You have only one chance to make a good first impression. Nick Sirianni, the next head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, did not do that in his introductory press conference on Friday. He appeared nervous, stumbled over his words, and generally did not give off the appearance of competence.
What did Sirianni do?
An introductory press conference should set the tone for what fans should expect from the team. The coach should put fans at ease and give them confidence for what is to come, especially since they most likely are there to replace a coach who was less successful. While this isn’t strictly the same thing, Jim Tressel’s introductory speech to the Ohio State University student body in 2001 is a great example of this.
If Nick Sirianni was trying to set the tone for his Eagles tenure, he did not set the right one. Throughout the entire press conference, Sirianni looked like a high schooler forced to give a presentation on a topic he didn’t study for. Fans latched onto one moment as a point of concern. In the clip above, he mentioned how he hoped to make the Eagles a “smart” football team. What followed…well, just listen.
Next thing that’s very important to me is that we build a smart football team. That we have a smart football team here, and I know we have the people in place to do that. The first part of being smart is knowing what to do. We’re going to…we’re going to have systems in place that are easier to learn. Alright, complicated to the defense or offense that they’re going against, or the special teams group they’re going against, but easy for us to learn. Because when we can learn our system, and we can get good at our system, then our talent can take over.Nick Sirianni, NFL head coach
Was Sirianni’s entire press conference that bad?
Besides that questionable slip of the tongue, there were few answers in this presser for Eagles fans to absorb. At least, few reassuring answers.
The most concerning talking point related to his relationship with general manager Howie Roseman. Toward the end of the press conference, Sirianni had this to say.
Howie has final say over the 53. I believe I have the say over the 47 on gameday, of what we need to go through the game and the pieces that we need. As far as picking the players and helping to pick the players, I really look forward to working with Howie and his staff to help get the players in here that help fit to what we want to do offensively and defensively. We work with what we have.Nick Sirianni
Howie Roseman is a divisive figure. On one hand, he was the general manager who built the 2017 Eagles’ Super Bowl champion roster. On the other hand, he has consistently whiffed on draft picks and trades ever since, all the while staying in the good graces of owner Jeffrey Lurie.
After the Eagles’ disastrous 2020 season, Lurie sided with Roseman over now-former head coach Doug Pederson. Despite the stormy end to Pederson’s tenure, the consensus among Eagles fans is that this was a mistake. The revelation that Roseman will still be the top dog in the organization will probably not be welcome news.
Is this a bad omen for the Eagles?
In fairness to Sirianni, it’s not like he’s walking into an ideal situation. This will be Nick Sirianni’s first head coaching job anywhere, not just the NFL. He spent the prior three seasons serving as the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts.
His new team has just finished as the worst team in the worst division in NFL history. Like his predecessor, he will have little to no say in personnel decisions. As if that weren’t enough, he will have to juggle a quarterback controversy in his first season. If anything, it’s a miracle that Sirianni was even as composed as he was.
Keep in mind that this same fanbase was famously quick to dismiss Donovan McNabb when the Eagles selected him over Ricky Williams in the 1999 NFL Draft. McNabb would have a successful career with the Eagles and lead the team to a Super Bowl. Perhaps the fans have similarly jumped the gun on Sirianni.
Or perhaps they haven’t and the Eagles are walking into a disaster.