Extra Points: Eagles Coach Sirianni Shares Bond with Predecessors
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie has always gone against the grain when it comes to choosing coaches.
Nick Sirianni is the fifth head coach he's hired since buying the franchise from Norman Braman for $180 million in 1994. None of the five - Ray Rhodes, Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, Doug Pederson and Sirianni - were ever NFL head coaches before joining the Eagles.
Rhodes, Reid and Sirianni were never head coaches on any level. Kelly had spent four seasons leading the University of Oregon from 2009-12. Pederson had a four-year stint at Calvary Baptist Academy (2005-2009) in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Sirianni, 40, is making his head coaching debut on Sunday when the Eagles travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons.
"I'm excited and my family is definitely excited," Sirianni said Friday. "I think my youngest (Miles), he doesn't know any better right now. My oldest (Jacob) is excited about it. He's got a Jalen Hurts jersey and it's been hard to get him out of that jersey."
Here's a rundown of how Rhodes, Reid, Kelly and Pederson fared in their first games with the Eagles and how their first seasons panned out.
Ray Rhodes: The Ray Rhodes era began on Sept. 5, 1995 with a 21-6 loss against Tampa Bay at Veterans Stadium. Place-kicker Gary Anderson supplied the Eagles' only points with a pair of field goals. Quarterback Randall Cunningham threw for 191 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Running back Ricky Watters made his Eagles debut. He short-armed a pass from Cunningham late in the game. When asked about the play, Watters uttered his now famous "For who? For what?" answer.
Rodney Peete eventually replaced Cunningham as the starter and led the Eagles to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. After walloping Detroit 55-37 in the first round, they headed to Vero Beach, Florida to practice for the next playoff game at Dallas. Cunningham left the team during the week to attend the birth of his first child in Las Vegas, but forgot to bring his playbook on the plane. Peete left the game with a concussion and Cunningham struggled in a 30-11 loss.
Andy Reid: Reid took over for Rhodes in 1999 and made his coaching debut on Sept. 12 of that year against Arizona at the Vet. They lost 25-24 to the Cardinals when Chris Jacke booted a 31-yard field goal with four seconds left. Pederson started at quarterback for the Eagles ahead of rookie Donovan McNabb and threw for 91 yards with two TD passes and two interceptions. Running back Duce Staley rushed for 111 yards. The winning drive was made possible when Pederson's long pass was bounced off wide receiver Brian Finneran's hands and was intercepted by Cards defensive back Kwame Lassiter. Finneran was cut after three games.
The Eagles finished 7-9 that first season. McNabb eventually started six of the final seven games. Two weeks before the season-opener, guard George Hegamin left training camp for a few hours after losing his starting job to rookie Doug Brzezinski. The next day, Reid made Hegamin push a blocking sled 100 yards as punishment, then cut him a few weeks later.
Chip Kelly: Kelly's much-anticipated debut came on Sept 9 at Washington. The Eagles stormed to a 33-7 lead and hung on for a 33-27 victory at FedEx Field. Quarterback Michael Vick threw two touchdown passes - one apiece to wide receiver DeSean Jackson and tight end Brent Celek and ran for another. Running back LeSean McCoy scored on a 34-yard run.
The Eagles went 10-6 and won the NFC East. Nick Foles took over as the starter when Vick got hurt and wound up throwing 27 TD passes against only two interceptions. They were one and done in the playoffs with a 26-24 loss to New Orleans at Lincoln Financial Field. Saints kicker Shayne Graham won the game with a 32-yard field goal as time expired. Future Eagles Darren Sproles and Malcolm Jenkins both played for the Saints that day before joining the Eagles the following season.
Doug Pederson: Pederson, the former quarterback, returned to Philly as head coach in 2016 and led the team to a 29-10 win at Cleveland in his first game on Sept. 11, 2016. Rookie quarterback Carson Wentz threw his first career TD pass to wide receiver Jordan Matthews and threw another TD to wide receiver Nelson Agholor.
The Eagles finished 7-9 under Pederson that season. Wentz threw for 3,782 yards with 16 TDs and 14 interceptions. The Eagles re-signed Foles to be Wentz's backup the following year. When Wentz tore his ACL late in the year, Foles took over and became a Philly legend by leading the team to a 41-33 victory over New England in Super Bowl LII.