In 2021, Nick Sirianni was panned for his introductory press conference and took over an Eagles team that saw their worst regular season performance in almost a decade. The Birds jettisoned their former franchise quarterback in the offseason and entered the fall with a big question mark at quarterback in second-year signal-caller Jalen Hurts. For as much of a football city that Philadelphia is, it felt as if apathy had set in a bit. Expectations were low.
Sirianni weathered a sloppy early season storm and led the Birds to an unlikely playoff berth last year. Couple that with a buzzy offseason that includes the acquisitions of A.J. Brown, Jordan Davis, Nakobe Dean and James Bradberry, expectations couldn’t be more different for 20221. The Eagles’ head coach is self-aware. He knows that the discourse around the team has changed rapidly in his time here. That shift, however, hasn’t changed his tone in the building.
“I think you find ways to make it fresh and different but the core values are still the core values. That’s not changing. That’s what we build our whole thing on,” Sirianni said to reporters at the NovaCare Complex this summer when discussing his messaging to the players. “And then I think about the other side messaging things. Okay, you have your core values and then we have our dawg mentality.”
No, this isn’t the first time during his Philly tenure that Sirianni has mentioned “dawg mentality.”
“‘Dawg mentality’ isn’t just ‘Hey, I made a good play here, so I’m playing the next play,'” Sirianni said during a press conference last September. “Or, ‘Hey, I made a bad play. I’m playing the next play and having a short memory.’ It’s also a week-to-week thing. It’s a day-to-day thing, right?
“It is just living in the moment.”
Don’t gas yourself up too much after wins and don’t hold onto those losses too dearly. It’s a more lively take than typical coach-speak.
Don’t expect that “dawg mentality” line to turn into a negative talking point about Sirianni’s coaching style akin to his infamous blooming flower speech last season. He’s earned the respect to use his voice here. He certainly hasn’t been scared to get metaphorical when speaking to the media, sure. It, however, feels more apt than ever heading into his second training camp with the Eagles.
“That was the analogy of how we have to play one play to the next, one week to the next. Of having the short-term memory of just playing the next play, being in the moment,” Sirianni continued on with reporters.
“So in the middle of the season I told a story about a basketball game of mine,” Sirianni said. “When I was a junior, we were really good, we went to the state final eight and I was the fourth guy on that team. But then a couple guys graduated, my first game of my senior year comes up and I’m the one that takes the last shot. I take my last shot, I fade away — I have it on tape, I showed it to the guys — I fade away and it looks so pretty. And it stuck. Last play and it gets stuck in between the backboard and the rim. And the camera zoomed in on it. I’m like, ‘Okay, guys, this was an embarrassing moment. Here was my next game. I had 26 points my next game. So we came back I didn’t think about that.’”
That “dawg mentality” is emblematic of not giving up and continuing to fight. Overcoming adversity is a requirement in the NFL. Sirianni talking about the Eagles’ rough 2-5 start in 2021 hits those vibes too.
“How’s this guy going to react when we’re 2-5?” Sirianni said in judging a player’s character in the face of a tough situation. “So it’s a baseline of the types of players you have and how they’re going to respond. That’s a huge thing. You never want to start 2-5, but it brings you back to, like, ‘How is this guy going to react to adversity?’ And adversity can look like 2-5, adversity can look like a friend passing away, a family member passing away, whatever it is, hardships at home, hardships with a relationship, how are these guys going to handle it? I think that’s a big thing.”
None of these things should be viewed through the lens of some cliched “Philly is a hard-working, lunchpail city” line of thinking. Yes, Sirianni’s chats with the media have brought him negative publicity at times with that intro presser, his flower power lecture and challenging prospects to rock, paper, scissors at the Combine, but Sirianni has nevertheless felt authentic through it all. Maybe it’s kitschy from an outside perspective, but the Eagles players responded well when that “dawg mentality” was a necessity following that 2-5 start last season that had the pitchforks out in Philly.
This is the evolutionary strain of “Hungry dogs run faster.” Eagles fans are assuredly hoping for another speech from Jason Kelce at the Art Museum that talks about “dawg mentality.” If the Birds get off to a hot to start in 2022 with a soft early schedule, prepare for “Sirianni has that dawg in him” memes and jokes to take over social media.
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports
Add Shamus’ RSS feed to your feed reader