The full length of a championship fight is 36 minutes. This, the Howie Roseman-Nick Sirianni year-end presser, ended on Wednesday afternoon at the 31-minute mark, indicating a 10th-round knockout. What will hang like an ominous, dark cloud over Eagles Nation for the next six months before training camp begins in July is this: With 10:44 left to play in the Eagles’ lethargic 32-9 Wild Card round playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will forever be Troy Aikman’s accurate assessment that the Eagles looked like “a defeated team and they were when they came in. And there’s been no life to this group really throughout the entire ball game.”
It could have been applied to Roseman and Sirianni.
They looked defeated before they sat down. They looked beaten when they answered questions. They looked like they suffered a 10th-round knockout without even getting to the title fight.
Like their team did the last month-and-a-half of the season.
No answers were provided, other than Roseman valiantly sitting by his coach.
The Eagles have not had a chance to scrub their official website. As of early Thursday morning, January 25, 2024, a look at the Eagles’ official website still lists a smiling Brian Johnson as offensive coordinator, a smiling Sean Desai as defensive coordinator, and a coaching staff who were looking into a much brighter future when those pictures were taken.
The times have changed dramatically since then.
The Eagles will be hiring 65-year-old sage Vic Fangio as their new defensive coordinator. They are looking for an offensive coordinator and from all indications from the press conference on Wednesday, may be soon looking for a new head coach, since the current one has little wiggle room for error, and has been neutered right there before the public.
When Sirianni responded to a question what his role will be in 2024 with, “The head coach of the football team,” some eyebrows raised.
When asked what that entailed, smoke signals rose when Sirianni replied, “Yeah, I guess it would be very similar to what’s going on right now. Does that mean I’ll sit more into defensive meetings at times? Maybe. Instead of always being in an offensive meeting. Maybe I go to a defensive meeting here and there. But my job is to be the head coach of the team, not the head coach of the offense, not the head coach of the defense, not the head coach of the special teams, but be the head coach of the football team. So that’s building the culture.
“That’s making sure the culture is working with our five core values, are taking every day at a time. We’re not coming up with new core values. We may shuffle where things are that are important and the most important, but that’s diving into that, building the culture, having a relationship with the guys on the football team because I know when I have that connection with the guys on the football team, that’s when the culture is working and working at a high level, and that’s where our connection with the players and their connection with each other works well, too.”
Think about that … “Yeah, I guess it would be very similar to what’s going on right now.”
You do not have to be a brain surgeon or football genius to see what is currently going on. The Eagles finished 1-6. Jalen Hurts was ailing, looked disinterested, needs to be a better leader (he works on improving everything he does) and got little help from Sirianni or the coaching staff. The defense was completely shot—especially the back seven, and the fanbase, whose confidence the organization needs to restore, checked out on them weeks before the playoffs.
Roseman tried to whitewash the downfall and Sirianni’s faults with, “The important thing for us to look at is before this stretch ... we were 26-5 in the last 31 games. It’s hard to find a head coach in this league who had that record of success.”
Sirianni gave the perfunctory reply of “How do I re-prove myself?” to Roseman and team Jeff Lurie, though with a new defined role not as head coach but as “Nicky figurehead,” “Nicky lameduck,” or “Nicky sis-boom-bah?”
How will that go over with a team that essentially has his back right now? Will it foster the thought of ‘well if management doesn’t believe in Nick, should we?”
The Eagles finished 11-6. They made the playoffs for the third-straight year. The defense needs a complete overhaul. The quarterback, who is accountable, needs to be coached hard again, and needs to regain his confidence. And a sour, broken team must trust one another again. That may be a lot to overcome in 2024.
This twilight zone of a season ended with players literally running into each other. Is a mediocrity purgatory about to begin under the unstable tarp of a powerless head coach and the third batch of coordinators in three years?
Joseph Santoliquito is a hall of fame, award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.