Eagles coach Nick Sirianni's job is safe … but for how long?

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni's job is safe … but for how long? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Twelve years ago this month, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie held a press conference at the NovaCare Complex to reveal Andy Reid’s future.

In 2011, Reid’s 13th season here, the Eagles had opened up 4-8 before four meaningless wins to end the season gave them a deceptive 8-8 record.

And when Lurie started throwing out words like “ludicrous,” “unfathomable” and “unacceptable” to describe the season, everybody in the room was sure he was about to fire Big Red.

“Just unfathomable that we would have the record we had,” Lurie said. “The consistent losing of games in the fourth quarter was bitter for me.”

Lurie could easily have said the exact same thing after this season.

The names have changed and obviously Reid was here longer than Nick Sirianni, but the parallels are impossible to ignore:

In both cases, Lurie decided to keep a head coach when there were some pretty compelling reasons for him not to.

Lurie made it clear that day in January 2012 that Reid was on the clock, and if the Eagles didn’t rebound he’d be gone. And they went 4-12 in 2012, and he was gone.

Those Eagles declined slowly. They went three years without a playoff win, and the Super Bowl was eight years in the rear-view mirror by the time Lurie finally gave Big Red his notice.

The process was accelerated this time around and the collapse was far more spectacular. But in both cases the head coach didn’t seem to have any answers. As successful as Reid was here from 2000 through 2010 and as successful as he’s been in Kansas City since, by 2011 the magic had worn off and it seemed clear that the franchise needed an infusion of new blood and a fresh vision.

The magic wore off pretty much overnight with Sirianni. Somewhere after the Bills game and before the 49ers game. And by the time the Eagles got back from Tampa with their sixth ugly loss in seven weeks, this too seemed like a franchise that desperately needed an infusion of new blood and a fresh vision.

Sirianni wasn’t just unable to right the ship when the Eagles’ historic slide began. Everything he did made things worse, culminating in the 2nd-worst postseason loss in franchise history.

Sirianni no longer has a margin of error. Lurie is giving him one more year, similar to how he gave Reid one more year in 2011. He’s got to show that his coaching style still works. That culture and connection and core values can lead to wins and a playoff run.

You could have understood if Lurie moved on from Sirianni after the way the 2023 season ended. He came across as a high-energy guy who had no clue whatsoever how to stop the hemorrhaging. Or even why the hemorrhaging was happening.

When you have an offensive coach who doesn’t call the plays, you’re left with a guy who better have a brilliant scheme, a terrific mind for game management and a keen sense of how to get the most out of his personnel.

Does Sirianni have all that? He had none of the above as the 2023 season morphed from dazzling to disappointing to catastrophic.

There’s nothing wrong with a head coach who has an unconventional set of strengths. We saw in 2022 how it looks if you have two outstanding coordinators. But if you’re not the play caller and you’re not the X & O's guy and you’re not the clock management guy, you sure as heck better be good at the culture and motivation stuff. And this year Sirianni wasn't.

The only Eagles coach fired after reaching the playoffs was Buddy Ryan in 1990. And he had been at war with owner Norman Braman for four years by then.

Sirianni coached a Super Bowl less than a year ago, and it’s not that outlandish for Lurie to believe he can get the Eagles back there. Despite the way this year ended, Sirianni still has the best record of any coach in Eagles history, and he's the only one to get to the postseason in his first three seasons.

But that's not enough. A lot has to change.

Sirianni has to build the right coaching staff. He’s got to inject some life into the offense. He’s got to develop a more workable model with whoever winds up as the offensive play caller. More than anything, he’s got to prove he has the answers if things start to go bad.

If not? This story will have a totally different ending a year from now.