Nick Sirianni woke up on Wednesday morning after the Eagles beat the Washington Football Team 27-17 and he wasn’t feeling well.
Then he tested positive for COVID-19.
So now the Eagles’ head coach is in the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol and the Eagles are unleashing the contingency plan they had in their back pocket. The Eagles hope Sirianni will be back before Sunday’s game against the Giants, but they have a plan if he’s not, too.
“I wasn’t feeling great this morning when I woke up and just got tested and obviously we are where we are right now,” Sirianni said on Wednesday afternoon. “I mean, I’m feeling OK, I’m feeling a little bit better now, which is good.
“The rest of the week, I’ll be in every meeting, obviously virtually, every single meeting, every quarterback meeting, every offensive meeting, every team meeting. I’ll be running those. Just business as usual.”
The news that Sirianni tested positive comes just the day after his Eagles beat the Washington Football Team in a game that was postponed two days because of an outbreak in Washington. Many Washington players and coaches were not able to participate in Tuesday’s rescheduled game.
The Eagles had just two players — Landon Dickerson and Andre Dillard — miss Tuesday’s game and they obviously hope Sirianni’s positive test is not the beginning of their own outbreak.
“Hopefully, I’ll be ready to go on Sunday,” Sirianni said. “If not, we’ve been prepared for this. I’m very confident in what we did as far as getting ahead of everything last week and the last couple weeks of being separated, putting ourselves almost in a protocol as it was with the extra precautions we took. Everything up until game day will be very normal except I’m not in the building."
Since receiving the news of his positive test result, Sirianni has bunkered down in a local hotel room with his computer, film and all the necessities to coach remotely. While Sirianni said he’ll be in meetings virtually all week, he said practice pretty much runs itself.
If Sirianni can’t coach on Sunday, passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo would take over typical head coaching in-game decisions, like going for it on fourth down and throwing challenge flags. Patullo will get some help from running backs coach Jemal Singleton, who has the title of assistant head coach. Sirianni said he picked Patullo for that role because he isn’t responsible for a position group.
As far as offensive play calling goes, offensive coordinator Shane Steichen would take over those responsibilities. Sirianni on Wednesday alluded to a collaborative effort between himself and Steichen in that area throughout the season.
"When this all first came out a couple years ago, you have to talk about it a lot,” defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. “It’s exhausting how much we talk about this, honestly, but you have to do that, so we’ve talked about a lot of different scenarios, what if this happens, Plan A, Plan B, who’s doing what, who’s handling the players, meetings, all that stuff. Expect the unexpected and Nick’s done a good job since we got here, hey, here’s what we’re going to do when these things happen, and I feel good about the plan in place.”