Two of the hottest teams in the NFL right now are the Eagles and the Colts.
That’s probably not a coincidence.
Because the two men in charge of those teams — Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni — are similar in a lot of ways. And they share a characteristic that has enabled them to help their teams turn things around.
“I think they're both emotionally stable,” said Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, who has coached under both. “You saw that in our first year in Indy. I think we started 1-5 and ended up ripping off a bunch and ended up 10-6 getting into the playoffs.
“We didn't start (this year) as anybody would have wanted to, but Nick just stuck to the process and really doubled down on what he talks about to you guys is what he knows is true for the team. How to play winning football and complementary football and what it takes from each guy in the building to do that. You have to have a level of stability about yourself, because if you start riding the wave of emotion through an NFL season, that's a recipe for disaster, good and bad.
“And so, I think he's done a very good job. He's very similar to Frank in that way where nothing really bugs him too much. It's always about get 1 percent better every day, and the results will come if the process is correct.”
That 2018 season in Indianapolis taught the Colts, Reich and Sirianni an awful lot. Like Gannon mentioned, the Colts began that season with a 1-5 record but finished the year at 10-6 and even went on to win a playoff game.
No two seasons are identical, but watching Reich guide the Colts through that in his first season as their head coach showed Sirianni the path. He was still an offensive coordinator back then but a lot of what Reich did in 2018, Sirianni has done in 2021.
“Yeah, I think there is a lot to that in the sense that what Frank was so good at preaching was how do we get – and I know you guys have heard me say this a million times – how do you get a little bit better each day,” Sirianni said.
“That is our intensity at practice. It is our detail in walk-through and our full speed to the snap in walk-through, and our detail in meetings, starting with the coaches and then to the players.”
Sirianni repeats that mantra ad nauseam. He just wants every player and coach to get better — 1 percent better — every single day. Really, it’s a way to stay hyper focused on the moment.
When a team is staring at a 2-5 record like the Eagles were earlier this season, it can be intimidating. But it can’t change the process. For Sirianni, it’s about believing in the process even when the results aren’t there.
That’s why he talked about flowers a couple months ago. Because he truly believed those roots were growing.
On Wednesday, he got to reference that press conference with a smirk on his face. Because fans laughed at him then. No one’s laughing now that the Eagles are in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot.
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast
“You just stay the course and chip away at it,” Sirianni said. “Just like you can't score if you're down 17 points or – you can't score a 17-point touchdown. Or in Frank's case, right, I got the best guy to ever learn from there, if you're down 30 – this 30 for 30 was just on – if you're down 31 to 3 in the second half of the AFC Divisional round against Houston Oilers, you can't score it all in one shot.”
Sirianni was referencing the Bills’ comeback win in the playoffs in 1993. That’s when Reich, as backup quarterback, led a comeback from down 28-3 in a game that is still talked about to this day.
A comeback in a game starts with one score. A comeback in a season starts with one win.
And then you start stacking them.
“So, it's just staying in the moment and going a little bit each time,” Sirianni said. “I learned that a lot from Frank, and I know our guys believe in that and I know our coaches believe in that, and we just talk about it every day. What are we going to do to get a little bit better today to put us in a position to go 1-0 this week.”