Coach Nick Sirianni “may become” looks pretty bad
There is a quote from Jeffery Lurie about Nick Sirianni that I keep coming back to. I try not to do it, but I can’t escape it. I think about it when I see another bad game called. I think about it when Sirianni admits a foul on his part at a press conference, then repeats that foul on the pitch the following week. I think about it when I tell other people about the Eagles this season. Others have used it too recently. The line comes from Lurie’s call to offer the job to Sirianni.
“We are incredibly excited for the coach that you are and the coach that you can become.”
The coach you can become.
That’s a revealing quote. It’s an admission that the 2021 Eagles are a work in progress, which of course is exactly what one should expect. And it’s an admission that Nick Sirianni himself is a work in progress, which again is exactly what the expectation of a 40-year-old first-time head coach and caller should be. of game.
But I keep coming back to it because the coach that Nick Sirianni is and is becoming was not and is not inspiring. The season opener was a great start, but now it looks like madman’s gold. Sirianni seems to be turning into something akin to the worst version of Chip Kelly.
Watching the 2021 Eagles, I have the same feeling of going nowhere that I was afraid to watch the 2015 squad. Even the numbers, which are irrelevant, are similar.
The fast and unfurious
|Seconds per reading||1st||2nd|
|Time of possession||32nd||31|
|Excluding yards per trip||23rd||20th|
|Discount points per trip||22nd||17th|
|Excluding TOP per reader||32nd||31|
|Def TOP per reader||27th||31|
|Off-disk success rate||21||23rd|
|Success rate of the def reader.||24||27th|
The playbooks and the approaches are different, but the results are the same. Both teams have very ineffective attacks and defenses that rush off the field, so the cycle repeats quickly. Both offenses are an outdated collection of individual games rather than a cohesive playbook, and these games are both poorly designed and poorly executed as the coach tries to squeeze square pegs into round holes. And the coaches don’t seem to have new ideas or ready to try new ideas.
Kelly’s offense decayed after about a year and a half because the NFL adjusted to its pace; and Kelly removed the threat from his QB by throwing QBs that are not threats as runners, which telegraphed coins. (Kicking some of his top players out of town didn’t help either.) Instead of countering these changes by updating his playbook, he couldn’t think of anything new to add and simply deleted some. parts, so his attack has become one-dimensional. and therefore predictable.
“I don’t think there is any secret,” Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “There’s been a lot of talk about their quick attack, but that doesn’t matter. No matter how fast they were running a room, we were right on it. We knew what games were coming and it’s a pretty basic attack. Their offense is somehow predictable. They have a lot of games where they can only run one way. We were ready for whatever they had.
This quote is from December 2014. In a preview of his short tenure with the 49ers, Chris Brown of Smart Football detailed how bland and telegraphed Kelly’s offense was in the second half of his tenure with the Eagles. The sight of a bewildered Sam Bradford stepping on the sidelines after three more and with an RPO that wasn’t much of an RPO for DeMarco Murray who gained 2 yards, only for Chip Kelly to bemoan the execution of players from games n is not far from our memories. At least Kelly’s offense took a long time to spoil. The 2021 Eagles almost immediately have an equally stale offense that has shown little ability to adapt.
“I feel like [the Buccaneers] came and knew what we were doing right away, ”left tackle Jordan Mailata said. “We just had to adapt – and it took us a little while to adjust – but like I said, they do their homework too. Just like we do. We have to learn to adapt and we have to learn to adapt faster. “
This quote is from last week. The sixth game of the season.
Yes, there are only 6 games in the season. But what did Sirianni show that indicates that the next 11 will be different or better?
Much has been said about the Eagles’ lack of play, and rightly so. The Eagles have one of the worst pass-to-run ratios this season for no good reason. Miles Sanders is set to end this season with fewer ground attempts in 17 games than he had in 12 last year, and just 21 more touches. Kenneth Gainwell has rightfully replaced Boston Scott on the depth board, but he sees a little less field and averages a few fewer touches per game than Scott last year.
Every defensive coordinator wants to establish control of the midfield, Nick Sirianni doesn’t even bother trying to fight this battle.
Per Football Outsiders, the Eagles are 13th in adjusted line yards on runs between tackles, but only 25th in how often they run down the middle. The Eagles have the 6th best yards per carry by running backs. They rank 13th in end-of-run short runs, 16th in fill rate, 3rd in second level yards and 9th in open field yards. According to NFL scoring statistics, they are 5th in yards per attempt in the middle, but only 22nd in attempts. They average 4.8 yards per attempt at 1st and 10th, which is the 13th best rate, but are only 30th in the league in attempts (not counting scrambling).
When the Eagles lead the ball, they are average to very good. But they rarely run the ball. No sane person asks Nick Sirianni to bring back formation I and hand the ball 35 times per game. But it’s no exaggeration to ask him to finish a half with his running backs combining for more attempts than you can count on one hand. His team does not lack talent or performance.
Being good at running the ball but having one of the worst run-to-pass ratios is in itself a potentially fatal flaw, but it’s not Sirianni’s only flaw. Another compliments this offensive lack of balance with a passing attack that lacks balance on its own. This problem is partly QB, partly coach.
Jalen Hurts is missing too many parts while making his best impression of Mitch Trubisky. Hurts rarely sees, or at least attempts, the left side of the field. There’s a certain benefit to him not throwing a lot to his left: he’s terrible at that. Hurts is 19 for 52 with 1 TD and 3 INT on passes left over the line of scrimmage (this does not include plays that ended in penalties), and on passes left at minus 15 yards, it is 5 for 20 with 1 TD and 2 INT. Some of the difficulties in the passing game certainly have to do with Hurts’ limits as a passer. Hurts hasn’t pitched much in midfield under Doug Pederson and continues to not, with only seven passes attempted between hashes this season. It’s difficult to have a consistent passing attack when the QB isn’t willing or able to throw into multiple sections of the pitch.
But Hurts’ predictable passing is both magnified and in part due to Sirianni’s predictable play calls. 25% of the Eagles’ passing attempts were on or behind the line of scrimmage, 45% of the attempted passes were 5 yards or less from the line of scrimmage. Most of Jalen Hurts’ deep attempts are near the sideline. This offense does not give the defenses any reason to defend the midfield.
But what is most damning is that Sirianni and his team, like Kelly and his team, have not improved.
Sirianni’s alleged ability to tailor his attack to his players has been an empty promise. Many assumed Sirianni would tailor his attack to his QB like the Colts did when they had three different starting QBs in three seasons due to injury and retirement. Sirianni even used it as a selling point himself. He obviously didn’t.
He also hasn’t developed any players. Which unit on each side of the ball has improved since the start of the season? The offensive line once again did an impressive job of holding on despite rotating the starting lineup almost weekly. But the key is, they’ve done it before, without Sirianni. This credit belongs to Jeff Stoutland, an S-Tier offensive line coach. The QB has not improved since the start of the season. The receivers haven’t improved, which is especially damning given Sirianni’s history as a WR coach. Quez Watkins had an impressive camp. The first three games of the season went to him, he caught 3 passes for 23 yards. Then, he was not targeted until the end of the 1st quarter of the following match. Jalen Reagor averages as many yards per reception as Kenneth Gainwell. The defense has not improved.
Maybe with a better team Sirianni would coach better, but that’s no excuse. Every coach looks better with a better roster. Chip Kelly did it. The 2021 Eagles were always expected to be bad. We can live with it. But this team is no better than a sum of its parts, and that’s on the coach.
It’s hard to get excited about the coach Nick Sirianni can become when he hasn’t shown any ability to become anything else.