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Ready Or Not


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Ready Or Not

Posted: October 28th, 2021 | Author: Tommy Lawlor 

The Eagles started off with a 32-6 win and Nick Sirianni looked like a good coach in the making. He got the most out of his young quarterback and receivers. His gameplan worked well. The team looked well-coached. It was just one game, but it was an impressive debut.

That seems like a lifetime ago.

The Eagles are 1-5 since then, with only a win over Sam Darnold and the struggling Carolina Panthers. Even then, the Eagles needed a fourth quarter comeback to win that game.


Sirianni is catching a lot of flak for his and his team’s performance. No one thinks this is an elite roster, but the coaches aren’t doing a good job of maximizing the talent they do have. Making matters worse, the Eagles hurt themselves with sloppy play.

On Wednesday Sirianni used an analogy of a flower growing to explain his team’s situation. The seed has been watered and fertilized. The roots are growing, but you don’t see much coming out of the ground. That’s his way of explaining that the 2-5 Eagles are laying the groundwork for a successful future.

A lot of people ripped Sirianni for that analogy. It is cheesey to be sure, but I’m fine with it. I’m just not sure it is accurate right now. What foundation is being laid?

I don’t see anything that looks foundational. When Andy Reid took over in 1999 he wanted to install his version of the West Coast offense. He had Jim Johnson install an attacking 4-3 scheme that used zone blitzes. The results were ugly at times that first year, but you could see the schemes.

And Reid created the right culture. When OL George Hegamin got on Reid’s bad side in Training Camp, he was punished in a public way and then cut the next day. That sent a message to the team. DT Bill Johnson was joking around in the locker room after a 33-7 loss to the Panthers and Reid didn’t like that. He cut Johnson the next day. Message sent.

Reid was very protective of his players, but they had to do things the right way.

Chip Kelly took over in 2013. He talked about tempo and wanting a strong run game. Kelly introduced us all to Sports Science and looked for every advantage possible. You could see his ideas in action right away. He wasn’t able to build on them, but there is no question that you knew his vision.

With Sirianni, I’m not sure what we know. The run game comes and goes. The over-reliance on RPOs seems to be an issue. Defenses have figure them out more than any time in the past. The passing game is a mixture of screens and deep balls. Jonathan Gannon’s defense is extremely conservative. Scheme aside, the team is sloppy. We see dropped passes and missed tackles. We see dumb penalties and mental mistakes.

What’s the foundation Sirianni is laying?

If the team was playing smart football and competing, but simply overmatched on talent, his analogy would make a ton of sense. I just don’t see that as the case. This isn’t a championship roster, but they should be better than they are. This isn’t just about winning and losing. This is about competing. Look at some of the deficits.

vs SF trailed 17-3
vs DAL trailed 41-14
vs KC trailed 42-23
vs CAR trailed 15-3
vs TB trailed 28-7
vs LVR trailed 30-7

That’s not good. The Eagles scored late to close the gap and make some of those games competitive. Give Sirianni credit for having his team keep battling, but that’s hardly a foundation to build upon.

"We’re going to own the fourth quarter when trailing by multiple touchdowns! We won’t give up!”

I understand why the Eagles took a chance on Sirianni. They wanted a young coach who might become the next big thing. And let’s be honest. The Doug Pederson situation scared some candidates. Howie Roseman is not seen as an asset by the best coaching candidates. The Eagles coaching job isn’t what it once was. They wanted someone who would be happy to have the job, who wouldn’t rock the boat and who might blossom when given the opportunity.

Right now the hire doesn’t look so good. It doesn’t look like he was ready to be an NFL head coach.

That could change. Reid started 0-4 and looked in over his head before things started to click for his team. Kelly had a 2-5 stretch in his first year and the team failed to score an offensive TD in consecutive losses. Pederson had a 2-9 stretch where there were serious questions about him as a coach.

All of those guys were able to right the ship and show progress as the year went along.

The Eagles have a favorable schedule the rest of the way. It will be critical for them to show progress for Sirianni to show that he should keep his job. That means fixing offensive and defensive problems.

One of the things that helped both Reid and Kelly was a QB change. Reid went to rookie Donovan McNabb and Kelly put in second year player Nick Foles. They replaced veterans who weren’t getting the job done. Sirianni already has a young QB running the show. Would he consider giving Gardner Minshew a chance to start?

I struggle to know what Sirianni is thinking here. He called Minshew a backup the other day and didn’t leave a lot of wiggle room.

