Nick Sirianni Clarifies Shared Play Calling Duties, Explains Backup Coaching Plan for Sunday

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday afternoon, the Eagles placed head coach Nick Sirianni and reserve lineman Le’Raven Clark in COVID protocol. That’s what kept Landon Dickerson and Andre Dillard out of Tuesday’s win against Washington, though the Eagles have had a relatively clean year in avoiding the ‘Rona and putting healthy squads on the field.

We hope this ends with Sirianni and Clark, lest a COVID outbreak screw up Sunday’s New York game the same way it screwed up this past game. Could you imagine? The Eagles have to wait 48 hours to play Washington, only to have a bunch of guys go on the COVID list after the game. Hopefully it doesn’t reach that point.

“Wasn’t feeling great (Wednesday) morning when I woke up and got tested and obviously, we are where we are right now,” said Sirianni at his day-after press conference (which doubled as his midweek press conference). “I’m feeling okay, I’m feeling a little bit better now, which is good. The rest of the week, I’ll be in every meeting, obviously, virtually as if – every single meeting, every quarterback meeting, every offensive meeting, every team meeting, I’ll be running those. Just business as usual.”

Business as usual, but if Sirianni isn’t cleared by Sunday, he explained that passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo will handle the in-game coaching decisions while offensive coordinator Shane Steichen calls the plays.

Sirianni explained that Patullo is handed this role because he doesn’t have a position to coach, noting that he helps “with a lot of different aspects throughout the game.” Running backs coach Jemal Singleton, who doubles as assistant head coach, will help Patullo while handling the ball carriers. Patullo is already in communication on decisions involving down and distance, the coin toss, etc.

But what about practice?

“Well, practice runs itself really to be 100% honest with you,” Sirianni explained. “You blow the horn, go period to period. I’m not a big talker, to be honest with you. After, I talk to them a lot in team meetings. I talk to our guys a lot in team meetings. Breakdowns normally go, ‘Hey’ – I may say one thing, but normally I’m like, ‘Hey, Lane, break us down.’ So, players will break us down as normal. Business as usual.”

Sirianni also noted that Patullo has a good relationship with defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, so he’s an ideal choice to link together communication if the head coach can’t be on the sideline at Lincoln Financial Field. There was also clarification on Shane Steichen’s role in play calling, which is more collaborative than perhaps we had thought:

(We’re not) alternating it, we’re just calling it together. Shane is the one calling (the play) in to the quarterback. We’re talking about the series of plays before each go around. It’s like, ‘Hey, we’re going to run this, this, this, this, and this on this one,’ and we know the flow of what we’re going to do. Shane calls it in, but we discuss what that flow will be before each one, and then Shane rolls with that series of five plays and then I’ll say — I mean, it can be different each series I guess is what I’m saying.

Sometimes Shane is going to roll with those five or six players that we talked about, and sometimes Shane is a going to call it in the order we talked about, and then I’m going to tell him, ‘No, I want this here.’

So, we’re doing everything together. We talk about the third downs beforehand, and that’s kind of cemented in before the drive starts. ‘Hey, this our next third and two to three, this is our next four to six,’ et cetera, next red zone call, each section of the red zone. Next time we’re going to do — whatever it is. So, we’re just calling it together based off the collaboration, and like I said, I think he’s done a great job.

That’s a quote we should bookmark and save. Why? Because we had the stupid “Frank Reich and John DeFilippo” narrative from people who thought Doug Pederson sucked and wasn’t the reason for the 2017 success. Some fans thought it was really the other two guys running the show and making things jell despite Doug calling the plays, but we didn’t have any true empirical evidence to prove or disprove that.

So this quote goes a long way in showing how the play-calling duties are shared between Sirianni and Steichen.

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