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New Eagles coach Sirianni didn't win the press conference, is that a problem?


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As far as first impressions go, you probably  expected much more from Nick Sirianni than his stammering, awkwardly glancing down at notes, and trying nervously to evade questions about the Eagles' quarterback situation during his introductory press conference Friday.

It certainly didn't jibe with what Eagles' chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said about the 10- to 12-hour interview over two days with Sirianni. Then again, Lurie's opening statement Friday lasted 16 minutes, so perhaps Lurie did most of the talking then, too.

WHO'S THE QB? Nick Sirianni got a lot of questions on Eagles' quarterback situation and didn't have many answers

LOOKING FOR CLUES: Wentz or Hurts? From Eagles' owner to new coach to his staff, some clues as to the 2021 QB

But Sirianni won't ultimately be judged on his non-polished responses, such as when he was asked about a time-frame for naming a starting quarterback between Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts. 

"As far as the starter, haven't really thought about that yet and naming a starter," Sirianni said. "That hasn't even crossed my mind."

Really? 

It's safe to say that the subject of quarterbacks came up often during the interview with Lurie. Heck, that probably took up 9½ of the 10 to 12 hours. And it's safe to say that Sirianni answered those questions the way Lurie wanted or else he wouldn't have been hired.

Of course, we don't know what was said in that interview, or what Sirianni and Wentz talked about, because Sirianni wouldn't say.

But we do know that Wentz had by far his worst season, reportedly felt his relationship with previous coach Doug Pederson was "fractured beyond repair," and that Wentz, even with the new hire, might still not be thrilled with the organization.

It's also possible that Sirianni isn't sold on Wentz, just like Wentz might not be sold on Sirianni. 

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Whether or not that's the case, it's much more important for Sirianni to win the locker room than it is to win the press conference.

And this could be Sirianni's toughest task.

We have seen coaches come in and win over press conferences before. Few have given a better opening press conference than Chip Kelly, who famously said about the possibility of coaching again in college: "I've burned the boats. I'm not going back."

Kelly lost the locker room after two seasons. He lost his job before the third season was finished. And yes, he's coaching in college.

Few have given worse opening pressers than Andy Reid, who stayed for 14 seasons, went to a Super Bowl and five NFC Championship games. Unless you count Doug Pederson's opening presser, and he won the franchise's only Super Bowl.

So Sirianni has to convince veterans like defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, offensive linemen like Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce, and cornerback Darius Slay that he knows what he's doing, more so than Anthony from Langhorne.

All of those players are in their 30s, and all of them have been around long enough to know when a coach has command of a team or not. 

Slay, for example, will be playing for his fifth NFL coach as he enters his ninth season. For Graham and Kelce, it will be their fourth head coach.

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Martin Frank on Eagles hiring Nick Sirianni as coach
The Eagles are hiring former Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni to be their next head coach.
Martin Frank, Delaware News Journal

But there's more to that locker room dynamic.

Lurie said after firing Pederson that the Eagles are entering a "transitional period," and that he fired Pederson because Pederson was more consumed with winning in 2021 than he was about formulating a long-range plan for success.

And perhaps this is what he saw in Sirianni, to make the transition from veterans, possibly including Wentz and almost certainly tight end Zach Ertz, to a young team led by players like running back Miles Sanders, tight end Dallas Goedert, wide receiver Jalen Reagor and Hurts.

That's true for Sirianni's coaching staff as well.

Like Sirianni, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson are all in their 30s, with a combined 1.5 years of experience in their current NFL roles.

That certainly doesn't sound like a staff that's looking to win now.

Neither does this statement from Sirianni: "I'm 39 years old, I'm part of a team. That's unbelievable. We all should feel so lucky to be a part of that team."

Yes, that was awkward.

But this wasn't, at least in Lurie's eyes: 

"The core values that I believe in that are important to any good team that I really want to make sure that we have here with the Philadelphia Eagles ... is to connect with each other," Sirianni said. "That's so important to me, is that we have a building here where everyone is connecting. Coaches are connecting to coaches, players are connecting to players, and coaches are connecting to players."

In the grand scheme of things, that hardly conjured up images of Knute Rockne's speech of going out there and winning one for the Gipper.

But as Lurie put it, what works best in "modern football today, modern sports today, is to care very much about the players and coaches you work with."

To Lurie, Sirianni cares a lot, and this is how he will be judged. 

"It became apparent that this is a very special communicator, not just a brilliant football IQ," Lurie said. "(That) was very evident early on as we went through how he game plans, how he attacks defenses, how he maximizes personnel. It's not just relying on a scheme, but how to each week attack exactly who you're playing, what their strengths and weaknesses are in great detail.

"Much more than that, he's somebody who connects with everybody."

If "everybody" means the Eagles players and coaches – and not necessarily the media and fans – then Sirianni will succeed. 

If not, there could very well be a new coaching search in three seasons.

Martin Frank, sports reporter

Martin Frank, sports reporter

I cover the Philadelphia Eagles for the News Journal. I've learned that there's never an offseason for a team that has such a hold over people in Delaware. I enjoy bringing that passion for the Birds to readers, whether it's in-season or out, a Super Bowl run or the drama leading up to the draft. But I mostly enjoy bringing you the stories of the players, from the 53rd man on the roster to star quarterback Carson Wentz. Your support as a News Journal subscriber enables me to bring those stories to you.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.