Kincade & Salciunas: Weekdays 6am – 10am

Kincade & Salciunas: Weekdays 6am – 10am

Kincade & Salciunas: Weekdays 6am – 10am

The Philadelphia Eagles are reeling. They’ve lost four of their past five games. Nick Sirianni hasn’t found any answers within his own locker room.

How did a team that sat at 10-1 the morning of December 3 unravel so quickly in one month? There is no easily identifiable root cause, but the airwaves at 97.5 The Fanatic and other sectors of the Philadelphia media have revealed the indicators.

Questions About Nick Sirianni, Locker Room

John Kincade spoke on January 3 about the possibility of an early exit from the playoffs for a team that will likely earn the 5th-seed in the NFC Wild Card Round.

“This offseason, how are you going to sell it to the city of Philadelphia with this kind of collapse, which by the way is an epic, historical collapse of a 10-1 team, how are you going to sell it to the fan base that Nick Sirianni is a guy you can trust?…I have no idea what Nick can figure out. I really don’t, and I don’t have any reason to trust him right now.” -John Kincade

Adam Schefter has no reason to think the Eagles would fire Sirianni after three seasons. By the standards of most NFL organizations, the Eagles have been enormously successful during his tenure.

“You’re not firing a coach who has been to the playoffs every he’s coached that team.” -Adam Schefter

The 2023 Eagles

A.J. Brown spoke to the media on Wednesday with authenticity that hasn’t categorized the Eagles frequently enough during this losing stretch. Will it somehow turn the overwhelmingly negative sentiment coming from the NovaCare Complex?

The Eagles have a long list of questions to answer.

  • Can the locker room remain intact after issues have snowballed?
  • How does Sirianni regain order internally and externally?
  • Where is Jalen Hurts in the hierarchy of NFL quarterbacks?
  • How should the front office restructure the defense?

Many people reasonably gave the Eagles credit for opening the season after a Super Bowl appearance with a 10-1 record and downplayed the warning signs of a potential collapse. Read the signs now. The writing is on the wall, and the Eagles face more questions than answers.

  • 3 Questions About The Locker Room

    Is the locker room in great shape right now? The indicators from the beat reporters suggest otherwise.

  • "Teetering" On The Edge

    The 2023 Eagles haven’t benefitted from a strong locker room that has led them through adversity. Tim McManus spoke on 97.5 The Fanatic in December after a two-game losing streak started to raise issues.

    The Eagles entered a key road matchup against the Seattle Seahawks with a “teetering” locker room in need of a victory. They didn’t get that turning point win.

    When things are teetering, additional failure tends to maximize the problem. Where does the locker room stand now?

    James Bradberry, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Past Eagles Collapses

    Jeff McLane expanded on the sense of the locker room as a guest with Andrew Salciunas.

    “We’re not near 2020, 2015, 2012. Those were bad teams, and those were locker rooms that became bad locker rooms. I’m in there every day. I don’t sense that. I think there’s a potential that it could go that way, but this is going to be very important that the leaders in that locker room, and obviously with Nick Sirianni, that they come back this next week and put on a good performance.” -Jeff McLane

    The issues continue to snowball. The head coach hasn’t stepped up with a legitimate answer. The respected leaders of the locker room haven’t turned the tide. Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, and Brandon Graham were supposed to be pillars of the organization. Their leadership isn’t showing.

    Graham even pointed to the media as the reason the Eagles demoted Sean Desai in a panic move.

    “It tells me that one of the leaders in the locker room is allowing the outside noise and criticism to see through. I get it. Playing in Philadelphia is difficult, but that being said, there was a reason why there was criticism.” -McLane

    Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Anonymous Player Leak

    It’s tough to find an indicator of a sinking ship worse than an anonymous player pointing fingers at the coaching staff. Derrick Gunn reported frustration from one source about the predictability of the Eagles offense.

    Jeff McLane spoke on unCovering the Birds about the report.

    “Some within the Eagles have a general sense of who the source of this report was and understand the player’s frustration.” -McLane

    It’s important to consider that the intention of the anonymous player isn’t entirely clear. Could the issue have been solved behind closed doors? Maybe, but one thing is certain. When things go poorly, you find out about how well players handle adversity.

  • 5 Questions About Nick Sirianni and the Coaching Staff

    Coaches need to face adversity with confidence and composure. He hasn’t held his ground convincingly enough for a team that desperately needs it.

  • Sirianni's Core Principles

    Why is Sirianni facing such serious questions? His strengths as a coach aren’t helping the Eagles. When he took the job as head coach, he stressed connection and trust, level of competition, accountability, fundamentals, and smart football as his core principles. 

    The core principles don’t define the 2023 Eagles. The most obvious indicator that the Eagles aren’t achieving Sirianni’s vision is their constant problems holding onto the football. The fumbles have sunk the team throughout the season, and the defense hasn’t been able to force enough impactful turnovers.

