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December 27, 2021

What they're saying: Is Nick Sirianni why Eagles are playoff contenders? Howie Roseman?

And will Jonathan Gannon be a head coach next year?

Eagles NFL
Nick-Sirianni-Eagles-Giants_122721 Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

Nick Sirianni... NFL coach of the year?

If you are plugged into the world of the Eagles at all, you are surely aware that there is a lot going on.

Philly, after its Week 16 win, more or less controls its own playoff destiny, though it can get a lot of help from other teams across the NFC — as well as the Cowboys (who might be resting their starters in Week 18). And their 'W' came after a ridiculous 16 days of rest.

Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard both sustained injuries and could miss next week, putting their run dominance in serious jeopardy.

Offensive tackle Lane Johnson caught a touchdown pass. Jalen Hurts missed a wide open touchdown pass. We could go on and on.

But there are even more Eagles storylines swirling in the Philly sports universe, and we've tracked down and highlighted some of the most interesting ones here, in our latest "what they're saying about the Eagles." Most of these deal with the coaching staff, which is starting to get a lot of attention across the football world.

Let's dive right in:

How they did it

Zach Berman | The Athletic

The Eagles had to play two games in six days (they won both), and due to a combination of their late Week 14 bye and the explosion of COVID cases in the NFL, practiced only once in 15 days. They also had to prepare for a large chunk of that time with their head coach Nick Sirianni quarantined in a hotel room.

So how on earth did this rookie coaching staff and inexperienced roster pull it off? Berman breaks it down. Here's a snippet:

The schedule last week was untraditional for a Sunday game. Sirianni only required a lifting session Wednesday, figuring the players could use a day away from the coaches. They had a walk-through Thursday and were on the field for a full practice for the first time — and only time — Friday. Sirianni didn’t know whether he would coach. He prepared passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo to handle the in-game decisions. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen was readying to be the play caller.

The offense also needed to adapt to Hurts playing a different style. He ran the ball only two times. You need to go back to an Alabama blowout of Mercer in 2017 to find the last time Hurts ran the ball only two times in a game he started. Hurts said it’s the way the game went, although it doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that this happened in his second game back from a sprained ankle (and another game in a truncated period). Hurts needed to rely on his arm, with better passes and decisions coming in the second half. The running game was affected by injuries to Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard.

But the Eagles were able to rely on their offensive and defensive lines, the two units in which the team has invested the most resources...[The Athletic]

What a perfect transition to our next entry...

Roseman's the man

Chris Franklin |

There have been a lot of articles, a lot of tweets and countless hours of criticism expended pretty much every year about Eagles GM Howie Roseman. He totally missed on JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor. He took Jalen Hurts in the second round and helped fuel Carson Wentz' wild exodus from Philly. He's had plenty of misses.

But credit is due to the GM when he makes a right choice, and after Philly's dominating win Sunday, Sirianni had nothing but love for his boss, crediting him for being one of the main reasons for the most recent win.

“It all comes back to the types of guys that we have in that locker room,” Sirianni said. “A ton of credit obviously to Howie and his staff of how they assembled this team. Howie said, ‘Great job coming back from a two and five start.’ I said, ‘Howie, great job. Like what other first-year head coaches are in the position I’m in? We have a great offensive and defensive line.”


Roseman sent the team’s first and third-round picks to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for their first-round pick, the selection that turned out to be wide receiver DeVonta Smith. Smith, whom the Giants had pined for through the draft process before being taken by the Eagles, finished the game with five catches for 80 yards, one of which was another highlight-reel reception that helped the Eagles begin their comeback.

The Eagles also rushed for 130 yards behind their offensive line and saw defensive end Josh Sweat and defensive lineman Milton Williams, two draft picks made by Roseman, each get a sack on Giants quarterbacks Jake Fromm and Mike Glennon.

The win put the Eagles in seventh place, a game over the Minnesota Vikings for the final wild card spot in the NFC. After seeing his team win, Sirianni sat on the podium and praised Roseman on the job he and the front office had done. []

The coach of the year?

