PHILADELPHIA — If you watched the conflict on the sideline, you might think the Eagles were 0-5 this season, not 5-0.
On Sunday, coach Nick Sirianni gave MVP candidate Jalen Hurts some animated coaching points after his quarterback was picked off in the end zone during a win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Fiery center Jason Kelce, apparently upset over the red zone breakdowns, gave Sirianni and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland an earful of rant on the sideline. Kelce would later say he was a little too emotional.
Wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who caught just one pass while A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert both amassed more than 100 receiving yards was shown being consoled by Sirianni.
And who can forget a few weeks ago when Brown confronted Hurts on the Eagles’ sideline at Lincoln Financial Field for an animated “discussion” with his best bud?
“Shoot, I guess I’m animated a lot,” Sirianni said Wednesday. “So, I don’t think I can be animated on the sideline and then ask anybody else not to be. I think that’s part of the game. Emotion is part of the game. Getting to the root of the problem is part of the game. Just like you have a coaching point, sometimes it’s going to be delivered with a smack on the butt. Sometimes it’s going to be delivered with a yell. To me, that’s healthy. When you’re connected and when you’re together, the only thing that matters is that we’re getting better from it.”
Sirianni, 42, was seven years old and following the Buffalo Bills when members of the 1988 team with Hall of Famers Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas were openly critical of each other and dubbed the “Bickering Bills.” It took a news conference with squabbling teammates Kelly and Thomas reading prepared statements to cool off the infighting permeating the locker room and even the coaching staff. The Bills rallied to reach the playoffs, and from 1990-93 appeared in four straight Super Bowls.
The Bickering Birds, if you will, are a different story. Theirs is a story of constructive criticism. Thirty-five-year-old Eagles veteran Brandon Graham, who along with Kelce is the senior statesman on the team, says the squabbling is healthy because it hasn’t gone too far and shows that players and coaches care.
“Everything doesn’t always go how you’d like it to,” Graham said. “But I think it’s about how you fight. Yeah, sometimes tempers might flare a little bit but it’s not like it’s the way people are making it seem because nobody knows what was said. We’ve just got a standard that we live by and I don’t think it’s anything personal. I just think it’s more about like, ‘Man, you said this and it ain’t happening yet.’ I think we’ve got a mature team to be able to handle all of that and be able to make it where we can have good counsel on the sideline, and if somebody feels like we’re getting a little carried away, let’s reel it back in. It’s not like we don’t reel it back in. It’s just more about how it looks sometimes to the people on the outside looking in.”
Like the winning results, the optics of those events are much more entertaining from the outside than internally.
“I think it’s what was captured,” Hurts said of the TV shots. “Whatever was captured, was captured. I don’t think it was any different than a regular game.”
Whatever happens on the sideline, it’s tough to argue with the results. Sirianni is 28-11 (.718) in charge of the Eagles, the best winning percentage in club history. He’s among eight coaches since 1970 to produce back-to-back 5-0 starts. Hurts has won 22 of his last 23 regular season starts. The Eagles are fifth in the league in points scored, top the circuit in rushing defense and have run 358 offensive plays, far and away the most in football.
Wearing emotions on their sleeves is working for them.
“If I had to take emotion out of our sideline, I’d have to go sit in the press box,” Sirianni said. “And I don’t see any head coaches doing that.”
Source: Berkshire mont