Two years ago to this day, the Eagles announced the hiring of Nick Sirianni as the franchise's 21st head coach and the immediate hot takes ranged from "Who is he?" to "It's worth a shot," and pretty much everything in between. There wasn't a whole lot to go on with Sirianni, who most recently had been the offensive coordinator with Indianapolis under Frank Reich.
Reich, we know, had been the Eagles' offensive coordinator in the Super Bowl LII victory and he spoke to me about Sirianni upon the news of the hire.
"He's been preparing for this his whole life. He's a young guy in many respects, but I'm just telling you: This guy is brilliant. Football smart. To his core, he's a football coach. He comes from a football family. He's a natural leader. He's got a lot of presence. He's a great coach on the field. He holds guys accountable. Strong leadership. Good communicator. Phenomenal teacher. All the qualities you need to be a head coach," Reich said.
"He's naturally a relational guy. It comes natural to him. He cares about people. He's the guy who knows everybody's name in the building because he cares. He's just great at connecting with people like that. Second, I know the organizational support he'll get from the Eagles to make that transition and that will help as well. He's ready for all of it. This is the right person at the right time for the Eagles."
Several days later, Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie introduced Sirianni in a COVID-world press conference and explained his thinking in hiring a coach who had never been a head man at any level of football.
"As soon as you got to spend time with Nick, and we probably spent about, I don't know, 10, 12 hours together over two days, it became apparent that this is a very special communicator, not just a brilliant football IQ, which was very evident early on as we went through how he game plans, how he attacks defenses, how he maximizes personnel, not just relying on a scheme but how to each week attack exactly who you're playing, what their strengths and weaknesses are in great detail. Much more than that," Lurie said. "He's somebody who connects with everybody. To me, it continues the culture we've had and builds on it. In today's world, it doesn't get talked about maybe that often, but for the Eagles, culture remains the most important thing. In our world today, there's such polarization, there's such a disconnect between people, people get divided by race, by age, by politics, whatever it is. There's social media that contributes to that.
"I think it's really valuable to have somebody that innately and genuinely cares about who they work with, the players that play for them and with them, the other coaches, the staff. Somebody who is genuine about caring. For me, Nick epitomizes that. The first step I think in being a great coach in modern football today, modern sports today, is to care very much about the players and coaches you work with, and everybody. But a player who is 22, 30 years old, in this world, if you care, you can earn trust. If the caring is not real, if you're not being genuine, players are too smart and they see right through that, as they should.
"One of the prerequisites for this job was to be able to have a head coach who literally cares every single day. That continues the culture that we've been building over the last five years, and potentially accentuates it even further."
Here we are, two seasons later, and Sirianni has coached the Eagles to two playoff appearances and, in this very special 2022 campaign, has won 15 games with Philadelphia one victory away from the Super Bowl. Everything that both Lurie and Reich said about Sirianni has been spot on - the ability to communicate, the leadership, the teaching ability, the brilliance in football IQ ... on and on and on. Sirianni was, and is, the right man for the job and we are all so fortunate that he is here, having assembled a terrific staff of coaches, many of them so young that there were calls from the outside to bring on board a veteran coach in 2021 to serve as a "mentor" to the younger coaches.
Not necessary. Sirianni piloted a turnaround from 2-5 to the postseason in his first year here with a relentlessly positive and supporting message and, buffeted by a practice regimen that stresses fundamentals and focus and accountability and connection - always connection - has the Eagles as the No. 1 seed in front of the home crowd in the NFC Championship Game.
Sirianni is the fifth head coach Lurie has hired in his time owning the Eagles and all five have reached the playoffs. It is an amazing track record, one Lurie felt great about two years ago when addressed a virtual media contingent introducing a coach who has quickly shown he is among the very best in the National Football League.
"I think it's just a day where I'm exhilarated," Lurie said then. "Been exhilarated during this search. Sometimes you think the search is, 'Oh, boy, we've got to do this lengthy search.' Really it was exhilarating for me and I think for all of us. Nick was sort of the culmination of a lot of thought that went into it, a lot of projection. Of course, that's what it is. It's an evaluation of what is now and what coach he can become and what organization we can become with his leadership.
"With that, I want to welcome Nick to the Eagles, to Philadelphia, to the best fan base in America. I wish him all the best. He's already gotten started. I think you're going to really enjoy what he provides as a person, as a coach, and as someone to get to know."
He was right about that. Everyone is exhilarated now with a team and a coach and a football program on the cusp of something great in the present and a future just as bright and promising.