Reuben Frank | NBC Sports Philadelphia

Roseman deserves some credit for this team being on the cusp of a surprise playoff spot, but if you've followed closely with the arc of the season, the coach has to get some praise for taking a 2-5 team and making them contenders — and the best running team in football. Even if their level of competition has been really bad. 

Has he been the best in the NFL this season? NBCSP's Frank thinks so. Here's some of why:

He’s been brilliant. The job he’s done not only keeping this team together but guiding them within reach of a playoff berth has been nothing less than phenomenal.

This team was dead. 

And he’s navigated them through loss after loss. Through ugly turnovers and a league-high in penalties and ineffective first-round picks and an 0-4 start at the Linc and the uncertainty of COVID and the annual rash of offensive line injuries.

Sirianni has been masterful in every way. He’s gotten his players to share the same unfailingly positive mentality that’s the essence of his personality. He’s taught them how to focus on the moment and ignore all that came before or is yet to come. He’s gotten them to believe in each other and believe in themselves.

All those phrases he uses that are easy to roll your eyes at -- dawg mentality, connecting, accountability -- they mean an awful lot to these players. 

To them, they’re not silly clichés. They’re a way of life. [NBCSP]

Gannon gone?

Brandon Lee Gowton | Bleeding Green Nation

The Eagles defense was awful to start the year and continues to be frustrating to many Eagles fans. However, they've improved a great deal over the last few weeks, corresponding with the Birds' surge in the standings. Rumors have circulated that Jonathan Gannon, the team's first year defensive coordinator is getting some interest from teams looking to get a head start on their next head coach. Really? Gannon?

BGN's Brandon Lee Gowton added come context the rumors in a recent post. Take a look:

....the Eagles’ defense has allowed the second-fewest yards per play and 13th fewest offensive points. They’re allowing 16.7 points per game over their last six, in which they’ve gone 5-1.

Of course, it helps that the Eagles have played some really bad quarterbacks in that stretch. No one is shaking in their boots when it comes to facing Teddy Bridgewater, Trevor Siemian, Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson, Garrett Gilbert, or the combination of Jake Fromm/Mike Glennon. Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, which accounts for level of competition, has the Eagles’ defense ranked 23rd out of 32 units. Pro Football Focus’s grading has it tied for the 17th best unit.

In fairness to Gannon, he’s in his first year on the job and he could benefit from the Eagles adding more defensive talent to the roster. He could draw more interest down the line after fielding some really strong units.

But he’s yet to prove he has answers to slowing down the league’s better quarterbacks. It would be a surprise if a team hired him away as soon as this offseason. Down the road? Sure, possibly. But not yet.

At least, the Eagles probably hope that’s the case. [BGN]

Ever so close

Marcus Hayes | Philadelphia Inquirer

There are a lot of excuses that can be made for the Eagles, now above .500 for the first time since Week 1, and why they are playing such good football. After all, the list of quarterbacks they have beaten this year is comical. But if you ask Hayes — who predicted the Eagles would win 10 games this year — your record is what it says you are. And he is feeling pretty good about a team that has bounced back from quite a bit of adversity this season.

Admittedly, the Eagles’ wins lack some luster.

The half-empty perspective: As of Sunday afternoon they hadn’t beaten a winning team and they hadn’t beaten any other team that had currently qualified for the playoffs.

The half-full view: Good teams have to beat the bad teams. The Birds have just one bad loss, to these Giants. They evened that account Sunday.

The 2021 Eagles always were going to be a decent NFL team ... by comparison. Between the too-old quarterbacks and the too-young quarterbacks and the remarkably poor coaching, mainly from the fashionable under-50 set, NFL football, today, stinks. Football in Philadelphia on Sunday stunk, even when played by the good team. At least, it stunk early.

The Eagles were sloppy. Sluggish. Sapped.

“I think you could really feel the effects of the short turnaround in the first half,” said left tackle Jordan Mailata. “The rhythm was off.”

They pressed on. []

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