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June 10, 2024

8 Eagles notes: Nick Sirianni's role, Jalen Carter being primed for stardom and more

The Eagles may no longer be using Nick Sirianni's offensive system, but he will need to re-establish a great locker room culture to stay with the organization for the long haul.

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Nick Sirianni Phillies Hat Eagles Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

Nick Sirianni

In need of some Eagles talk to carry you until training camp? Here are some choice Eagles notes, including practice observations, coach interviews, news hits and historical tidbits... 

What does Nick Sirianni's coaching role entail? 

It's no longer Nick Sirianni's offense in Philly. Kellen Moore is here as the play-caller and the offense is "95 percent" new according to Jalen Hurts. Sirianni's obviously not running the defense. So what exactly is he doing? Detractors might say "nothing," but that's severely underestimating Sirianni's ability as a motivator that's led him to a 34-17 record with the Eagles and macro-level teaching. 

When asked about his variety responsibilities as a head coach in a press conference last week, Sirianni talked about how much he loves giving one-on-one guidance: 

"When I'm able to have kind of a broad view of everything like a 30,000-foot view, I'm able to give little coaching points to a defensive back of something that I see or to a running back who doesn't have the ball in the correct arm or anything that has to do with the detail or the overall thing of the play, like a DB went for a play on the sideline yesterday, missed it and gave up a big play as a result of that... To be able to do things and see it from a broad view, I love doing that.

Another season that ends in a Wild Card round flameout probably spells the end for Sirianni in Philly. That's not a sourced report. That's just how the Eagles operate business. Sirianni's antics are beloved when the team is doing well, but his rah-rah mentality comes under the fire when things fall apart, as they did during the 2023 stretch run. 

Sirianni will need to hope that Moore's system is an efficient machine and the locker room resembles its 2022 energy if he wants to be here for the long haul. He may have little to do with the former, but he has everything to do with the latter. 

The Eagles' history in MVP voting

Since 2000, three Eagles have received first-place MVP votes: Donovan McNabb, Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts.

In his sophomore season, McNabb guided the Eagles back to the postseason and delivered some big-time clutch moments. He finished second with 11 votes, but lost to Marshall Faulk, who garnered 24 votes.

Wentz's almost-MVP win and franchise-altering injury in 2017 is well-documented. If he stayed healthy, he would've won, but, alas, that's not how it works. He finished third (two votes) behind Tom Brady (40 votes) and Todd Gurley (eight votes). 

Hurts also was injured down the stretch in 2022, perhaps costing him a shot at the award. He received one first-place vote. Patrick Mahomes won the award with 48 first-place votes. 

Brian Westbrook was ahead of his time

There's always talk about older players across all sports not succeeding in the modern game. Brian Westbrook would certainly be an exception there. Westbrook could've been Christian McCaffrey in today's NFL, a player just as much of a threat as a receiver as a runner with an outstanding football IQ.

Just four players in NFL history have ever accumulated over 2,104 yards from scrimmage while catching 90 passes in a season (via Stathead). Westbrook did so in 2007, as did McCaffrey in 2019. 2003 LaDainian Tomlinson and 2006 Steven Jackson join the list. 

A huge Eagles "what-if" is Westbrook getting injured in the 2003 regular season finale ahead of a playoff run...

Jalen Carter is still primed for stardom

Much like the rest of the Eagles' defense, Jalen Carter fell off during the Eagles' embarrassing end to the 2023 season. He still finished second in Defensive of the Year voting, though, and his six sacks were the most by an Eagles rookie defensive tackle since Corey Simon had 9.5 in 2000 (via Stathead). 

The Stathead database tracks quarterback pressures back to 2018. Carter is one of two defensive tackles to have at least six sacks and 18 pressures as a rookie since then, along with the Rams' Kobie Turner (via Stathead).

When asked about Carter last week during a press conference, new defensive line coach Clint Hurtt said that he had the benefit of being around two great vets in Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham as a rookie. Cox is gone and now is the time for Carter to showcase why he was arguably the most talented player in the 2023 draft.

The Dallas Cowboys' conference championship drought

The Dallas Mavericks are currently in the NBA Finals. The Dallas Stars reached the NHL Western Conference Finals this spring. The Texas Rangers won the World Series last fall.

The other major sports team in the Dallas region, the Cowboys, have gone 10,375 days since their last NFC Championship Game appearance. 

Travis Fulgham catches touchdown in Canadian Football League

Remember Travis Fulgham? It appeared that Howie Roseman found a diamond in the rough at receiver when the wideout caught on with the Birds in 2020.

Look at these numbers he posted from Weeks 4 through 8 of that season:

Week Receptions
510 152 

In a year where the Eagles wasted a first-round pick on Jalen Reagor, there was a thought that the team found a starting-caliber player out of nowhere at a position where they had been starved for talent.

Not so fast.

Fulgham burnt out quickly. He was gone after 2020, played a single game with the Broncos in 2021 and is now in the Canadian Football League. Fulgham scored his first CFL TD on Sunday in the BC Lions' season-opener:

The Lions lost the game. Fulgham finished with two catches for 54 yards and that touchdown.

In an offense that features A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert and Saquon Barkley, the organization is not sweating Fulgham turning back into a pumpkin. 

Will Shipley as the Eagles' No. 2 running back

The Eagles' coaching staff loves Kenny Gainwell. He received first-team reps throughout the 2023 summer at running back and was even the Eagles' go-to guy in Week 1 before going down with an injury. Barkley was brought in this offseason to be a star back and Boston Scott departed for Los Angeles, but Gainwell may not have yet solidified himself as RB2. 

Fourth-round rookie Will Shipley brings receiving chops (85 catches in his career at Clemson) and was a frequent target in the passing game during minicamp. He was a higher draft pick than Gainwell was in 2021. Gainwell hasn't showcased much juice three years into his pro career. TBD if Shipley can be a legitimate threat as a runner and a plus as a pass-blocker, but he should (not necessarily ""will") be Barkley's main understudy. 

"Big Fan" is an outrageous Eagles-Giants rivalry film

Hollywood has seen its share of Eagles-centric movies with "Invincible" and "Silver Linings Playbook." One indie film from 15 years ago, however, may not be in football fans' consciousness. That's "Big Fan" from director Robert D. Siegel. It stars Patton Oswalt as a hardcore Giants fan who gets himself into trouble, starts an obsession with an Eagles fan sports talk radio caller and other nonsense ensues. Its anxiety-inducing energy is reminiscent of "Uncut Gems" while its down-on-their-luck protagonist definitely has some "Silver Linings Playbook" vibes, but it's a worse film than both.

Anyway, if you're looking for football action on the screen before the season, it's streaming on both Peacock and Prime Video. It was enjoyable enough in that regard. 

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