A 1-2 record. Some concerning injuries. Coming off a loss at Dallas on a short week with the Kansas City Chiefs rolling into town. Yep, Nick Sirianni is facing adversity for the first time as an NFL head coach, and it's something that he faces square on. No dodging it. This is part of the job and, while it's not particularly pleasant, it's something that coaches know is going to happen.
"Adversity is part of NFL football," Sirianni said to me in our weekly one-on-one interview. "The Miami Dolphins, in 1972, they didn't have any adversity (completing the only perfect season in NFL history). The Patriots until that Super Bowl in 2008, didn't have any adversity as far as losses go. But adversity is part of NFL football. The best teams go 12-4. No. 1 seeds go 12-4. Teams that get into the playoffs go 10-6, 9-7, stuff like that.
"You have to have mentally tough people in the building who are able to ride the highs and lows of the season. We knew adversity was going to come. We talked about 'When adversity comes, how are you going to handle it? What are you going to do?' It's really simple for us: We're going to double down on the things that we know to be true, and that is connecting, competing, football IQ, accountability, fundamentals. Dawg mentality.
"Double down on all that you know to be true, and that tide will switch. That's our message."
That's the attitude at the NovaCare Complex on this short week as the Eagles prepare for Kansas City. They know the challenge awaiting on Sunday, and the Eagles are going to be ready to play their best football game of the season. Nobody thought this was going to be a cakewalk. Nothing ever comes easy in this league. So, the Eagles are turning the page. They had a light practice on Wednesday to get the players back and fresh for the week ahead, and the mental approach was nothing but instructive – learning from Monday night's loss – and upbeat and positive.
"I think everybody's going about it the way of being responsible for their actions," quarterback Jalen Hurts said. "I think it's about the attitude that you have, it's about the actions you have and that will breed into belief and confidence and you can execute the things you want to do. We're going to attack the situation we're in and we're going to attack every day moving forward and continue to grow."
That is something important to remember: The Eagles are growing here. They've had a couple of tough weeks and they know the challenge of the Chiefs. All of the players and the coaches call Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes "special" and Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon said he was "generational." In the week-to-week world of the NFL, the Eagles are collectively taking the next step.
All together as a team.
"It's a team effort, man," cornerback Darius Slay said. "We gotta all be together on one thing. Shoot, we've got to do better on the defensive end and turn the ball over more and give the offense more possessions just like the offense has to control the clock. It's all together. We're all tied together. We've just got to be good together as a group. We can't have one side playing good and one side playing bad.
"We do have to lift each other up at times."
The X's and O's of this week are fairly obvious in that Kansas City comes in as a complete team with a veteran coaching staff that's been together for years and a roster that's been restocked and considered a Super Bowl contender. Yet, the Chiefs are 1-2 and having their own set of challenges. Every team has them. Every team has to find a way to work through them. More than anything else, the Eagles have to find a way this week to get back on track and play the kind of game they know they are capable of playing.
"You just want to get back out there, more than anything," defensive tackle Javon Hargrave said. "Get out there and get after it and have some fun. That's what we're aiming to do."