    “There is this big visual of guys securing the football and the key tenants on offense of how to protect the ball and then the key tenants on defense of how to take away the ball. That’s the first thing they see when they come into team meetings…That’s a highly stressed thing for this coaching staff. When they get out on the practice field, the first thing they do is ball protection drills. It’s absolutely a core tenant of the organizational coaching philosophy, and yet it’s not happening.” –Tim McManus

    Nick Sirianni wants the Eagles to control the controllable. He speaks about a standard for performance, yet sloppy mistakes characterize the team much more than winning principles.

    Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Infrastructure of the Organization

    Jeffrey Lurie didn’t even consider moving on from Howie Roseman after a disastrous 2020 season. Instead, he let the only coach in franchise history to win a Super Bowl go. The Eagles will lean toward crediting Roseman’s roster construction as a bigger root of their success in recent seasons than the coaching staff.

    Lurie, Roseman, and the front office prioritize leadership and intangible strengths as key traits in a head coach. They don’t intend to find the next Sean McVay or Kyle Shanahan, a coach the media will laud as an offensive genius. They tried that already with Chip Kelly. Instead, they’ve succeeded with the hires of Andy Reid and Doug Pederson. The decision to hire Sirianni came from the same priorities.

    What does that say about Nick Sirianni’s value to the organization? The Eagles hired him because of his potential for strong leadership and the ability to maintain a cohesive locker room. He hasn’t presented any of those strengths while the ship is sinking in 2023.

    Howie Roseman, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Differing Sentiments Among Coaching Staff, Front Office

    Bo Wulf hasn’t shied away from reading other potentially dooming signs. He’s pointed to instances of disagreements between the front office and the coaching staff.

    The best teams in recent Eagles history have benefitted from strong rotations that keep defensive linemen fresh to maintain an effective pass rush. Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat have played disproportionately higher snap counts this season that contradict that philosophy.

    Sirianni has also shown an overreliance on Kenny Gainwell as a rotational running back. Roseman acquired D’Andre Swift during the offseason. He is a better option as the primary tailback. The head coach values Gainwell more than the front office.

    Wulf spoke after the Eagles defeated the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game about how Sirianni meshed well with the organizational philosophy to prioritize analytics in 2022, especially with an aggressive approach on fourth down.

    However, Sirianni waived the aggressive strategy and chose to punt from his own territory on a key possession late in Super Bowl LVII. He repeated the strategy at a critical turning point in the Week 13 loss against the 49ers this season.

    Do inconsistencies add up to become part of a larger problem?

    Jalen Hurts and Kenny Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Play-Calling Concerns

    Sirianni forfeited play-calling duties to Shane Steichen midseason in 2021. The decision led to success down the stretch in 2021 and in 2022.

    Brian Johnson, however, hasn’t gotten in the same rhythm as Steichen’s replacement. The offense isn’t reaching its full potential. Bob Cooney spoke on The John Kincade Show about Sirianni’s hesitancy to take back play-calling duties.

    “Why does he not have enough confidence in himself to take it over? … When you’re flawed at something, you want to try to fix it.” -Bob Cooney

    If Sirianni won’t take the responsibilities over, the Eagles will depend on Johnson. Andrew DiCecco pointed out that it’s fair to blame the first-year offensive coordinator.

    “How can you not? The offense continues to have these sporadic moments in which you start to say, ‘Okay, maybe he’s hitting his stride right now.’ Then they continue to revert back to the same inefficiencies and ineptitudes that have plagued the offense this season. When you’re not seeing any progress, it’s really difficult to sort of envision him not being in trouble.” -Andrew DiCecco

    Brian Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Similarities to the Doug Pederson Demise

    Doug Pederson infamously struggled to live up to his promise of the “new norm” in Philadelphia after he lifted the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LII. Sirianni constantly harps on a “standard” he expects from the Eagles after their appearance in Super Bowl LVII.

    The irony is too obvious to ignore. Pederson met his demise largely because of his inability to replace assistant coaches and maintain effective performance. Sirianni now faces the same problem, and the Eagles must hope things turn out differently.

    Doug Pederson and Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles

  • 3 Questions About Jalen Hurts

    The starting quarterback showed flashes of brilliance to help the team reach 10-1 to begin with. However, Hurts has hit a tough stretch of underwhelming play. While the questions aren’t an outright indictment of his future, he isn’t convincing Eagles fans that he’s playing with the type of rhythm that will lead the team back to the Super Bowl.

  • Struggles As A Runner

    The Eagles put their trust in Jalen Hurts as the franchise quarterback with a $255 million contract during the offseason. He hasn’t replicated an excellent season in 2022.

    The Philadelphia offense in 2022 had a certain level of dependence on Hurts as a runner. The threat kept the offense balanced, and they took a significant hit when Gardner Minshew stepped in for two games late in the regular season.

    Hurts has not rushed with the same ability in 2023 for a variety of reasons. The Eagles face the issue of balancing the health of their franchise quarterback and maximizing his ability as a runner.

    Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Struggles As A Passer

    Hurts still shows some of the same weaknesses that plagued held him early in his career. He still tends to panic and leave the pocket too quickly when facing free blitzers.

