The Eagles brass has finally completed its search for a new Head Coach and it ended with a surprise candidate landing the position. Nick Sirianni is the man who was chosen to right the ship and there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
The focal point of this hire was to find a coach that knows how to maximize the talent that’s currently on the roster. With that in mind, I think it’s time that we look at the players that stand to benefit most from the Eagles’ new Head Coach.
The former second-round draft pick had an unbelievable first season, almost juking his way to a rookie of the year award in the process. Sanders broke several Eagles rookie records, leading to high expectations going into year two. Miles went on record saying that he wanted to shoot for MVP last season. Obviously, he fell very short of that goal due to nagging injuries and being sparingly used by the previous offensive staff.
Sanders had a big drop-off in production, but his stat-lines were saved by a flurry of 70+ yard runs that showed just how explosive he can still be. In the receiving game, however, not so much. We saw the Penn State product go from 50 receptions to only 28 and dip from 509 receiving yards to only 197.
Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, rookie running back Johnathan Taylor was having a stunning season. Taylor stepped up in a huge way after Marlon Mack went down for the season. The rookie tallied 1,169 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on top of 299 receiving yards on 39 receptions.
If you watched the colts this season, you’ll notice that the ball was in the hands of their running backs for at least 60% of the time (45% rushing). Hines and Taylor were all over the field and moving the ball well because of the space that they had to operate. Sanders and the other backs were smothered by defenders every time the ball went their way.
If a true run-pass balance is the aim in order to take the strain off of a broken quarterback and better utilize a truly explosive rushing talent, Sirianni might be the best candidate to take it to the next level.
Dallas Goedert (and maybe Zach Ertz)
The Colts have showed a lot of love to 12 personnel sets over the last two years and shown the ability to maximize the talents of Mo Alie-Cox, Trey Burton, and Jack Doyle. The tight end trio combined for 895 receiving yards on 82 receptions and 8 touchdowns. They used a lot of the same concepts that were on show in the 2017 Eagles team. Obviously this can be attributed to Frank Reich, but Sirianni deserves credit. In an interview with Colts Media, Sirianni used the game-winning touchdown by Zach Ertz to help breakdown the impact of 12 personnel.
He specified the impact it’ll have on a defense by saying:
“it forces a bad matchup for one of the defensive backs.” He went on to say, “It’s something that Frank and I and this offense have tried to exploit the mismatches that you get when you have two skilled tight ends on the field.”
While Zach Ertz may have played his last down in Philly, the Eagles still have a scary tight end duo for the time being and even if Ertz does leave, there are other options that could keep the conveyor belt moving. Hypothetically speaking, if the Eagles find a way to keep Zach, Sirianni will be able to turn #Goedertz into the monster duo that Pederson couldn’t.
The two tight ends are chalk and cheese as Goedert operates well in open space while Zach has just been the more reliable hand and route-running subtleties.
We could see a far more productive group with Sirianni running the show in 2021. Ertz could experience a rejuvenation in his career after a down year if the Eagles give him the money he deserves. As for Goedert, as long as he can stay healthy, he could be in line for a career year.
Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins
This hiring benefits these two receivers the most out of the group. We’ve seen what Watkins can do in open space with his speed and agility, while Reagor lit up his whole college tape with home run highlights that started with him receiving the ball in space.
Both receivers are electric and could create a lot of problems for defenses next season. Reagor had a disappointing rookie year due to nagging injuries, but mostly due to the misuse of his talents in this offense.
New Head Coach, Nick Sirianni, is big on getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers when they’re within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Creating space will be a clear objective for the former Chargers WR coach, who helped facilitate a huge season from Keenan Allen back in 2017.
When it comes to this receiver group, that foundation will help his QB to release the ball quicker, avoid pressure, and push the ball into the hands of his speedsters to make positive plays.
Now there’s no way that we could leave out the biggest reason for the Sirianni hire – Carson Wentz.
It’s no secret that Wentz is coming off the worst year of his career. It’s also no secret that the play-calling didn’t help in any way. Pederson left Wentz on an island which could’ve caused friction between the two. However, despite constant digs from anonymous sources, Wentz still has the potential to be a top-tier QB and Nick Sirianni is just the guy to get him there.
Sirianni helped extend the career of Philip Rivers in Indy last season. The veteran was coming off a down year in his last season with the Chargers as the QB threw 20 interceptions with a completion percentage of 66 along with 8 fumbles. After reuniting with Frank Reich and Nick Sirianni, Rivers saw his completion percentage jump to 68% and saw his interceptions fall to only 11 and his fumbles drop to only 2.
Sirianni preached the importance of a QB protecting the ball and the ability to keep both hands on it while swinging their arms away from defenders. Wentz saw his fumbles and interceptions this season hit a career-mark as well as the number of times he was sacked.
If there’s anyone that can level with Wentz and restore his confidence then it’s the 39-year-old first-time head coach. The Eagles are bringing Indy to Philly and it comes in the younger version of Frank Reich. Sirianni will be able to coach Wentz hard while bringing out the best in him. The Eagles front office showed their commitment to the Franchise QB after firing Doug Pederson and hiring Nick but only time will tell how this will pan out.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire