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First Year Success


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First Year Success

Posted: June 17th, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 149 Comments

Nick Sirianni is the Eagles fourth new coach in the last 22 years. The previous three had varying degrees of success. Their results were a mixture of what they inherited and their coaching skills. It will be interesting to see how Sirianni does.

Andy Reid took over the Eagles in 1999. They were coming off a 3-13 season and one of the worst offenses in modern NFL history. Reid had a rookie QB, mediocre skill players and a mess of an OL in his first year. The defense made plays, but the team went 5-11. There were some close games that year. With a couple of lucky breaks, the Eagles might have gotten 7 or 8 wins. It was clear the team was headed in the right direction, but they needed more talent.

After going 5-11 initially, Reid went on a pretty amazing run. The Eagles played in five NFC Championship games under Reid. Division titles became so regular no one got excited about them any more. He never did win the big game, but Reid had a great run in Philly. His presence can still be felt today. Three of the best players on the 2021 Eagles were drafted and coached by Reid…Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Jason Kelce. That’s pretty amazing.

Chip Kelly came to Philly with tremendous fanfare back in 2013. He took over for Reid after the team had a miserable 4-12 showing in 2012. That team suffered through a lot of injuries and also had some real dysfunction. They started 3-3 before just completely falling apart.

Kelly brought in his college offense and revolutionary ideas. He inherited quite a bit of talent with players like Shady McCoy, Fletcher Cox, Jason Kelce, DeSean Jackson, Evan Mathis, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Peters, Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans and Brent Celek. Kelly had a pair of talented QBs in Michael Vick and Nick Foles. The Eagles landed a pair of impact players in the draft in Lane Johnson and Zach Ertz. That’s not a group of players you rebuild with.

The team looked great in the season opener, but then lost three in a row. Foles took over at QB and the Eagles went 9-3 the rest of the way, winning the NFC East. We thought that might be the foundation of a great run. Instead it was the peak of a bizarre era. Kelly’s lack of people skills caught up to him and he was fired before even completing his third season.

Kelly’s dismissal ushered in the Doug Pederson era. Pederson inherited a team with real talent. Some of the key guys mentioned above were gone (part of Kelly’s problem was making terrible personnel decisions), but the Eagles had also made some good additions. And the team drafted QB Carson Wentz second overall. Pederson had the horses to win right away.

That’s exactly what they did, getting off to a 3-0 start. The Eagles won those games by 19, 15 and 31 points. There was a real buzz about that team going into the Week 4 bye. Talk about terrible timing. You don’t want an early bye when you’re red hot. Sure enough, the Eagles were sloppy coming out of the bye and lost in Detroit, 24-23. Still, a 3-1 start was pretty darn impressive.

Lane Johnson was suspended by the NFL for 10 games and that kicked in after the fourth game. The hot start turned into a 2-8 stretch of mostly frustrating losses. So much for any hope of making the playoffs that year. The team did go 2-0 when Johnson returned at the end of the year. With Johnson in the lineup, the Eagles were 5-1. You have to wonder what might have been if he hadn’t been suspended.

The Eagles built on that success and won the Super Bowl the next season. We again thought that might be the foundation of a great run only to see it prove to be the peak of another bizarre era. Pederson went 4-11-1 last season and lost his job.

Enter Nick Sirianni.

So what might he do in his first year?

This group reminds me a bit of the 2000 Eagles, Reid’s second team. With the signing of Jon Runyan and John Welbourn getting healthy, they suddenly had a good OL. Donovan McNabb had started six games as a rookie and shown talent, but it was still a mystery as to whether he would be a consistently good passer.

The return of Johnson and Brandon Brooks could mean Sirianni will have a good OL to work with. McNabb had a much higher upside than Hurts, but both entered their second season with questions. Both could make plays with their legs when the passing game wasn’t working.

The 2000 Eagles had a good defense and great STs. This team has question marks in both areas.

The current team has better skills players than the 2000 team did.

I do not see this bunch going 11-5 like the 2000 team did.

You can also get some 2012/2013 vibes. The 2012 team had some really key injuries that devastated that season. The team on September 1 was worlds better than the one on December 1. There was also a lot of dysfunction. Coaches didn’t get along. Reid made a panic move and fired Juan Castillo at midseason. The roster had a mercenary feel and the locker room suffered because of that.

Kelly was able to come in and build a cohesive coaching staff and get all the players on the same page. Then he mixed in his new ideas on how to run an offense and an overall program. We all learned about Sports Science.

The 2020 Eagles were the second most injured team in the league. There was major dysfunction on and of the field. There were issues with the coaching staff. It did feel a lot like 2012.

Sirianni isn’t looking to revolutionize anything, but I do think the team will benefit from a cohesive staff and new leadership. Things had just gotten out of hand.

I’m not sure the Eagles have the talent to go 10-6 like the 2013 team did. Figuring out the ceiling for the 2021 team is worth a post of its own.

I expect Sirianni to outdo Reid’s 5-11 performance in 1999, but it is hard to get a feel for what this team is likely to do because there are so many unknowns, especially with Hurts. Probably the best comparison will be Pederson’s first year. When things were good and the team was healthy, the Eagles showed real potential. But they simply weren’t good enough to overcome problems.

And football history tells us there will be problems.

Then I go watch some DeVonta Smith highlights and start thinking…Super Bowl!!!



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19 minutes ago, PoconoDon said:

I only see 4-5 wins. I wish I saw more.

So hard to guess a win total.  So many factors in play … the 2 main ones QB play and injuries.  IF Hurts plays well and IF injuries aren’t nearly as huge a factor as they have been in recent years, I can see us with 7 or so wins.  

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1 minute ago, time2rock said:

So hard to guess a win total.  So many factors in play … the 2 main ones QB play and injuries.  IF Hurts plays well and IF injuries aren’t nearly as huge a factor as they have been in recent years, I can see us with 7 or so wins.  

maybe I'm suffering from recency bias, but Hurts got worse as games went on and injuries have been an issue every year. I just don't see those things changing for 2021. We'll see.

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7 hours ago, PoconoDon said:

maybe I'm suffering from recency bias, but Hurts got worse as games went on and injuries have been an issue every year. I just don't see those things changing for 2021. We'll see.

I think the coaching staff got lazy last.  That combined with the rash of injuries and Covid really turned out to be a witches brew for the team.  Hard to say how this team will do.  The new staff has a ton of energy and some seemingly good ideas.  Still, the players chose the easy way out and forced the coaches hand in cancelling mandatory mini-camp.  We also don't know how well Sirianni will react to in-game situations.

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