How getting cut by eight teams made Tanney a better coach originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
If he hadn’t been released by the Chiefs, he never would have landed in Dallas and worked with Wade Wilson. And if he hadn’t been cut by the Cowboys, he never would have landed in Cleveland and gotten to work with Shane Steichen. And if the Browns didn’t release him, he never would have found himself in Tampa with Josh McCown.
And on and on.
And then off to Tennessee with offensive coordinator Jason Michael and quarterback Marcus Mariota and then to Buffalo with Greg Roman and then over to Indy with Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselbeck and then to the Giants with Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula and Eli Manning.
Every stop was a crash course in how to be a quarterback. Every city was an opportunity to learn a new scheme and a new way of looking at offensive football. Every coach and every quarterback he met along the way was a sounding board, someone to learn from.
And there were a lot of them.
Add it all up? And you have the Eagles’ new quarterbacks coach.
“I was with eight teams in nine years,” Alex Tanney said. “Twelve head coaches, 12 offensive coordinators, so just a little bit different perspective than some coaches. So many different philosophies, and seeing things in a different lens than others and just trying to share that experience with the guys in our room.”
Tanney’s playing career was long but uneventful. By the time he retired after nine seasons, he had thrown 15 passes, completing 11 for 100 yards and a touchdown to Dorial Green-Beckham of all people for the Titans against the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on the final day of the 2016 season.
But while he was bouncing around from team to team, the seeds were being planted for a much more impactful career.
He knew quickly his true calling was coaching.
“I knew pretty early on,” he said. “When I was finishing college (at Monmouth, Ill.), I knew it was something I wanted to do and probably by Year 2 or 3 in the NFL it kind of hit home that, ‘Hey, I know this is what I’m going to do.’
“So at that point I didn’t play much but I played for a lot of different teams so I got to build relationships with a lot of different coaches and started just kind of putting out feelers.
“When I was playing for somebody I would always bring up, ‘Hey, I know I want to get into coaching,’ because I knew eventually that could help me down the line and help me get on a staff.”
And how did that go?
There’s a reason Tanney is here now.
He was with Nick Sirianni in Kansas City in 2012. He was with Steichen in Cleveland in 2013. He was with Michael, the Eagles’ tight ends coach, in Tennessee in 2014 and 2015. He was with Kevin Patullo in Tennessee in 2014.
So when Tanney finally hung up his cleats after the 2020 season, coming to Philly was a no-brainer.
Tanney spent 2021 as Sirianni's offensive quality control coach, got promoted to assistant quarterbacks coach under Brian Johnson last year and now, with Johnson replacing Steichen, the 35-year-old Tanney is quarterbacks coach.
What kind of coach is he?
The product of every football mind he’s ever been around.
“Coach Shula and Shurmur in New York, really close with Coach Shula, he left a really good impression on me,” he said. “Played with Eli, played with Andrew Luck, played with Hasselbeck, played with McCown. Tons of (guys). Really fortunate to play with so many good coaches but also so many good players.
“When I was a young player I always said, ‘Hey, I want to pick his game and take something from his game and apply it to mine.’ Or I’m going to study the best guy, whoever that was. If I would have been playing for this team, I would have studied what (Jason) Kelce is doing. Those guys are playing for so long at a high level for a reason, let’s study them and try to figure out why and apply that to my routine or my game.”
There’s a long history of Eagles backup quarterbacks becoming highly regarded coaches — Mike Kafka, Matt Nagy, G.J. Kinne, McCown, Tee Martin, Thad Lewis, Doug Pederson.
Tanney never played here, but he fits that mold. Modestly talented but cerebral, outstanding communicator, deep understanding of all facets of offensive football.
He's already got a terrific relationship with Jalen Hurts, and if the Eagles keep scoring a lot of points and winning a lot of games, Tanney will keep rising through the coaching ranks.
“Playing the quarterback position you have to know what’s going on everywhere, so you have to understand where the point is in protection or the run game, the route concepts, the route discipline that Nick’s always talking about,” Tanney said.
“Then you’ve got to worry about the things on your plate with your footwork and your mechanics and how you’re reading certain progressions. I just think that there’s so much on your plate playing that position that it just gives you a little jump-start when you get into coaching because you’re somewhat familiar with having to understand all the things that are going on on a certain play.”
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