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The hidden value of Sirianni returning the same staff in 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Change is inevitable, as the famous saying goes.
For the Eagles, change will have to wait a year.
Sometimes it makes sense just to keep things exactly the way they are, and for Nick Sirianni it made sense to keep his coaching staff together for a second straight season.
And that’s a rarity in the NFL.
This is the first time in 17 years the Eagles have had no significant changes on their coaching staff. Andy Reid didn’t make any changes from 2004 to 2005, and every offseason since, at least one position coach or coordinator has changed.
For a while, it seemed like Sirianni would have to replace at least one or two assistants.
Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was up for head coaching jobs with the Texans, Broncos and Vikings; quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson interviewed for the Packers’ offensive coordinator position; and passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo was reportedly on the Bears’ radar for their offensive coordinator position, although he’s not believed to have interviewed.
But they’re all back.
There’s a lot to be said for continuity, and a head coach bringing back his entire coaching staff for a second season is huge for returning players who don’t have to start out from square one with a new position coach or coordinator. They don’t have to figure out what their coach is looking for in meetings and at practice. They don’t have to learn new ways of communicating or adjust to whatever methods of teaching any new coach is going to have.
The entire group can just pick up where it left off.
And it’s big for the coaches, too. As much time as they spend together studying film, crafting game plans and teaching players, a second year together will only make that process smoother and more advanced.
“I think it's huge because the coaching points that you want to get across are across, there's already that familiarity with the players,” Sirianni said last month after the Eagles’ last OTA practice.
“Now, the rookies have to get to know everybody, but you'd be surprised, too, that when you bring in a new coach, that's a big step for myself and (offensive coordinator Shane Steichen) to teach the guy the offense or vice versa on the defensive side — Gannon to teach the defense.
“That's a big portion of time because you're not just teaching plays, you're teaching techniques within the plays, what's the responsibilities, you're teaching situations. To have the entire staff back is huge.”
It was clear by the end of last year that Sirianni had assembled a solid teaching staff and a group whose positivity and energy matched his.
To go from 2-5 in late October to the postseason speaks volumes not just about Sirianni but his staff as well. The Eagles became only the ninth team in NFL history to reach the playoffs after a 2-5 start and only the sixth to reach the playoffs with a winning record from that position. That’s a direct reflection of what the coaching staff was able to build.
Now, it is fair to question the work of some of the assistants.
Aaron Moorehead has actually been here since Doug Pederson’s last season, and the performance of the wide receivers hasn’t been great, DeVonta Smith’s rookie year not withstanding. But that could be more of a talent issue than a coaching issue. We’ll get a better feel for him this year now that he has a deep and talented cast to work with.
Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker’s unit seemed to underachieve much of the year, although Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat did ultimately make the Pro Bowl as alternates.
And Michael Clay’s special teams group struggled in just about every area last year — in the return game, covering kicks and punts and obviously punting. But he’s back for a second season as well.
But for the most part, this appears to be a very good staff, and if the Eagles have another successful year, it’s going to be very hard for Sirianni to continue keeping them together.
Gannon is a lock for a head coaching job in the next year or two if the defense plays well; Johnson and Patullo are highly regarded offensive coaches who will likely have coordinator opportunities; linebackers coach Nick Rallis, who’s just 27, will be in the conversation for defensive coordinator jobs in the next few years if his group plays up to expectations; and if Steichen continues having success as a play caller, his name will also start to come up as a head coaching candidate.
But for now, Sirianni is running it back with the same group, and that’s usually a formula for success.
Sirianni did note that he promoted Alex Tanney and Tyler Scudder from coaches assistant roles to quality control positions with the idea that they will eventually be ready to become position coaches.
“My vision here is to be able to keep the staff intact (and) win games, obviously,” Sirianni said. “Guys will obviously get promoted from that, and then be able to have a good young group of nucleus guys that are in support roles to be able to promote.
“You look around the NFL, that's what some of the great teams do, is they promote from within. So it's just accumulating talent and trying to promote from within.”