FIERRO: New Eagles coach Nick Sirianni must fix a lot more than franchise QB Carson Wentz
If the main priority for new Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni is to “fix” franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, he can’t lose sight of the other objective of fixing all the other things that have gone haywire within the franchise.
There’s a laundry list of problems that have led the Eagles down the road to 4-11-1. Wentz merely is at the top of it and is affected by almost all the things listed below him.
At age 39, Sirianni must restore discipline to a team that lost it completely during the coronavirus pandemic, probably because the staff was forced to use a more hands-off approach for safety reasons.
This likely was because the players went without the structure of being in the building every day and being forced to answer tough questions in actual meeting rooms instead of virtual ones following a training camp that featured a significantly reduced workload and virtually no live, tackling-to-the-ground contact.
With former coach Doug Pederson cracking the whip less than ever, they clearly lost their way. They dropped 20 passes (13th most in the NFL), ran wrong routes, committed mostly mindless penalties (fifth most), blew coverages, fumbled a league-high 31 times and generally made horrible decisions on kickoff returns, leading to them being ranked 20th.
Coaching will be almost entirely new: All of these things must be accomplished with an almost entirely new coaching staff that likely will include a seventh receivers coach in as many years working with an already young group that is likely to get younger after this year’s NFL Draft.
And, of course, a new defensive coordinator charged with developing linebackers and getting more from an underachieving secondary, starting with the grossly overpaid Darius Slay.
After initially blocking special teams coordinator Dave Fipp, a brilliant man they should have interviewed for the head-coaching job, from interviewing with other teams, the Eagles changed their minds and are allowing him to walk too.
So the new special teams coordinator will have to deal with fading Jake Elliott without the benefit of even having another kicker in camp to push him because general manager Howie Roseman believes two of 90 roster spots to determine the man who usually leads the team in scoring is not the way to go.
Must stay healthy: On the flip side, the Eagles will have a decent chance to rebound in 2021 if they can stay healthier.
Their offensive line should be more than just good with right tackle Lane Johnson and All-Pro right guard Brandon Brooks returning along with left tackle Andre Dillard, who has hastily been written off by many as a bust but will eventually prove to be the opposite.
They have a top running back in Miles Sanders and an ascending force in tight end Dallas Goedert, whose production could rival that of teammate Zach Ertz if Ertz is traded, as expected.
Speedy wide receiver Jalen Reagor will not be a bust, either. Guaranteed.
So Sirianni and the quarterback he chooses (or is chosen for him) should reasonably expect to have more weapons at their disposal than Pederson ever did in 2020.
Yet getting them all thinking and moving in the right direction will be complicated, especially for a 39-year-old coming in from the outside who will have to play the bad cop to Pederson’s good for this team to turn it around.
Former assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley was passed over again, despite serious internal support. That led him to seek and find the same position with the Detroit Lions.
Not much of a grace period: Sirianni is not going to have much of a grace period when it comes to convincing them he is the best man for the job in a season when the Eagles won’t have their usual ability to pursue free agents because of their poor salary cap health, which is in critical condition and will get worse before it gets better.
Which means another 4-11-1 season or something similar can be lurking right around the corner — followed by a bunch of key players wanting or having already checked out.
Realistically, much more can go wrong than right for Sirianni, who may not fully grasp or agree with that theory now but will after his first non-virtual press conference, with bullets and arrows flying all over the place.
Can’t wait for a return to those days.