Nick Sirianni
By Dave Spadaro

Photos: Philadelphia Eagles

It’s been quite a season for the Philadelphia Eagles – and their fans. Week after week, we all watched with great pride as Head Coach Nick Sirianni led the team with passion and purpose. Without a doubt, Sirianni has taken us all on a great ride. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro gives us some insight on what drives this successful coach.

Another day, another t-shirt. As head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Nick Sirianni has a thing for t-shirts. His mission is to wear any shirt he can find that helps him promote a message. He wears them with current players on the front. Some have former Eagles – legends from the past – and others have simply a slogan he happens to love. And of course, we can’t forget the t-shirts that celebrate other Philly teams.

For Sirianni, it’s all part of what he loves about the game, this team and this city.

Sirianni has guided this team into the playoffs in each of his 2 seasons here. Every day he’s brought it all to the NovaCare Complex and laid it out for his players to see – every emotion, every request, every need he has for his players. He asks them to pay attention to the details, because if they get “one percent better every day, that’s all I ask,” he says.

“He’s someone you can’t help but like, because he’s just so real,” Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox says. “He isn’t pretending. He is into talking and having a conversation and getting to know you.”

That, right there, is the essence of Sirianni’s coaching technique. He has 5 core values and  Connect is at the top of the list (the others are Compete, Accountability, Football IQ and Fundamentals). There are examples of how to connect throughout the NovaCare Complex – the basketball hoop in the auditorium, the pop-a-shot machine in the strength and conditioning room, videos of player highlights that play all around the locker room and the game room adjacent to the players’ area off the locker room. Sirianni promises that if you engage him in any one of these activities, he will fight to the end of the day to win.

The guy is likable but make no mistake: Sirianni is tenacious. What he’s done in his second campaign as the Eagles’ head coach is historic – he’s the 4th coach in the NFL since 1970 to win 14 games in a single season in either his first or second season at the helm. Everything Sirianni does has a purpose, whether he is standing in front of his team passing on one of his many life lessons, huddling with quarterback Jalen Hurts or working long into the night with his offensive coaches putting a game plan together.

Sirianni is a grinder, and his everyman qualities make the fans who pack into Lincoln Financial Field every week identify with him. He makes them feel like he is one of them.

“I’m extremely grateful to be in this position with this great organization,” Sirianni says. “With that, there is a lot of responsibility, and I take that very seriously. It’s so hard to win in this league. There are 32 teams and we all compete as hard as we can, so what edge can a team have? I believe the teams that are truly working together, who are connected and believe in the good of the team win the most. I will double down on that principle.” 

“Every player is talented, and every player wants what is best for him and the team, so how can I accomplish that as a head coach? How can I instill in our team that, when times are tough, that guy next to you or that coach you work with every day is going to have your back?”

Sirianni’s first major test came in his first year, 2021, when the Eagles started the season 2-5 and faced a crossroads that many teams face. The season could have gone either of 2 ways and one of those directions – where the season collapses with a lost locker room of veterans who don’t respect the rookie head coach – was not an option. Sirianni never blinked. Instead, he doubled down on his core values and told the media he saw roots growing under the surface. He said flowers would come in due time. In response, he was mocked. He was derided, just as he had been when he had a stumble or 2 in his introductory press conference after being named to the position.

Nobody is mocking Sirianni now. He is being hailed as one of the great young head coaches in the NFL, lauded for the work he has done with Hurts, a second-round draft pick in 2020 by former head coach Doug Pederson. Hurts became a full-fledged star in ’22.

With Sirianni as a mentor, Hurts accounted for 35 total touchdowns in the 15 games he started, stamping himself as a legitimate MVP candidate in the league. He also won 14 of those 15 games, and his trademark maturity and flat-lined intensity became a hallmark of the team. 

“Coach Sirianni – we’ve built a great relationship in just a short time and I’ve found out a lot about him as well as him about me. We’re very similar in many ways,” says Hurts. 

“Very competitive. Have a sense of humor. Just cool people. He’s a good guy. It strengthens the relationship that much more. That’s something you need. It’s core value No. 1 with us, it’s connecting. It’s something you need, and it’s very important. It goes beyond football. It’s personal and that’s something that matters to me.”

Sirianni’s t-shirt collection is a sign of this unique connection.  It’s kitschy, and it’s fun. He’s seen as the one who brings the college-like, rah-rah energy to the Eagles, and the team has bought into it. Every single one of them.

“At first you kind of go, ‘Is this for real?’ But that’s just who Nick is,” center Jason Kelce says. 

“He’s a genuine guy who puts everything into it. He’s also a brilliant football guy, and that’s important as well. He puts the players first. He is accountable for what he does, and I think that’s really important. If you’re going to tell us to be accountable, you also have to accept it, and he does.”

“I truly mean this when I say it’s fun every day when I walk into the building,” Kelce adds. “And who can say that about their job? Nick makes it fun because that’s the culture he sets here. High expectations, go out and win games and have fun doing it. That’s how we do things around here.”

Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro has covered every Eagles game since 1987 and is seen and heard throughout the year on television, radio and Eagles coverage everywhere. You can hear his Eagles Live Podcast on iTunes.

February 2023
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