Philadelphia Eagles: Nick Sirianni must continue to silence his critics in 2022

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27: Head coach Nick Sirianni of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27: Head coach Nick Sirianni of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /

As you probably recall, things didn’t get off to the greatest of starts for new Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Siranni last season. Plucked from relative obscurity by Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman and tasked with the job of replacing a popular, Super Bowl-winning coach, Sirianni’s hiring felt like a case of a team outsmarting itself to cut the line for “the next big thing”.

Early returns validated this stance.

A season-opening road win in Atlanta and all of the optimism it inspired quickly dissipated thanks to games like an embarrassing blowout in Dallas on Monday Night Football and a befuddling loss in Las Vegas, which left the Eagles at 2-5 and many people questioning Nick Sirianni’s fitness as an NFL head coach. There were the usual calls for him to be fired already, in columns and by radio hosts/callers alike. The Philly fans and media, usually so patient and nurturing when it comes to their sports teams, had already had it with this experiment.

And then, as it often does, something clicked.

A combination of factors came together, and the Eagles started to play winning football. Their schedule let up, with more manageable opponents showing up on their weekly docket. Jalen Hurts and other key players found a groove. And Sirianni, for as admittedly overmatched as he looked during the early part of last year, eased into a rhythm. Just like anyone in any kind of new job, it took time. The Eagles reaped the benefits.

Nick Sirianni must show progress in his second season as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

It wasn’t an all-time performance by a first-year head coach, but Sirianni clearly showed growth in his ability to utilize his active roster, call a game, and manage the clock. At the very least, he put an end to the asinine Rich Kotite comparisons that were being made early in the year. It was great to see, but now it’s time for the next step.

Yes, Nick Sirianni helped milk as much as he could out of a team that wasn’t expected to go anywhere, guiding them to nine wins and a surprise playoff appearance (although let’s not discuss how the postseason turned out). Now, however, he’s been equipped with some new tools. Weapons, if you will.

Expectations are high. The pressure has increased. Nick Sirianni and his club aren’t going to catch some teams and people by surprise like they did last year. Luckily, the Eagles’ schedule once again seems pretty favorable, on paper at least. And the team enters the 2022 campaign about as healthy as one can reasonably expect. But regardless of those factors, there can’t be any excuses for the team not to improve upon Sirianni’s inaugural “stepping stone” season.

While we, the fans and media, all have our sights set on a postseason appearance and maybe a victory or two once the Eagles get there, we also need to ground ourselves in some form of reality. The Eagles will lose games this year. Some of them will probably be ugly. And Nick Sirianni will be questioned and criticized every time he makes an objectively bad decision or has a judgement call blow up in his face. What we need to avoid, however, is the tendency to overreact to everything. Easier said than done, I know. But this is something that Sirianni and his staff can nip in the bud.

By exercising sound judgement, something he showed himself at least partly capable of last year, and utilizing the talent now at his disposal, Nick Sirianni can do himself a big favor for the upcoming season and beyond. His reputation and trajectory as an NFL head coach will come into much sharper focus this year. It’s imperative that he does not regress or stagnate in key areas.

The hope at the time of Sirianni’s hiring, and one that will persist for some time, is that he could turn out to be a Sean McVay-type, one wise beyond his years who simply knows how to win. If the comparison to a championship coach is too ambitious for you, then one can at least hope for a level of success that the likes of Matt LaFleur and Sean McDermott have found thus far in their first tenures as NFL head coaches. Sights should be set high; what’s the point if they’re not?

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One can only assume that, barring an absolute disaster in the next year or two, Nick Sirianni will be given a fair shake to establish himself the way that the last two head coaches the Philadelphia Eagles hired, Andy Reid and Doug Pederson, received. This year, we’ll get a much better idea of how effective Nick Sirianni can be in this role. The importance of the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles season cannot be overstated.