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January 25, 2024

Five takeaways from Nick Sirianni's and Howie Roseman's end of season press conference

The Eagles appear ready for wholesale changes following Nick SIrianni and Howie Roseman's press conference.

Eagles NFL
012524HowieRosemanNickSirianni Jimmy Kempski/for PhillyVoice

Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni

It took a while for Nick Sirianni and Howie Roseman to speak to reporters after the Philadelphia Eagles' collapse to close the 2023 season, but on Wednesday they finally did. Here were my five biggest takeaways.

1) The new offensive coordinator will run the offense.

The phrase "fresh ideas" was spoken five times during the presser in regard to the Eagles' "stale" offense, as Sirianni called it. 

"Whoever the new coordinator is, there's going to be things that they bring that are going to be fresh ideas for us to help our players grow and help our players play at the top level, and there have been some things that we've done really well on offense, too, in the past that you'll mesh in some of that together, as well, I think with some of the success that we've had these last three years and the things that our guys do well," Sirianni said.

"So I'm excited about that, the new ideas meshing with some of the old ideas. We'll see how that continues to go as we go through our off-season process and where we land with that. But yeah, obviously when you get... to me, we got a little bit stale on offense by the end of the year, and these ideas and this new person coming in is meant to take away the staleness and add the value of what they're adding to the offense."

When asked for more clarification on whether it would be Sirianni's scheme and whether he would have full authority on what is run, Sirianni said that the new offensive coordinator would be in charge of the offense.

"It's our scheme," he said. "It'll be our scheme of what we're doing. Again, I don't know exactly what that will look like yet. We're bringing in a guy to bring in new ideas, to do the things that he's done in the past. We're going through an extensive search to get that right person. But it would be crazy not to add some of the things that we've done in the past here, as well. 

"We're working on getting the best guy in here for the job and a guy who has a vision, a guy who's going to call the plays, a guy who's going to be able to coach the quarterback in the same sense there. It's just about getting the right guy, and then we'll decide where that goes, but I'm hiring him to do a job and to be in charge of the offense."

2) Nick Sirianni will be more of a "CEO" head coach going forward.

When it was fleshed out that the new coordinator would run the offense, Sirianni was then asked, verbatim, "If the offensive coordinator is going to be in charge of the offense and the defensive coordinator is going to be in charge of the defense, what is your role going to be?"

Oh man, that reminded me of this.

"I guess it would be very similar to what's going on right now," Sirianni said. "Does that mean I'll sit more into defensive meetings at times? Maybe. Instead of always being in an offensive meeting. Maybe I go to a defensive meeting here and there. But my job is to be the head coach of the team, not the head coach of the offense, not the head coach of the defense, not the head coach of the special teams, but be the head coach of the football team. 

"So that's building the culture. That's making sure the culture is working with our five core values, are taking every day at a time. We're not coming up with new core values. We may shuffle where things are that are important and the most important, but that's diving into that, building the culture, having a relationship with the guys on the football team because I know when I have that connection with the guys on the football team, that's when the culture is working and working at a high level, and that's where our connection with the players and their connection with each other works well, too."

So he's going to be a "people person." There's nothing wrong or embarrassing with that type of approach, in my opinion. Guys like John Harbaugh in Baltimore and Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh have built long careers on being that kind of coach, and more recently Dan Campbell in Detroit is having success in that way as well. 

Was this a "suggestion" from above, which had to be accepted by Sirianni as a condition to remain the head coach?

3) More heads will roll.

The Eagles haven't fired any positional coaches yet, but they will.

"We're still working," Sirianni said, when asked if the staff evaluations had been completed yet. "And that's what's tough. You're still working, and there's still some guys that are up in the air. I hate this for them, because we are replacing coordinators, and there's guys that are up in the air, and their families are up in the air in the sense of -- I've got to get a coordinator in before we make a decision on maybe some of the quality controls or some of the position coaches.

"I know I believe in the guys upstairs, but also, there has to be an ability for some of the coordinators to bring in maybe one or two of their guys, or more. That's still an evaluation process. That's something that might not get sorted out until the coordinator is hired, until that coordinator gets to meet with some of the guys, make sure they can work together. So that's still a process that we're going through."

4) It doesn't appear that more priority will be placed on the linebacker position.

Roseman was asked about the underperformance of the defensive line relative to the resources dumped into that unit, and if anything that happened during the season changed their view of roster building prioritization. Roseman ignored the part about the defensive line and went right to the linebackers.

