With the Philadelphia Eagles hiring Nick Sirianni as their new head coach, there’s a lot of talk about how the Frank Reich protégé is being counted on to fix Carson Wentz. NFL insider Ian Rapoport explicitly said the Eagles believe in Sirianni to do as much:
“What it seemed like is owner Jeffrey Lurie specifically wanted an offensive coach who could help make Carson Wentz Carson Wentz again. And we’ve spent so much time talking about where Carson Wentz is going to get dealt this offseason. Is he going to go to Indianapolis with Frank Reich? Instead, what the Eagles did is brought Indianapolis to Philly, they hired Frank Reich’s right hand man, Nick Sirianni, the offensive coordinator for the last couple years. He’s impressed during games, though, of course, he does not call plays. He’s a bright young coach who they believe is going to get not just the organization going in the right direction, but Carson Wentz going in the right direction as well.”
On the surface, this makes sense! Getting Wentz fixed is the fastest way to change this organization’s outlook for the better. There’s some hope that Sirianni can be the right guy due to the Reich connection and his own background coaching quarterbacks.
But one shouldn’t be so confident that fixing Wentz will be so easy.
SIRIANNI ISN’T EXACTLY SOME INCREDIBLE QB GURU
Let’s be clear: there are certainly positives to be taken from Sirianni’s work with quarterbacks.
Some good things to consider:
- Andrew Luck had the best completion percentage, passer rating, and sack percentage of his career in 2018. He also fumbled the fewest amount of times.
- Jacoby Brissett was tied (with Tom Brady!) for the 18th best passer rating in 2019. The Colts won seven games with a guy who belongs as a backup, which is pretty solid.
- Philip Rivers had the third highest completion percentage, the sixth highest passer rating, and the second lowest sack percentage in the final season of his career last year. Rivers also had his fourth and fifth highest completion percentages with Sirianni serving as the San Diego Chargers’ quarterbacks coach.
- Two of Rivers’ five lowest seasons in terms of interception percentage came while working with Sirianni.
But there are also some negatives to weigh.
And now for the bad things:
- When Sirianni has served as either OC or QB coach, his starting quarterbacks have a combined 42-41 record. #QBWinz doesn’t always offer the most context but being barely above .500 isn’t the most encouraging look.
- Rivers made the Pro Bowl in four out of five seasons before Sirianni became his QB coach. Rivers made the Pro Bowl zero times when Sirianni was his QB coach. Rivers made the Pro Bowl three straight years after Sirianni was moved out of the QB coach position.
- Out of 15 seasons as a starter, Rivers only had his eighth and ninth best passer ratings when Sirianni was his QB coach.
- Rivers tied Jay Cutler for the NFL lead in interceptions during Sirianni’s first year as QB coach.
So, kind of a mixed bag here.
Optimistically, Sirianni’s track record suggests he might be able to help Wentz cut down on taking sacks and fumbles by getting the ball out quicker. Here’s how his quarterbacks have ranked in average time to throw (per Pro Football Focus):
- 2014 Rivers — 26th fastest
- 2015 Rivers — 6th fastest
- 2018 Luck — 9th fastest
- 2019 Brissett — 33rd fastest
- 2020 Rivers — 6th fastest
But it remains to be seen how Wentz will take to Sirianni’s coaching. On that note ...
CARSON WENTZ NEEDS TO HELP FIX HIMSELF
BGN’s John Stolnis recently wrote a good piece titled: “Carson Wentz isn’t fixable if he doesn’t think he needs fixing.”
It’s 100% true. Wentz can’t merely rely on a coach to fix him. Josh Allen didn’t become a much more accurate in passer just because the Buffalo Bills hired Brian Daboll. Allen recognized his flaws and worked very hard on his own to fix them.
Wentz’s work ethic shouldn’t be doubted. But it’s unclear if he’s working in the right way to fix what needs to change. Based on his actions, it doesn’t seem like he truly realizes how much he was to blame for his own struggles in 2020. He reportedly made excuses for his mistakes. Instead of being humbled by his benching, he reportedly complained to Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie. He seemingly had his camp leak trade requests and, at the very least, he did nothing to distance himself from those reports.
The Eagles hiring Sirianni is a little concerning in that Josh McDaniels and Duce Staley might’ve been passed over in part for how they’re perceived to implement hard coaching. It feels like Wentz, who has wielded too much power and influence thus far, might’ve gotten his way yet again considering how he likes Reich and the Eagles hired the next closest thing to their former offensive coordinator.
It’s been said that Sirianni has an edge to him, or at least more-so than Doug Pederson. Hopefully that’s true and hopefully Wentz embraces tougher coaching. He needs to be held more accountable than he has to this point.
COACHING STAFF HIRES WILL BE IMPORTANT
The head coach isn’t always working with the quarterback 1-on-1. He doesn’t have time for that; he has an entire roster to oversee. Who the Eagles hire as offensive coordinator and quarterback will be critical to helping Wentz.
The feeling here is that the Eagles must make a strong push to hire Jim Caldwell. I think his addition could be huge for this organization. I previously highlighted his track record with quarterbacks when he was rumored as an offensive coordinator candidate last year:
We previously mentioned Caldwell as a Frank Reich replacement in 2018. The allure is that quarterbacks have excelled when he’s worked with them.
Caldwell was the Indianapolis Colts’ assistant head coach and quarterbacks from 2002 through 2008. Peyton Manning’s accomplishments in that seven-year span: two-time NFL MVP, one-time Super Bowl MVP, four-time first-team All Pro, seven-time Pro Bowler. Pretty good. Caldwell was promoted to head coach and went 24-8 in his first two seasons before Manning missed the 2011 season with a neck injury and the Colts went 2-14.
Caldwell landed with the Baltimore Ravens, where he served as their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2012 through 2013. Joe Flacco went on an ELITE tear in the 2013 playoffs en route to a Super Bowl win. His numbers from that run : 14 TD, 0 INT, 117.2 passer rating. Just another mark in Caldwell’s favor.
Caldwell’s success in Baltimore inspired the Detroit Lions to give him a second chance as a head coach. The Lions went 36-28 over four years before firing him. Matthew Stafford made the only Pro Bowl of his career in Caldwell’s first year on the job and posted a 93.7 overall passer rating during the four years.
I’m not perfectly sure what new schematic ideas the 64-year-old Caldwell would be bringing to the table in Philly but there’s no denying that quarterbacks have produced under his tutelage. I like the idea of pairing him with Carson Wentz.
It’s worth noting that Caldwell does have a Philly connection: he overlapped with current Eagles vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl in Baltimore.
Surely, Caldwell isn’t the only qualified candidate to help fix Wentz. But he’s a damn good bet to make.
HOWIE ROSEMAN MUST DO HIS PART
Wentz has failed the Eagles but the team has also undoubtedly failed him in some respects. Maybe Sirianni will be able to get more out of the Eagles’ talent than Pederson did. But a new head coach alone isn’t going to fix everything. The Eagles MUST be much better when it comes to the player personnel department. Pairing Wentz with either Ja’Marr Chase or DeVonta Smith would be nice.
THE JALEN HURTS FACTOR
There’s a lot of assumption that Wentz is definitely still the Eagles’ starting quarterback. But is that definitely the case? Will there be a training camp competition? Will Wentz have a long leash if he struggles? Hurts’ presence in the building is hardly irrelevant.
Maybe the Eagles will prove to be right about Sirianni being the guy to help get Wentz back on track. It’d be great to see that happen. But such an outcome is far from guaranteed.
Are you confident Carson Wentz can be fixed under Nick Sirianni?
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