Shamus Clancy: Nick Sirianni’s passion is his best attribute
This past Sunday’s matchup with the Colts was supposed to be a sentimental one for Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni. He spent 2018 through 2020 as the offensive coordinator in Indianapolis under Frank Reich, who, coincidentally, was the Eagles’ OC when the team won their first Super Bowl title in 2017. It would’ve been special for Sirianni, who views Reich as a big mentor in his coaching life.
That didn’t go quite as planned. Reich, in his fifth season in Indy, was fired after a 3-5-1 start to the year and replaced by former Colts center Jeff Saturday, who had never coached a game at the college or pro level before becoming Indianapolis’ coach. Sirianni wasn’t too happy about that decision.
In the aftermath of the Eagles’ comeback win over the Colts, Sirianni went over to a group of Birds fans in the stands at Lucas Oil Stadium and was his usual ra-ra self with them. He ran over the crowd and yelled, “This s–t is for Frank Reich!” Here’s a video of the interaction:
I was right there on the front row just out of camera range when he came over. There were so many Eagles fans in the front two rows. He was talking to us. Others don’t really understand how many of us show up at away games pic.twitter.com/NZIKKi9BcS
— Sly Bri (@djslybri) November 21, 2022
I love it. Sirianni is a real human being. He’s not a robot like Bill Belichick. He’s not Chip Kelly, lacking emotional intelligence. He’s not going to be Andy Reid and say, “I could’ve done better,” after every postgame press conference. He wears his heart on his sleeves. The Ted Lasso comparisons have been endless ever since Sirianni’s painfully awkward introductory press conference in January 2021. Sometimes it gets messy like his infamous “flower” speech, but that blooming talk actually proved correct after the Eagles rebounded from a 2-5 start to go 9-8 and make the playoffs. He sounded so weird, but he was right!
Sirianni loves Eagles fans too. It’s an “iron sharpens iron” situation where their respective energy meshes so well. Call it pandering if you’d like, but the dude is all about wearing bootleg t-shirts and Phillies gear while conversing with the media. He may be from Jamestown, NY, but he’s quickly becoming From Here.
Putting yourself out there in any aspect of life is going to open you up to criticism. Stuff like this permeated Twitter after the Eagles beat the Colts:
If you ignore any semblance of context, an outsider might think that’s strange. It’s not about beating a mediocre-to-bad Colts team starting the corpse of Matt Ryan and a clueless head coach. This runs deep.
“I’m emotional because I love Frank Reich,” Sirianni said after the win to reporters. “I really do. He’s one of the best damn football coaches I’ve ever been around. Yeah, I was hoping him and I would be able to coach against each other in this game, but he is one my of biggest mentors.”
Clearly, Sirianni believes Reich getting canned for a complete novice is an asinine move.
“You don’t want to know what I think if he should be here or not,” Reich continued. “You guys can probably imagine what I really think. I love him and so I got a little bit emotional about that.”
Maybe those same outsiders view him as unlikable:
Know who doesn’t? His players. They respect his authenticity. Inside and outside of football, that’s about all you can ask of a person: be your authentic self.
“Just very emotional,” Eagles pass-rusher Haason Reddick said about Sirianni’s postgame message to the team. “He coached here recently with the Colts and I’m just happy we were able to come together, fight, get ourselves back into the game and win it for him. I know how much it mean to beat and get a W over a team that you have played for or coached for… I’m just glad we were able to do that.”
Perhaps Sirianni’s vibes wear thin if the team starts losing. Winning cures all. Through two years, however, Sirianni took an afterthought of a team to the playoffs and is now taking a team expected to be pretty good to a Super Bowl frontrunner.
Sirianni is going to go to war for his guys, whether it’s screaming bloody murder at referees or showing up the Colts’ infrastructure after they unceremoniously let go of a person who helped shape his coaching career. It’s admirable. I truly don’t believe it’s for show. Interacting with him this season before practices and after games, this is who he is, a coach who cares deeply about his players and doesn’t care about what anyone else thinks.
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