Examining the NFC East: The Coaches

When it comes to strategy in the NFC East, it's youth vs. experience
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Maybe it’s not a coincidence that the perceived top-half of the NFC East is the one with the veteran coaches and the bottom half has the younger, unproven models.

When talking with league executives and personnel people they tend to default to what they know and the Washington Football Team with Ron Rivera and the Dallas Cowboys with Mike McCarthy have the veteran coaches who’ve won a combined 227 NFL games.

The New York Giants are moving forward with second-year man Joe Judge and the Eagles, of course, have a rookie head coach in Nick Sirianni after somewhat surprisingly moving on from Doug Pederson less than three calendar years from winning the franchise’s only Super Bowl.

In a lot of ways, Judge was the Sirianni of the 2020 hiring cycle, a largely unknown candidate who is now regarded as an up-and-comer with a solid future after one six-win season.

The same will likely be the case for Sirianni, hopefully with a few more wins, by 2022.

Nick Siriani following the final OTA of the 2021 spring

Nick Sirianni

For now, though, the low expectations around the Eagles almost exclusively revolve around Sirianni, who comes across as a bit of a rah-rah guy, and a first-year starter at quarterback in Jalen Hurts.

The good news there is lowered expectations tend to result in an overachieving narrative which will play well for the Eagles coach moving forward.

Long term, Sirianni, like any other NFL mentor, will be judged on his abilities once the honeymoon period is over.

Here’s how the NFC East shapes up when it comes to the head coaches in the division:

No. 4 - Philadelphia Eagles: It’s not necessarily a slight to put Sirianni last in the division. He came across poorly at his introductory press conference and no one knows that much about him as a coach.

Behind the scenes, Sirianni seems like a more than competent football coach who will have to learn on the job like anyone else.

And that's the biggest concern for many league executives, the lack of a veteran sounding board who’s been there and done that. Think Jim Schwartz for Doug Pederson, Wade Phillips for Sean McVay, or even Jason Garrett for Judge.

“It’s a big job,” a former AFC personnel executive said. “There’s going to be some growing pains that could have been alleviated with some help.”

No. 3 - New York Giants: Judge is a no-nonsense guy who has come across as a leader for the most part. Unlike Siriannai, whose inner circle seems to be Shane Steichen, Kevin Patullo, and perhaps Jonathan Gannon, Judge had former longtime Cowboys coach Garrett to help navigate some of the pitfalls of a larger market.

Giant coach Joe Judge on Jalen Hurts

Joe Judge

There were still issues, most notably the firing of offensive line coach Marc Colombo, a Garrett guy, after a verbal altercation. The six wins and second place in a bad division have created optimism, however, so you can see the grading curve for Sirianni shouldn’t be all that steep in Year 1.

No. 2 - Dallas Cowboys: McCarthy seems to take a lot of hits with younger observers who believe his offense is outdated and Aaron Rodgers was the real reason for any success in Green Bay.

If you’re being fair, however, eight 10-win seasons, nine postseason appearances, four NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl championship isn’t a bad resume and Dak Prescott was en route to historic passing numbers before getting injured last season.

No. 1 - Washington Football Team: Ron Rivera is by far the most well-respected coach in the division as a veteran successful mentor who exudes leadership. Rivera’s division title with the WFT was his fourth as a head coach to go along with five playoff appearances and a Super Bowl berth.

His numbers aren’t near McCarthy’s, however, but that’s the Rodgers effect again with some downplaying of McCarthy’s accomplishments.

“If any organization needed a steady hand it was [Daniel] Snyder’s,” a former AFC personnel executive said. “I don’t know how long it will last with what’s going on down there but I don’t know too many other guys who could handle [the situation.]”

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.

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