Unnamed Eagles questioning Nick Sirianni, Michael Robinson Says

Lane Johnson called the report fake news and Jason Kelce spoke highly of the new head coach, but Robinson said players are questioning if Sirianni can lead the team
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When you factor in Nick Sirianni's personality with his youth and inexperience, it wasn't difficult to project two camps developing when it came to first impressions.

The glass-is-half-full crowd was exemplified by Lane Johnson earlier this week.

“He’s taken great command of the team early on," the Pro Bowl right tackle told ESPN. "I think what I appreciate about him the most is he holds everybody accountable. When we go to practice, it doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or a rookie on the first day. If you’re making mistakes, he’ll push you on the board. Not to call you out, but really to kinda get you better.

"What that shows, if he can do that with veterans, then the younger guys will come along as well. That’s been my impression early on. It’s been a lot of fun, really a lot of energy."

It's fair to say there are players in the Eagles locker room who look at the same glass Johnson sees and view it as half empty. They were given a voice by former NFL fullback and current NFL Network analyst Michael Robinson.

"I'm not going to say any names, but I know some guys in that locker room who they question this guy and they question he can truly lead this team," Robinson, a former Penn State quarterback, told YahooSports.

From an ex-player's perspective, Robinson sees a speed-bump for owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman.

"My personal thoughts on it is that, maybe Howie Roseman wanted to put somebody - a yes man - in the head coaching position because Doug Pederson didn't want to do things all the way his way. So he wanted to get a yes man in there, at least, that's what it looks like to me."

Robinson is hardly alone in expressing that kind of sentiment.

"My biggest concern about Sirriani is that he's going to be manipulated by the owner and the GM," noted Jason Cole, the Pro Football Hall of Fame voter whose past stops have included The Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report, said when talking with SI.com's Eagle Maven.

"Sirianni seems to me like a guy who's gonna get run over by the owner and the GM," Cole continued.

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Robinson, meanwhile, also expressed concerns on Sirianni being able to take a leap from a guy getting his first head-coaching interview late in Lurie's latest process to a head coach in one of the most difficult markets in the NFL.

"Do we even really know the head coach Nick Sirianni?" Robinson asked rhetorically. "When you talk about quarterbacks wanting to go to Indy last year and the previous years, it wasn't like they were going there because of Nick Sirianni. They were going there because of Frank Reich."

Reich, Pederson's first OC as the Eagles head coach, spoke very highly of Sirianni to the Eagles' brass according to a team source, however.

"I don't know if he's a quarterback whisperer or an offensive guru, or whatever the case may be, but it just doesn't seem like he is that guy," Robinson said. "It seems like Frank Reich was calling plays and Frank Reich was the juice behind that offense. So, I think it is about this team getting to know Nick Sirianni."

For what it's worth Johnson quickly offered a rebuttal to Robinson's take on social media, calling it "fake news."

Center Jason Kelce was asked about Sirianni as recently as June 30 during his guest bartending stint to raise money for the Eagles Autism Foundation in Sea Isle City.

I" think the offseason program was a lot of fun," Kelce told SI.com Eagle Maven. "Nick practiced what he preached. A lot of coaches give lip service about competition. Everybody’s going to talk about that, but actually instituting drill of competition, actually forcing people to go up there and talk about your teammates who you have connected with. He’s really practicing what he’s preaching.

"But it was a really fun three weeks, a very short period (where there was) a little virtual time there, so we got some extra, but I really like everything so far.

"Now I get to experience what it’s going to be like in training camp, during the season, how we overcome adversity, all those things, but so far I've really enjoyed it."

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Sirianni is going to have doubters just like every previous Lurie hire dating back to Ray Rhodes. Every single one of Lurie's choices to date was a first-time head coach at the NFL level and Sirianni comes is as perhaps the most unknown commodity since Andy Reid in 1999.

Fast forward over two decades and Reid is a sure-fire Hall of Fame coach and the template for any lesser-known hires around the NFL.

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.