He is going through everything for the first time, so it's fair to have a sense of uncharted territory for Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni. Things are moving quickly as the NFL steams toward the opening of the 2021 business year (March 17) and he's hardly had a breath. His view of Philadelphia is the NovaCare Complex to the hotel, and of the hotel to the NovaCare Complex.
That's OK with Sirianni, who has his coaching staff in place and who has a chance every day to do what he loves to do: Talk ball. He's a ball coach. Talk to him – and I've done so twice and have been enveloped in his energy and his genuine nature and the passion that he has for the game of football and the challenge ahead – and the game is what consumes him. He loves what he has going, just one month into his new gig.
Now, there are some things that Sirianni will address later, when the new business year begins. Those are the rules of the NFL. One thing he spoke to me about recently was the new coaching staff he now has in place, one that came from a combination of coaches with whom he's worked in the past, coaches he learned about through reputation and references, and coaches who just plain knocked his socks off during the interview process.
"You know, you have a variety of guys on the staff that I've had previous relationships with and I think I've mentioned this before that when you have that previous relationship with that person, right, you've essentially, let's say you've spent a year or two years or three years or four years with that person, they've had a three- or four-year interview process, right? So you want the best people on your staff that helped develop the players," Sirianni said. "That's what it's all about. Then there's guys that you've heard about through other people, or you know, somebody else that might not be a direct contact to me, but maybe somebody on the staff, you know? So it was always about the interview process.
"And then it was the vetting of that person. Calling around. It wasn't too much to call 10, 15, 20 people that have worked with that coach in the past and see if that all checks out – if what you're hearing is checking out from the people that have spent that year or two with that person. So great process. And again, some people, some of the guys were, we didn't know at all, nobody knew. It was just, 'Hey, this is a good coach. He's available. This is a good coach in the college game. He's available. This is a good coach in the NFL game. He's available.' OK, let's go through that same interview process and let's go through that same vetting process. We're asking the questions, but then, 'Oh, man, that was a good idea! Oh, that was a good idea!' So, what an experience!"
That's the kind of guy Sirianni is in his first head coaching position. There is obviously a lot going on with a team that has a roster in transition, and Sirianni is learning new steps every day. An experience? A good one? A crazy one? And why?
"We got to learn a lot of ball, right? Like, we got to learn a lot of ball and that's what we do," Sirianni said. "We're ball coaches. So, it was a great process. It was long, and it was tedious, but I know it made us better as a staff. We got the right pieces in my mind in here. And then also, it's made us better as a staff because we were just talking ball day in, day out."
Talking ball. That's what he does. We have ourselves a young head coach who is learning more every day about the responsibilities of the job. He's heading into this thing full force, all systems go, and while there are going to be mistakes made along the way – everyone makes them – Sirianni is going to do it the way he does it: with an infectious passion. Everyone loves him. He's the kind of guy the players will want to play for and the coaches will want to coach for.
In the end, the wins are what matters, and we will judge Nick Sirianni when the Eagles hit the field in the regular season starting in September. Until then, what we know is what we know. And I've had two sit-downs with him – albeit virtually – and the guy just oozes energy and knowledge and love of the sport and of the Eagles and that's a great way to start a head coaching career.