EAGLES INSIDER

The daunting challenge facing Nick Sirianni

EAGLES INSIDER

This isn’t going to be easy. Nick Sirianni is going to find challenges every step of the way. Some will seem insurmountable. Some may indeed be insurmountable.

He’s replacing a head coach who was popular among his players and won a Super Bowl three years ago this month.

He was hired over Duce Staley, who's revered in the locker room.

He’s about to watch the franchise quarterback get traded.

He’s going to have to deal with an aging roster with barely any elite young talent and a bloated salary cap and several star players in the twilight of their careers.

When Buddy Ryan took over the Eagles in 1986, he inherited Reggie White, Andre Waters, Wes Hopkins and Randall Cunningham. And then began nailing draft picks. 

When Rich Kotite took over in 1991, he inherited those guys plus Eric Allen, Jerome Brown, Clyde Simmons, Seth Joyner and Keith Jackson and a team that had the 4th-best record in the NFL over the three previous seasons.

Ray Rhodes took over a team with an offense built around Rickey Watters, Charlie Garner, Fred Barnett and Cunningham and a defense led by William Thomas, Andy Harmon, William Fuller and Greg Jackson.

By the time Andy Reid arrived in 1999, the Eagles had the No. 2 pick, which turned into Donovan McNabb, as well as defensive stars like Troy Vincent, Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor.

Chip won quickly because he had a novel scheme, plus Nick Foles, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy and a solid defense, with Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans and a young Fletcher Cox.

 

And Doug won because in 2017 every single imaginable thing went right. A bunch of free agents had the best seasons of their lives, Carson Wentz and Nick Foles played out of their minds and Pederson made about 1,000 consecutive gambles work.

All those guys had early success with the Eagles because they all had something to work with when they got here. Rhodes and Kelly reached the playoffs in their first season, and Ryan, Kotite, Reid and Pederson in their second year - throwing out the 1987 strike year for Buddy.

What does Sirianni have to work with?

Miles Sanders, Dallas Goedert and … 

Hmmm.

You see why there’s an issue here.

It’s been a long, long time since a new Eagles coach came into a worse situation. 

Maybe Marion Campbell in 1983. But he had young Mike Quick, a still effective Ron Jaworski, Wilbert Montgomery in his prime and youngsters like Ray Ellis, Dennis Harrison, Greg Brown, Anthony Griggs, Roynell Young and Hopkins on defense.

Even Dick Vermeil, taking over a team that hadn’t had a winning record in a decade, inherited Harold Carmichael, Charle Young, Bill Bergey, Randy Logan, John Bunting, Jerry Sisemore and Bill Bradley.

Recent Eagles coaching hires haven’t had to deal with a rebuilding roster because the Eagles haven’t let the roster decline to this point. There’ve been bad seasons before but there was always a young nucleus to build around.

And if you don’t think it’s that bad, ask yourself who the Eagles’ best players under 30 are other than Sanders and Goedert.

Alex Singleton? Josh Sweat? Javon Hargrave? Jordan Mailata?

Yeah. It’s not pretty.

The cupboard’s almost bare, and the guy responsible for replenishing that cupboard has drafted one Pro Bowler in the last five years and is now trying to trade him.

This isn’t to say it’s hopeless. It’s not. 

If Sirianni can win over the locker room, he’ll have a chance. He’s got to start with Fletcher Cox, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson if he’s here. Win over the leaders and the young guys will fall into place.

But the biggest thing he needs is players, starting with a quarterback, some receivers and a corner or two. There’s not going to be much help in free agency, so it’s up to Roseman and the scouting department to nail this draft, including whatever picks the Eagles get for Wentz, Ertz and anybody else they unload. And let’s be honest. It’s hard to be optimistic.

Sirianni’s got a lot to navigate here, and the owner, for all his talk about patience and rebuilding over a number of years, just fired a head coach three years after delivering a Super Bowl trophy, one year after a third straight playoff appearance.

Sirianni could be the greatest coach ever. It might not be enough.

 

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