With success comes envy, and in the NFL, it often calls for replacing quality assistants who earn higher titles elsewhere.
For Nick Sirianni, this is his first time experiencing this process as a head coach. Defensive coordinator Johnathan Gannon is off to Arizona to take over the Cardinals, while offensive coordinator Shane Steichen is doing the same with the Colts in Indianapolis.
Sirianni needs some new lieutenants.
“From our position coaches to our coordinators all the way to our quality control coaches and assistant position coaches, I want them involved in everything and I try to give them things that helped me throughout my career and that’s my job as head coach,” Sirianni explained Thursday. “With that, Shane and Jonathan were successful not only because Shane and Jonathan are good football coaches but also because they have good assistants, and they have good people working with them. So I feel like we have a lot of good in-house options, which is always going to be where start because that’s just always been how I’ve learned of grooming the people that you have and when this day happens you’re ready to go.
“But we won’t stop just there. We will look at every option to make sure we’re getting the best people in here to help our team. We’re going to do what’s best for the Philadelphia Eagles.”
Sirianni arrived in Philadelphia with an offensive background, but managed to lead the Eagles to Super Bowl LVII by not calling plays. Instead, Sirianni left those duties to Steichen, a coordinator whose play-calling ability was once described by quarterback Philip Rivers as “savant-like.” Sirianni now has to find his next offensive scholar, whom he said Thursday he will again trust with play-calling duties.
“It helps me manage the game better, in my opinion,” Sirianni said. “It helps me interact with the players more on the sideline and it helps me be able to discuss something with somebody upstairs. To get the defensive headset on when the offense is up and vice versa. Yes, that will be my intent, to let the next offensive coordinator call the game.”
Replacing Gannon might end up proving more difficult. Sirianni said he isn’t going to try to find a Gannon clone, but does like how Gannon rounded the Eagles’ defense into top-five form in 2022.
This next hire can be themself, as long as Sirianni believes their abilities meet Philadelphia’s standards.
“There’s core thought processes that I have on defense. Do I like a lot of the things that we’re doing on there? Yes, I do,” Sirianni said. “I really believe in the turnover differential, I really believe in that explosive-play differential, and so there’s things of that nature of that defense that I like, and then there’s going to be things situationally that are non-negotiables, I guess to say, with me whether it’s third-and-long, tight red zone, two-minute, four-minute defense backed up, I’m going to naturally have things that I’m going to require the next defensive coordinator do, but I also know that I’m hiring somebody to do their job to the best of their abilities — that’s why I’m hiring them.
“It’s all going to look a little bit different, no matter if you bring Jonathan’s twin brother in — which he doesn’t have — but if you brought him in, it’s still going to look a little different when that guy calls it as opposed to coach Gannon. So there’s going to be little changes, differences, but again, I guess my long way of answering that is, I’m not opposed to changing, but I’m going to do what’s best for the Eagles.”
Sirianni made sure to state the Eagles already had some good in-house candidates for both openings — quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson will likely be a strong contestant for the OC job — but isn’t going to limit himself to an internal hire. This is where Sirianni will realize the lone downside of reaching the Super Bowl: He’s trailing behind the rest of the league in the assistant hiring cycle.
Even so, Sirianni isn’t going to hurry to hire a replacement just to meet a timeline.
“We want to get it done as soon as we can but not be in a rush,” Sirianni said. “We need to be diligent because we need to be diligent.”