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Have the Eagles Set Up Nick Sirianni To Fail?

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PHILADELPHIA – The worst part of Jalen Hurts’ answer is that it wasn’t an answer.

The Eagles quarterback was given an opportunity to strike it 300 yards dead center down the middle of the fairway after the team’s recent minicamp when he was tossed a softball on Nick Sirianni’s shift away from offensive leader to full-blown CEO coach.

“Um,” Hurts said before considering the question during a lengthy, somewhat awkward pause. “I mean, that’s a great question, I don’t know that I know the answer to it.”

For a 25-year-old on-field leader with 56 career NFL starts, including a Super Bowl under his belt, answering that should have been the equivalent of a bunny in the lane for an NBA 7-footer.

Something like ‘Nick’s a professional and he understands what needs to be done.’ or how about ‘a selfless act designed to make us better as a group?’

That’s kid stuff but all Hurts managed to the follow-up was:

“I think he’s just been great in um….(another long pause)…the messages he’s delivering to the team,” Hurts sad. “He’s trying to be very intentional with what he’s saying…yeah.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the new Eagles coaching setup from their most important player after a stilted offensive spring where Hurts described the difficulty in learning another new offense by ballparking the changes at a 95 percent level.

Predictably in a football-passionate city, when you hand anyone a baton without clear directions to the finish line, they break off into dozens of different directions and Philly sports talk radio was running amuck toward a disconnect between quarterback and head coach.

Ironically, Hurts’ empty words obfuscated the more important ones coming for Sirianni himself who confirmed he’s untethered himself from the Eagles’ $255 million franchise quarterback.

“I’m not with him every second of every day like I have been in the past,” Sirianni admitted. “… But I know this: When I’m not in there, every single second of every single day, that means I’m around everybody else because my relationship with Jalen is highly important, but my relationship with Milton Williams is highly important, my relationship with [Defensive Line Coach] Clint Hurtt is highly important, my relationship with [GM] Howie [Roseman] is highly important.

“And that’s what you get when you’re not so zeroed in of being with Jalen and the quarterbacks and the offense every single time of every single day.”

The idea that any relationship in the modern NFL is more important than the one between an offensive-tilted head coach and his quarterback is folly.

So the question is how did we get here?

Like any good conspiracy theory, it starts at the top.

By all accounts, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie did not order Sirianni to back off his offense or move on from former offensive coordinator Brian Johnson or quarterbacks coach Alex Tanney.

That said, Sirianni is politically savvy enough to understand that entering his exit meeting with Lurie with a plan of status quo after last season’s collapse would have been the equivalent of walking the plank.

Whether the Eagles’ brass knows it or not they’ve set up Sirianni to fail by hinting change was a prerequisite for returning. 

And Sirianni’s absence from the offense while remaining as the de facto CEO is the X’s and O’s equivalent of setting Howie Roseman adrift to the business side of the NovaCare Complex during Chip Kelly’s disastrous run as the Grand Poobah of personnel.

Like Roseman during his exile, Sirianni is around and that provides the coach an opportunity to emerge down the road with fully restored power, an end-game that would sacrifice 12 months to the idea that change for change’s sake was somehow a cogent argument.

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