    Ben Solak spoke about how the habit allows opposing defensive coordinators to develop game plans that require the Philadelphia offense to make the proper adjustments.

    Hurts and the coaching staff have struggled to find those adjustments.

    Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Franchise Quarterback Contract

    Signing an expected franchise quarterback to a long-term contract forces front offices to adjust their roster construction strategy. It’s a simple reality of the modern NFL.

    “The trickle-down effect of Hurts’ contract extension and other big-money deals Roseman has given certain players has indirectly affected individual performance. Some players with expiring contracts or expanding deals might be incentivized to chase numbers at the expense of team success.” -Jeff McLane (unCovering the Birds)

    It’s up to Roseman to juggle priorities and keep everyone happy. The concern about chasing individual statistics doesn’t lend to a unified locker room.

    Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

  • 5 Questions About the Defense

    Changing the primary decision-maker hasn’t helped improve a struggling defense. The unit still isn’t playing with acceptable continuity. They also face serious personnel issues that limit their ceiling for improvement this season and their long-term future.

  • Demotion of Sean Desai

    The Eagles mishandled the decision to demote Sean Desai. Tim McManus, as a guest on The Best Show Ever, criticized the move by an organization with a reputation around the NFL for operating smoother than most of their competition.

    “I just don’t think it showed by having it revealed last second by a different source that you had made this move that you’re in command here. Own it. If you’re going to make this move, and you think this is for the betterment of the franchise, don’t give me the competitive advantage stuff. Put the priority of the messaging first and standing with your chest out first. Let people know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and you’re committed to it. I think they fumbled how they handled this, and it was bad for Desai, and I think it was bad for the look of the franchise.” -Tim McManus

    The Eagles lost out on the opportunity to hire Vic Fangio after the loss in Super Bowl LVII because of questionable moves from Jonathan Gannon. They haven’t recovered to establish enough defensive structure.

    The Eagles have no continuity on defense. The linebackers and safeties haven’t performed well in the box. The lack of playmakers in the middle of the field has become a weakness that opponents can attack and exploit.

    Brian Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Skepticism for Immediate Improvement

    Tim McManus reasonably acknowledged as a guest on The Best Show Ever the possibility of Darius Slay and Zach Cunningham returning from injury to help a reeling defense. However, he doesn’t see an immediate big-picture solution.

    “It’s tough for me to sell that (short-term improvement), honestly, especially after viewing what I viewed against Arizona when you’re getting gashed for 200+ rushing yards against at the time, a 3-win football team. Now, the strength of your defense, which was the rush defense, has suddenly become a vulnerability. You have all these other vulnerabilities. Let’s call it what it is. It’s a mess right now.” -Tim McManus

    Matt Patricia

  • Communication Issues in the Secondary

    Darius Slay, James Bradberry, and Kevin Byard have eight career Pro Bowls between them. Why does Jeff Kerr, as a guest on The John Kincade Show, have to point out the lack of communication from so many veteran players?

    “The communication issues are horrible in that secondary. There’s too many good players that don’t know their assignments or they’re having trouble talking.” -Jeff Kerr

    Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Georgia Draft Picks

    The Philadelphia fan base celebrated after Howie Roseman loaded up on five former Georgia Bulldogs in two drafts to restock the pipeline on defense.

    Three of them have fallen well short of expectations. Jordan Davis didn’t emerge as the primary nose tackle in 2022, and he hasn’t been effective down the stretch in 2023. Nakobe Dean has struggled to stay healthy and legitimized a key concern that pushed him into the third round of the draft in 2022.

    The Eagles have a clear need for rotational pass rushers. Nolan Smith hasn’t seized a golden opportunity. His rookie season has been a major disappointment.

    Two of the five picks look promising relative to expectations. Both still have plenty of room for improvement before they’re considered success stories.

    Jalen Carter has shown flashes of excellence after the Eagles selected him with the 9th-overall pick in 2023. He’ll likely win the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, but his production has dipped in the second half of the season. The Eagles have an incredible talent, but Carter still has steps to take to move forward in his NFL career.

    The Eagles invested in Kelee Ringo by sending a 2024 third-round pick for the chance to draft him in the fourth round in 2023. He failed to get on the field early in the season despite significant injuries in the secondary. He has shown potential filling in for Slay late in the season.

    Jordan Davis, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Future of the Cornerback Position

    Speaking of the secondary, the Eagles have a serious need to improve the cornerback position. Slay declined in 2023 after signing a three-year contract worth $42 million to stay in Philadelphia. The Eagles will likely count on him as their top corner at age 33 entering the 2024 season.

    James Bradberry has regressed significantly after a great season in 2022. The Eagles will have to consider releasing him during the offseason.

    Avonte Maddox has performed well overall during his six-year career in Philadelphia. However, he suffered through three separate absences in 2022, and he missed 13 games in 2023. His recurring injury issues will factor into Roseman’s evaluation of the slot corner position.

    Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles

  • 97.5 The Fanatic

    Watch The John Kincade Show on the 97.5 The Fanatic YouTube page on weekday mornings from 6am-10am.

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