Last month, as the internet was having a field day making fun of Nick Sirianni for his performance during his introductory press conference as Eagles head coach, one of his former players had seen enough.
Colts All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard came to the defense of his former offensive coordinator.
This was a strong defense and it honestly carried more weight because it came from a defensive player. For Sirianni to make an impact on both sides of the ball in Indy is impressive for an offensive coordinator and an important trait to have as he transitions into the role of head coach in Philly.
Leonard was a guest on the Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday and explained why he came to Sirianni’s defense last month:
“I’m going to be real with you,” Leonard said. “With Nick, each Saturday night, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, special teams coordinator, they all get up there to talk in front of the team. You could tell people who love to talk in front of people, you could tell people who don’t love to talk in front of people.
“Me and Nick, all three years, you know, Nick came up there and his crutch was every time he said something, he said ‘all right.’ So each night I counted how many times he said ‘all right’ and after that I said something to him. And it just kept getting shorter and shorter so he stopped using ‘all right.’
“So I knew then, he’s a guy like me. I’m not a guy who’s going to talk in front of the whole press and be fine with it. So I knew that that’s not him. But I know that he’s a great coach and I know he’s a great leader so I had to step up and say something for him.”
That story from Leonard was pretty cool, that he actually called the offensive coordinator on his speaking crutch. But the cooler part is that Sirianni actually worked to fix it. That’s all you can ask for.
It was clear that during Sirianni’s press conference he was nervous. It was a tough spot to be in and the whole press conference set up didn’t make it any easier. He was in a mostly-empty Eagles auditorium staring at a screen of reporters in little boxes. And if he was nervous before the day began, waiting during Jeff Lurie’s 16-minute opening remarks probably didn’t help matters.
Heck, I started getting a little squirmy just thinking about all that.
Plenty of folks saw it as an opportunity to rag on Sirianni because they didn’t like the hire in the first place. If you thought the Eagles made a bad choice and then you saw that press conference, it certainly didn’t do anything to quell those fears.
But the press conference doesn’t really matter. We’ve seen some guys knock them out of the park and be terrible coaches. What matters is that Sirianni’s message gets through to his players. So it’s notable that Leonard continues to vouch for him.
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