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John McMullen: Nick Sirianni’s superpower showcased over 72 hours


Over the span of 72 hours, the hardcore NFL fans around the Delaware Valley should have developed a ramped-up appreciation for what the Eagles coaching staff has done to develop Jalen Hurts.

Philadelphia is 6-0 for only the third time in franchise history and the first time in nearly 20 years after a business-like 26-17 dismissal of its top rival, the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

That said, there is a lot going on when it comes to the local sports scene right now so it’s not surprising if few in a notoriously provincial sports town were on the edge of their seats back on Thursday night watching a trainwreck game between bad (the Washington Commanders) and even worse (the Chicago Bears).

And many of those who did waste three hours likely crossed the finish line to take another smug victory lap over the precipitous fall of Carson Wentz from 2017 MVP candidate to 2022 journeyman with yet another injury.

From a Philadelphia perspective, though, there was much more to glean from the ugly 12-7 Commanders win that culminated with the hapless Bears failing at the goal line in the waning seconds.

And it starts with the way Nick Sirianni has developed Hurts.

Ask any league personnel executive who has the better skill set to work with between the Eagles’ star quarterback and Fields, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2021 draft, and you’re getting the same answer every single time even from those at One NovaCare Way.

And there’s no need to go political and explain the margin of error in this poll, Fields is an exceptional talent from a purely physical perspective but has been mishandled in every conceivable way out in Chicago.

He was drafted by lame ducks, general manager (Ryan Pace), and head coach (Matt Nagy), who already had one foot out the door due to the talent deficiencies in the organization.

After a disappointing rookie season by Fields, the inevitable occurred with Ryan and Matt being replaced by Ryan (Ryan Poles) and Matt (Matt Eberflus).

Poles and Eberflus, the latter a defensive-minded head coach, quickly foreshadowed a lack of belief in the Fields as the future of the franchise by the way the offseason was handled.

The goal was clearly to rebuild and the ethos in Chicago is taking a step back to take two forward down the road.

Poles didn’t feel the need to build up around Fields because it’s already evident he and the head coach don’t believe the former Ohio State star via Georgia is going to be under center for very long.

The draft was defense-heavy at the top with defensive backs Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker to presumably satiate the new head coach, who has no skin in the game with Fields.

Personnel isn’t the issue, though, because Poles needs time to restock the empty shelves and even if the first-time GM is perfect, his predecessor did such a poor job that the ceiling was being better than the Detroit Lions in the NFC North.

What’s most troubling in Chicago is what’s great in Philadelphia.

Sirianni does the dance in the offseason, talking about what his bosses envision and working toward that goal from a developmental perspective.

Although the second-year head coach won’t admit it, publicly or privately, and the revisionist historians are working overtime to erase the organization’s desires to upgrade over Hurts back in the before time, the coach surely had a plan in place if Roseman belted a Rhys Hoskins-like emphatic “home run” of Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson.

It’s now clear Sirianni had an even better one in mind for Year 2 with Hurts, who has developed into a legitimate MVP candidate with bright offensive minds like Shane Steichen, Kevin Patullo, and Brian Johnson cultivating a strong work ethic and a unique skill set from their pupil.

None of us could possibly know what Fields might become with that standard of coaching but you can feel comfortable with the declarative statement that he would be better.

The Bears plucked Luke Getsy, Aaron Rodgers’ former position coach in Green Bay, from their most-heated rival and are asking Fields to parachute into a system and replicate what one of the greatest of all time has done

Poles, Eberflus, and the Bears made the classic mistake – they hired a scheme.

“The Bears are running [Getsy’s] vision instead of building around the quarterback’s abilities,” a former NFC personnel executive said. “Philadelphia is the obvious comp because Nick has built on Jalen as the plus-one in the running game. Everything plays off of that. Obviously, they are further along and have more talent but not being ready from a personnel perspective doesn’t mean you just run stuff the OC likes.

“You need to develop players, especially talented ones.”

Sirianni’s superpower as a coach is his lack of ego.

Whether it’s giving up play-calling to Steichen after realizing how big his job is or building an offense to take advantage of Philip Rivers or Hurts, the Eagles’ coach will do what he needs to do to win on a particular game day.

That might sound simple but it’s very rare in the NFL and it’s the reason Sirianni is the only coach that’s done it six consecutive times in the 2022 season.


John McMullen is a contributor to PhillyVoice.com and covers the Eagles and the NFL for Sports Illustrated and JAKIB Sports. He’s also the co-host of “Birds 365,” a daily streaming show covering the Eagles and the NFL, and the host of “Extending the Play” on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com. Follow John on Twitter.





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