Eagles' Nick Sirianni showing the football world he's a great coach


Sirianni showing the football world he's a great coach originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Nick Sirianni didn't blink.

NFC Championship Game. Tied score. First half. Fourth-and-1. From their own 34-yard line.

Of course Sirianni went for it. Of course he stayed aggressive. Because that's his style of coaching, that's what got the Eagles into the conference title game and after preaching all week to treat this game like any other, Sirianni wasn't going to wimp out.

"I don't know how Sirianni walks around with the set of cojones that he has," Jordan Mailata told reporters after the game, via Martin Frank of the Delaware News Journal. "That's crazy. Fourth down, in a big playoff game? Kudos to him."

The Eagles used a QB sneak on that 4th-and-1 and Jalen Hurts picked up a first down to keep the drive alive. The Eagles capped the drive with a 13-yard Miles Sanders touchdown run and added another score before halftime in their 31-7 blowout win over the 49ers to advance to Super Bowl LVII.

To be fair, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan wouldn't have blinked either. His punter would have been on the field in an instant.

And that's not even really a shot at Shanahan. Because there aren't many coaches who would have gone for that.

Since 1994, this is just the second time a team has truly gone for it on 4th down inside their own 35 in the first half of a playoff game, according to the Stathead database. There have been instances where a team pulled out a fake or tried a desperation play to end the half, but just two true instances of going for it.

The other came in the 2020 divisional round when the Bucs similarly used a QB sneak with Tom Brady on their own 34 on 4th-and-1. They won that game and eventually hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.

That type of aggressiveness is in line with the Eagles' organizational philosophy.

"He's outstanding," owner Jeffrey Lurie said in the victorious locker room. "Much of the offseason is spent on all those situations. He's not surprised by what he needs to do. He knows exactly what he's going to do and he knows it before third downs so he can plan third downs. It's a huge advantage.

"But it's not the kind of think you want to talk a lot about. It's the same with Doug (Pederson). There's certain things that are build into our culture. Nick is very bright, he's comfortable being aggressive. I think that's how you have to be in today's NFL."

It wasn't just that 4th down either (They went 3-for-3 on fourth downs.) In the entire NFC Championship Game, Sirianni and the Eagles clearly out-coached the 49ers. Think about how well-coached a team has to be for a star receiver to pop up after what everyone thought was a catch and signal for the rest of the offense to hurry up and get a snap off.

Think about all those stupid penalties the Niners took in that game and how, for the most part, the Eagles didn't allow themselves to be drawn in.

And think about how prepared the Eagles were in just about every facet of that game.

Sirianni is showing the rest of the NFL world what those of us in Philly have known all season: This dude can flat-out coach.

When did Lurie realize he made the right hire?

"I would say it was last year," Lurie said. "By the end of last year, my evaluation of Nick was outstanding leader. Wants to have an outstanding staff and he did. He put it together with a great culture, coaching culture and playing culture. And worked so well with Howie (Roseman) and his staff and with the analytics staff. Somebody who connects, as he talks about, he put it into action. This guy thinks it through.

"He's comfortable enough with himself to be a wonderful leader. That's part of being a great coach."

That last part is important. Read it again.

And now think about some of the goofy stuff Sirianni does like when he mean-mugged for the camera last week and then wore C.J. Gardner-Johnson's chain in the locker room. Think about some of his sideline temper tantrums. Think about when everyone made fun of him for that flower analogy as the Eagles were struggling through the early part of the 2021 season.

Now realize that everyone who makes fun of Sirianni isn't in the NovaCare Complex. They love him in there. They play hard for him and they have one game left to accomplish their ultimate goal.

The Eagles have bloomed.

And Sirianni deserves his flowers.

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