At the same time, Jalen Hurts is not helping the players around him on a consistent basis right now. He struggles with accuracy and that makes it tough for his WRs to catch the ball. Hurts doesn’t see the field consistently well. All QBs look at the film after the game and groan when they find out they failed to see a wide open player. This goes beyond that.

Hurts doesn’t function well enough in the pocket. He bails too early and usually to his right. He leads the league in passes thrown out of bounds. Since opening day, Hurts is completing 58 percent of his passes. That isn’t good enough in the modern NFL. You need to be above 65 percent.

I don’t think Sirianni has to pull the plug on him, but he needs to demand better play from Hurts. If Jalen continues to struggle with the same issues over and over, the Eagles should give Minshew a chance. You need a QB who can distribute the ball and let the playmakers help the offense. Hurts just isn’t doing that right now.

We’ve talked plenty about Sirianni calling better plays. He got off to a promising start on Sunday, but the injury to Miles Sanders seemed to derail the plan. It also hurt that the Eagles defense couldn’t get the Raiders off the field. I do think Sirianni is right when he says the offense gets out of rhythm when standing around and watching long drives by the opponents.

As for the Eagles defense…not good.


Jonathan Gannon says all the right things at his press conferences, but his actions on Sunday don’t match the words. Someone somewhere has terrified him in regard to giving up big plays. He’s more scared of explosive plays than I am of a trip to the dentist. I get that playing bend-but-don’t-break defense can work, but only if you’re good at situational football. You must be good on third downs and in the Red Zone.

The Eagles are 26th in third down defense and 28th in RZ defense.

They are bending and breaking. And that must stop.

Gannon has to make changes. He cannot stick with this scheme with these players and this offense. If the Eagles scored consistently and played with a lead, Gannon’s scheme would make a lot more sense.

The biggest issue for me is that the middle of the field (LBs and safeties) just aren’t good enough. The Eagles have a good DL and veteran corners who are solid players. LB and S are major weaknesses. They simply don’t make plays. Way too many opposing players run through the middle of the defense unchallenged.

Gannon’s scheme isn’t bringing out the best in his DL or his CBs so they can’t help cover up the weak LB/S spots.

The Eagles must be more aggressive. They need to take more chances. That will lead to giving up more plays, but the current system is not working and Gannon is frustrating his players. That’s not good.

There would be value in Gannon teaching this scheme to a young defense and living with the mistakes. This group isn’t young.

Fletcher Cox 31
Javon Hargrave 28
Alex Singleton 28
Eric Wilson 27
Rodney McLeod 31
Anthony Harris 30
Darius Slay 30
Steve Nelson 28

There are some young players in the mix. Josh Sweat, Milton Williams, TJ Edwards, Davion Taylor, K’Von Wallace, Avonte Maddox and Zech McPhearson all have a chance to be part of the future. Sweat and Maddox are the only starters. This isn’t a young defense. This is a veteran defense with some young role players.

Gannon must change what he is doing.

Sirianni loves to talk about accountability. I just don’t know that he understands accounatability is more than just taking blame. You must take actions to fix mistakes. From an outsider’s perspective, he’s not doing enough of that.

He wants to double-down on his core beliefs and that’s actually a good thing. If a coach panicked every time his team struggled and went in search of completely new ideas, that coach would be gone pretty fast.

But Sirianni does need to change how his offense and defense are performing. That can be done schematically or through personnel. What they are doing now just isn’t working. Sirianni better come up with some answers or he’s going to really feel some heat.

Fans and the media can rip him all day long. Sirianni can tune them out. At some point, Jeff Lurie will get tired of his team being ripped and will talk to his coach about the need for changes. Sirianni will have to listen to that.

The Eagles desperately need a win in Detroit on Sunday. They also need to look good, to show something. An ugly win over an 0-7 team would give critics more fodder for their arguments.

From a selfish standpoint, I’d just love a Sunday I could enjoy.

Do me a favor, Nick, and make that happen.



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17 hours ago, time2rock said:

From a selfish standpoint, I’d just love a Sunday I could enjoy.

This pretty much sums it up for me. 

In my end I keep coming back to the same thing and that is I want to see a team that is evolving and I want to enjoy watching my team. There have been plenty of bad teams over the years but at least some of them are entertaining and at least some of them are building something.

This team doesn't seem to be building at the moment. The offense is clueless. The defense is awful and does nothing. 

Sirianni comes out with these ridiculous metaphors and everyone just laughs at us. It really isn't a good or a fun time to be an Eagles fan right now. 

And to me the biggest issue is the GM. If he went I do think a lot would change. They would be able to attract the best young coaches because this team has some pieces, some talent and it has a lot of draft ammo next year (that could potentially be used to great even more ammo the following year as well).

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