Regardless of how ugly things might look, Nick Sirianni sees his team like a flower.
The Eagles coach pulled out a distinct analogy Wednesday during a morning meeting: The team is a flower, and the players need to keep bringing water and fertilizer if they want it to grow.
“This is what I said to the team today: I said, ‘The results aren’t there right now, but what’s going on here is that there’s growth under the soil,’” Sirianni said. “I put a picture of a flower up, and it’s coming through the ground, and the roots are growing out. The roots are continuing to grow out.”
At 2-5, the Eagles will need to sprout quickly to keep the season afloat. They’ve lost five of their last six games and are coming off an embarrassing 33-22 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders that wasn’t as close as the score suggested.
There have been several occasions this season when Sirianni and his young coaching staff have shown possible growing pains. The offensive and defensive schemes haven’t gotten the most out of the players to this point, and Sirianni’s game management has been uneven.
Sunday’s road game against the winless Detroit Lions could determine whether the year is salvageable. The Eagles still have a handful of beatable opponents in the second half of their schedule, but things could spiral before then if the group can’t correct course quickly.
Obviously the team’s record isn’t what Sirianni and the team expected, but he wants his players focusing on the process through the lens of botany.
“Everybody wants to see results. Shoot, nobody wants to see results more than us, right? We want to see results, too,” Sirianni said. “But it’s really important that the foundation is being built and that the roots are growing out. And the only way the roots grow out every single day and they grow stronger and they grow better is if we all water, we all fertilize, we all do our part, each individual, each individual coach, each individual player, everybody in the building, that we do our part to water to make sure that, when it does pop out, it really pops out and it grows.”
This isn’t the first unorthodox teaching method Sirianni has employed since taking over as the Eagles’ coach, but it is the first one of note since the losses started piling up. He showed videos of Kobe Bryant, Kobayashi, and Michael Jordan during training camp and said he played clips of Allen Iverson’s crossover to his receivers.
“I’m always thinking of different messages to give to the team,” Sirianni said. “Either messages that I think really fit to the situation that I’ve gotten before in a situation from another head coach or from my dad or whatever. So that was my message today because we are going through tough times, and everybody wants to see results.
“But just keep doing what we’re doing. Keep watering, and look at yourself first and know are you watering and are you fertilizing every day? So, when it’s time to pop, it will pop.”
Sirianni’s flower analogy didn’t land with some frustrated fans, but the Eagles players who spoke Wednesday didn’t voice objections to Sirianni’s message.
“We had a very productive team meeting today,” Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said. “We’re right there. It’s all self-inflicted things that have stopped us and really we have stopped ourselves in a lot of these situations.”
Eagles veteran center Jason Kelce said his confidence hasn’t wavered in the coaching staff or the players amid the rough start. As far as Sirianni’s “doubling down,” Kelce said it would be alarming if the coach wasn’t trying to maintain emphasis on growth.
“That’s what every coach says,” Kelce said. “You don’t come in and go ‘Oh, well, guys this week, we’re not going to try to get better. We’re not going to focus on our mistakes. We’re not going to try to improve on what we did last week.’ You don’t do that. The doubling down is just, we know that this is what works. We know that’s how we’re going to be successful, is by improving all these things and continuing to iron out these mistakes.”