PHILADELPHIA – Josh McDaniels being fired eight games into his second season with the Las Vegas Raiders evoked memories of the 2021 coaching search in Philadelphia because McDaniels was described as a finalist before the Eagles pivoted and found the relatively unknown Nick Sirianni.
The weeds of that narrative need to be fleshed out a bit to be understood, however.
McDaniels, a failure at his first try in the big chair with Denver and somewhat of a wild card after leaving Indianapolis at the altar in 2018 was recommended to Jeffrey Lurie. It was the owner who shifted gears with the belief that no matter the admirable intentions in the moment, ultimately GM Howie Roseman and McDaniel would butt heads.
Lurie, the only man with veto power in the organization, decided to keep looking until he found someone who jumped off the page and the rest is history.
Sirianni is flourishing after a rocky start and has had the NFL’s best record for an astounding 26 consecutive regular-season weeks and counting.
To be fair, however, the NFL isn’t a vacuum even though most pundits treat it as such. You can never know what McDaniels might have done in a better organization with a stronger GM and greater personnel at his disposal but it’s hard to envision any coach having greater success than Sirianni over his first two-plus years with the Eagles. Perhaps, getting over the hump in Super Bowl LVII is the only wiggle room.
Sirianni has a 30-12 career record with the Eagles, the highest regular-season winning percentage (.714) in franchise history, and is second to former Philadelphia coach and current Kansas Coty mentor Andy Reid over that timeframe (.762 at 32-10). Take out Sirianni’s 2-5 startup costs and the Eagles coach is 28-7 over his last 35 games, a mind-numbing .800 win clip and Philadelphia is 24-2 over the last 26 games Jalen Hurts has started at quarterback.
Greatness often gets hidden by the moment but make no mistake, these are the best days in modern Eagles history by a wide margin.
And the Sirianni decision is one where Lurie can legitimately spike the football, unlike his claimed draft acumen of only getting involved when Lane Johnson, Russell Wilson, and Jordan Mailata were being discussed.
The teaching point here isn’t about being lucky rather than good like in 2016 when Adam Gase asked for the moon and Ben McAdoo was pried back out of the Eagles’ grasp by the New York Giants before Doug Pederson returned to the organization, or even the sentiment that the best decisions are often the ones you don’t make.
Remember Lurie waived off the McDaniels recommendation before finding Sirianni and that’s an actual decision.
You have to dig around for a third cliche to better understand this one – ‘if you’re hiring a scheme you’re doing it wrong.’
Even after finishing as an abject disaster with the Broncos, flashing a lack of professionalism with the Colts, and doubling down on all of that in his stint in Las Vegas, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone in the NFL who will try to downplay McDaniels’ talent as an offensive mind.
A head-coaching position in the NFL is about managing people first and foremost, however.
Ironically, it was Sirianni’s abandonment of play-calling before Week 9 of his rookie season, a sign of weakness to the uneducated, that validated his greatest strength – leaving the ego at the door.
Now if Lurie decided to move from Pederson earlier in the 2021 hiring cycle and the hot candidates at the time would have seriously considered Philadelphia — think Arthur Smith, Robert Saleh, and Brandon Staley — there’s your luck.