Position Coaches Make Strong First Impression

Unlike Nick Sirianni, who fumbled his first impression but has since rebounded, his staff looked bright and capable of helping the Eagles win games this year and beyond
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PHILADELPHIA - The time had come for Nick Sirianni’s first news conference, his first chance to make a first impression on a demanding fan base that had no idea who or, even, what a Sirianni was.

Prior to heading into the auditorium at the team’s South Philly training facility for a virtual introduction, a week after it was learned that he was hired on Jan. 24, the new coach handed off a list of chores for passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo.

“I really didn't pay attention too much to it because he was so busy doing that stuff that I had all the other stuff he wanted me to do,” remembered Patullo earlier this week. 

“He's like, 'Hey, I got to do this, so you got to do this, this, and this for me.’ So, I was kind of like running around making phone calls, you know, ‘Hey, we're gonna interview this guy, do this, do that. We're going to set up this, set up that.’ (I was) walking around the building. What are we going to change? You know, things like that.”

Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon

Jonathan Gannon

Patullo never saw Sirianni fumble his presser.

“I really didn't pay attention to much of it until after the fact,” said Patullo. “And even then it was kind of like, OK, you know, it's your first one, well, we'll just keep going from there.

“And I know what kind of guy he is and what he can do and, and what he does in front of the team. That's the setting I see him in the most and how real he is. So, you know, it (Sirianni's initial presser) was kind of unique, to say the least.”

Since then, Sirianni has proven quite adept at speaking to his players, based on what was witnessed during three mostly-open OTA sessions the media was allowed to watch, and he has made amends with some solid virtual videoconferences.

On the first practice open for about a half-hour to reporters, Sirianni made it a point to come to the sideline and fist bump everyone there telling them he was looking forward to getting each person better.

So yeah, he gets it.

Can he get wins?

Really, that’s all that matters.

The three coaches who came first were all in their late 30s, though Sirianni will turn 40 on June 15 and Patullo will quickly follow him to that milestone birthday almost a month later, on July 14. Gannon just turned 28 on April 4.

Then there are the position coaches.

While Sirianni’s first impression was uninspiring, the first impressions made by them earlier this week were solid.

Two of them were holdovers from the previous regime - OL coach Jeff Stoutland and WR coach Aaron Moorehead - but it was the first time hearing from them the other seven this offseason when they were made available on individual videoconferences.

They came across as bright and understanding the need to develop players, and that's good since the Eagles have some very young ones that need development. 

Eagles LB coach Nick Rallis

Nick Rallis

Most revealing was that each of them was in lockstep with what Sirianni has been preaching – competition for jobs and connecting.

“That’s a key thing that coach Sirianni has really installed in this team is the connection with the players, coach to player, coach to coach, player to player,” said LB coach Nick Rallis. “When we get to know people, it allows us to connect with them at a better level.”

And if a player proves to be better than another, he will play. It won’ matter if he is a rookie or in his second or third year.

“At the end of the day, that’s how you want your roster to be built, with guys who fight for positions and know they have to compete and perform,” said RB Jemal Singleton.

That feels like a departure from the last few years, which seemed hesitant to trust rookies, especially on defense, and went with the veterans more often than not in an effort to try to win another Super Bowl.

It didn't work.

Hence, a new staff to handle a much-needed injection of youth on the roster.

If rookie cornerback Zech McPhearson is better than Avonte Maddox, McPhearson will start.

READ MORE: Philadelphia Eagles CB Zech McPhearson could be answer to ...

“Whoever comes in and puts it all together, because it’s an open competition, that’s who you’re going to see out there on Sundays,” said DB coach Dennard Wilson.

Perhaps of all the words the assistants spoken over the two days – and there were plenty – were the ones heard from Rallis when asked about Gannon.

Rallis explained how the DC is open-minded and that he listens to every single coach on the staff. That, the LB coach said, will make him and others feel like, if they have an idea, they can voice it because Gannon has no ego.

Also, Gannon gives each coach autonomy over his particular position. As Rallis put it, “he distributes autonomy.”

Then, Rallis added: “He knows that if he just stuck to his knowledge, we’re only going to go as far as his knowledge, so he not only utilizes his knowledge but everyone else on the staff, so the room for growth is that much greater. Jonathan, from a defensive coordinator standpoint, is an excellent leader because he’s going to maximize everybody’s talent from the coaches to the players.”

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.