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Sirianni records the first big win of his coaching career


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Sirianni records the first big win of his coaching career


It really was the first major challenge of Nick Sirianni’s tenure as Eagles head coach. 

A full slate of spring minicamps and a veteran nucleus choosing to boycott all but the three-day mandatory camp in the interest of safety.

Nobody needs spring workouts more than a team with a new coach, a new offense, a new defense, a new everything. Nobody needs spring workouts more than a team trying to build a new culture after a 4-11-1 nightmare. Nobody needs spring workouts more than the Eagles.

Yet on April 18 came this statement released by the NFLPA and attributed to the players:

"We believe in the solidarity of players across the NFL and using our collective voice to stand up for each other and what’s right. Our teammates have come together to make a decision as a team as to what is best for us this offseason. We have shared and talked about the facts from our union and our players will not be attending in-person voluntary workouts.”

It was hard to interpret this as anything but a setback for Sirianni. Just think how often you heard players last year talk about how much they missed the entire series of spring meetings and OTAs. You heard it every week. And that was with a much more veteran team returning for its fifth year under the same offensive and defensive staffs.\

There’s no way having a bunch of players scattered across the country watching their coach on yet another Zoom call would be any sort of decent replacement for actual face-to-face hands-on instruction on the field with your teammates. 

Sirianni, who generally says very little in his press conferences, went so far as to concede that not having his players – especially the young ones – in the building over the next month or so would be a big disappointment. 

"Any day we miss is obviously something that you don't want to happen as a coach or as a player that's developing,” he said Friday.

This is a young team. A new team. They need this.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Sirianni was reaching out to the veterans on the roster, the ones who were behind the boycott, which was heavily encouraged by the NFLPA, the union that represents the players.  

Was there any way to work out a compromise?

These are players who are loyal to Doug Pederson, who’ve never played or even practiced a snap under Sirianni, some of whom have never even met the guy.

But they listened. 

They negotiated. 

And, remarkably, they compromised.

Sirianni and the players worked together to address everybody’s concerns, and together they come up with a modified offseason program that gets the players into the building for critical in-person instruction and meeting and conditioning while eliminating the full-team practice periods that the players’ group believe is risky.

The players get what they wanted and Sirianni gets what he wanted.

And it’s hard to ignore the fact that this exact sort of communication and negotiation and listening and compromise was missing from the Eagles as the whole thing spiraled out of control during the disastrous 2020 season. 

Orchestrating this compromise, one that benefits everybody involved, one that will make this a better football team, is a major triumph for Sirianni, the first of his Eagles coaching career. 

It shows his players are listening. More importantly, it shows that they want to listen.

Sirianni faced the first major challenge of his head coaching career head on and found a creative, elegant solution. And that’s a really encouraging sign.

Winning over the veterans is always the biggest challenge for a new coach. And it looks like Sirianni has taken a big step toward doing it.


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