"I feel like we've had a long history of success here building the team a certain way, and I think maybe there are some preconceived notions that at the linebacker position, that we don't care who we play at linebacker," Roseman said. "Again, our two Super Bowl teams over the last six years, the linebacker play was good from those guys.

"I think if anything, it's my belief in the players that we have, the young players that we have. I have a lot of belief, and I know Coach does, as well, in Nakobe Dean. I believe in the player. I believe in the person. We lost two linebackers at that spot, two good players from our Super Bowl team, and we had Nakobe waiting in the wings. We drafted him for that role. Obviously, it didn't work out perfectly for him this year. That doesn't change the belief we have in the player.

"Then we felt like we'd have the ability to get an off-ball linebacker, WILL linebacker, who can run and hit, and honestly when you watch the tape, Zach Cunningham had a good year. He really did. He had a mentality that we like for that position."

First, let's start with Dean. Entering the 2023 season, Dean was the clear No. 1 linebacker on the roster, as the team was counting on him to take on a much bigger role than what he had as a rookie in 2022. As Roseman acknowledged, that did not go to plan, as he landed on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury Week 1 against the Patriots. 

He returned Week 6 and played in four games before again suffering a foot injury that landed him on injured reserve for a second time. All told, he only played in 5 games, making 30 tackles, a half sack, and creating no turnovers. He was fine as a run defender and as a tackler (PFF had him down for 0 missed tackles), but he has struggled in coverage (PFF had him down for 13 completions on 14 targets for 120 yards).

He also did not stand out in a positive way in training camp either as a rookie in 2022 or in his second year in 2023. This past offseason, the Eagles placed way too many eggs in the Nakobe Dean basket, hoping that he would become a good three-down linebacker, with no real backup plan if he didn't.

The Eagles entered training camp with six linebackers, in order of importance at the time:

  1. Nakobe Dean
  2. Nicholas Morrow
  3. Christian Elliss
  4. Shaun Bradley
  5. Ben VanSumeren
  6. Davion Taylor

Roseman mentioned Cunningham's "good season," but he wasn't even on the roster until the second week of training camp, when he was added along with Myles Jack because the linebackers in place looked wholly underwhelming. He was not part of the team's plans heading into the season. The Eagles were lucky to have gotten competent play out of him. 

During the season, when Dean couldn't stay on the field, the Eagles had to further add guys like Shaq Leonard, Ben VanSumeren (from the practice squad), and Brandon Smith. None were viable options in the regular defense.

And as for the comment that the team got good play from the linebackers during the Super Bowl years, that's true. Nigel Bradham had his best year by far in 2017, and that team also had Jordan Hicks, who got hurt, and Mychal Kendricks, who was decent enough in his role. In 2022, T.J. Edwards had a very good season, and Kyzir White was a respectable starter who both happened to stay healthy. "Good?" "Good enough?" Potato, potahto. At a minimum, they didn't actively hurt the team.

In the years the Eagles didn't make the Super Bowl, the fans have had to suffer through players like Nate Gerry, Duke Riley, Eric Wilson, Zach Brown, and in 2023, Nicholas Morrow.

If you don't have good linebackers, opposing offenses these days can expose them in the middle of the field, much like they did to the Eagles' defense all season.

Should the Eagles completely change course and prioritize linebackers over the defensive line? Certainly not. Their formula of prioritizing the trenches is tried and true. But there can also be some middle ground.

An acknowledgement that the team did not have a good enough plan at linebacker and a promise to fix it would've been more palatable from Roseman than his defense of the obviously atrocious play they got at linebacker this season.

5) It appears the Eagles have their defensive coordinator.

That would be Vic Fangio. More on him here. During the press conference, it was reported that Fangio and the Dolphins were mutually parting ways, and that he was likely to be joining the Eagles' staff. 

When asked to comment on the report, Sirianni said, "We've got a lot of good targets that we're working through, and there are a lot of guys that have done really well in their interview process, and I look forward to continuing on that process. We'll see what happens."

In other words, he gave a diplomatic response, but also didn't shoot it down.


We got a little more in-depth about the presser in podcast form, in case anyone is interested in that. As of our publishing of this article at ~7:00 a.m. on Thursday, it's not there yet, but should appear soon as "BGN Radio #379." Listen below. And here's the iTunes link. Review, subscribe, etc.

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