Philadelphia Eagles: Nick Sirianni left his mark on first career win

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Nick Sirianni has been the Philadelphia Eagles‘ head coach since January.

He was involved in free agency, the draft, and, by all accounts, ran a very successful training camp that unearthed a few on-roster gems like Quez Watkins and Tyree Jackson.  But as far as the record books are concerned, Sirianni didn’t officially enter the annals of Eagles history until he coached his first game with a bright white bird gracing his lapel.

That, my friends, happened on a temperate afternoon in Atlanta, and fortunately for Eagles fans the world over, it resulted in a win.

Was that fortunate outcome all on the head coach? No. Jonathan Gannon‘s defense certainly played into his team’s success, as did Jalen Hurts‘ on-field improvisational skills, but as is the mark of a good coach, Nick Sirianni’s fingerprints were all over the Philadelphia Eagles’ first win of the 2021 NFL season.

The Philadelphia Eagles turned in a fantastic debut under Nick Sirianni.

In the NFL, teams have certain signature elements.

The Tennessee Titans like to win with power, the New England Patriots are elite users of the horizontal passing game, and the Arizona Cardinals like to spread things out with a modified version of the air raid.

But what would Nick Sirianni’s offense look like for the Philadelphia Eagles? Would he transplant Frank Reich’s scheme from Indianapolis, which itself is a more advanced version of the Eagles’ 2017 offense? Or would he incorporate elements from the Chargers, where Shane Steichen coached from 2014-20?

Well, as it turns out, the Eagles’ offense is a little bit of both, plus a little bit of the Kansas City Cheifs, the Detroit Lions- where offensive assistant Jim Bob Cooter was the offensive coordinator 2016-18 – and a few more wrinkles that are all Sirianni’s own.

Like Doug Pederson, Sirianni went heavy on screens early in the outing, went no-huddle at the end of quarters, and even went for it on fourth down on multiple occasions. However, unlike Pederson, Sirianni’s offense was schematically varied, utilized the running backs well, and actually spaced open receivers with creative play calling.

What? You can actually scheme open receivers? I know other teams can do that, but are the Eagles allowed to?

Sirianni took advantage of Hurts’ athleticism both on designed runs and when plays broke down and seemingly always gave him a check-down option when down-the-field plays didn’t come together.

But wait, it gets better.

Unlike other head coaches who have called the City of Brotherly Love home -you know the ones – Sirianni actually put his players in the best position to succeed, optimizing Jalen Reagor‘s agility on screens, calling a diverse selection of routes for DeVonta Smith, and even calling vertical routes for tight ends where they can transform into downfield blockers.

Heck, Sirianni even got some good play out of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as the second coming of Riley Cooper, which isn’t the best return on investment for a former second-round pick but is better than how he was used in the past.

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Now granted, this was the Philadelphia Eagles’ first game under a completely (midnight) green coaching staff. They don’t have a single coach with former head coaching experience, let alone a resume filled with play-calling opportunities. Opposing teams will eventually have enough tape to scheme for what they like to do, and Philly will have to adjust accordingly to remain the aggressors. But today, darn, it feels good to have Nick Sirianni as the Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach, as he turned in one heck of a debut performance under a similarly fresh Atlanta coaching staff.