PHILADELPHIA – Known for the occasional filibuster when things are going well Nick Sirianni’s reaction to taking back play-calling for the struggling Philadelphia Eagles was as condensed as possible.
“No,” the head coach said before leaving open air for the follow-up.
“What’s behind that thinking?” a reporter asked.
“I feel good with the people that we have in this building,” said Sirianni. “We’re 10-3. We’re in control of our own destiny [in the division], and we’re going to keep rolling and finding answers with the people that we have.”
There are no official records for these things but the expectations for these Eagles after a second consecutive 10-1 start are so out of whack that a two-game losing streak, albeit an ugly one in which Philadelphia has been outscored by a combined 75-32 score, has the sharks circling in South Philadelphia.
One prominent local columnist recommended that Sirianni bring in his old mentor Frank Reich to save the season and one fan showed up at the NovaCare Complex first thing Monday morning with a sign asking the organization to fire defensive coordinator Sean Desai.
The context of that is that even after the two difficult losses the Eagles are tied for the best record in the NFL for the 33rd consecutive regular-season week.
Outside of the Delaware Valley, the locals look a little nuts.
First things first.
Those who know Sirianni understand he himself is not taking play-calling back. The now third-year mentor learned from his 2-5 start back in 2021 that the job is too big to get bogged down in the weeds, at least from his perspective.
An offensive coach, Sirianni’s stamp comes in the preparation process and it remains his game plan each week with built-in options for the game-day pilot be that former OC Shane Steichen, now the head coach in Indianapolis, or current OC Brian Johnson.
That’s not to say Sirianni doesn’t have the right to change his mind but that would more likely look like a shift to passing game coordinator and associate head coach Kevin Patullo than Sirianni himself.
That said there is no evidence that Sirianni has any concerns over Johnson and what he’s done to date for what is still the No. 8 offense in the NFL, the No. 3 third-down offense and No. 1 fourth-down offense.
Sunday night’s 33-13 loss to Dallas was the first time in the Sirianni-Jalen Hurts era, however, that the Eagles failed to score an offensive touchdown.
Defensively, Desai is standing on much shakier ground with his defense ranking No. 22 in the league and especially poor in situational football, a Sirianni point of interest. The Philadelphia defense is dead last in third-down defense and 30th in red-zone defense.
Sirianni again offered up a vote of confidence, though.
“Total confidence. That’s why we hired him for the job,” Sirianni said on Desai. “I think really where it is, the yards pile up on you when you are giving up some third downs.”
The angst is much more understandable on that side of the football and the head coach is aware of that.
“It’s also the truth when bad things are happening, too,” he said. “… But to single somebody out, one person out, is not the right move here. It’s how do we get better as a team? And we have to get better as a team. Make no mistake about it. But that’s where we are there.”
Sirianni then again addressed situational football.
“In regard to what needs to be fixed on defense] I think it’s more that situational,” he noted. “You bleed a little bit in the yardage areas when you’re staying on the field on third downs. The big one is third down and being able to get off the field in third downs. Obviously, we haven’t been good enough there.”