight end Jack Stoll said. "I don't have anything else to compare it to at this level, but that's the kind of head ball coach I want, someone who can rally the troops and really get us going and steer everyone in the right direction. I think he's continued to do that. Obviously, the record we have is unacceptable and not what we want, but he's done an unbelievable job of keeping everybody close. You don't see anyone veering off with their heads down or anything like that. I think he's done a tremendous job of just keeping us together and that's a huge testament to him and his staff."
Said linebacker T.J. Edwards: "One thing I love about our team meetings is you really don't know what to expect and you're always going to leave with something you truly remember about how the talk went. I think that's something that's awesome about what coach does – keeping it fresh with us. At the end of the day, we're all here for a reason. We're obviously disappointed with how the season is going so far but there is no 'stop' in us at all."