Eagles coach Nick Sirianni tests positive for COVID-19
If Sirianni isn't back by Sunday, passing-game coordinator Kevin Patullo would take over the game-management aspect of Sirianni’s job against the Giants.
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni tested positive for COVID-19 Wednesday and has entered the NFL’s health and safety protocols.
After the Eagles’ 27-17 win over the Washington Football Team on Tuesday night, Sirianni said he woke up in the morning “not feeling great” and tested positive later in the day. The team announced the news in a statement a few minutes before his 2:45 p.m. news conference.
The statement read: “Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has entered the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol. After feeling symptomatic, he tested positive today. Coach Sirianni will conduct his responsibilities remotely and remains hopeful to return by Sunday.”
Sirianni, who is vaccinated, noted he is quarantined in a hotel during his video conference with reporters and detailed how the coaching staff would work if he’s not able to return in time for the Eagles’ home game against the New York Giants on Sunday.
Passing-game coordinator Kevin Patullo would take over the game-management aspect of Sirianni’s job, and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen would handle offensive play-calling responsibilities.
Sirianni said he gave those added jobs to Patullo instead of assistant head coach and running backs coach Jemal Singleton because Patullo doesn’t have a position group to oversee on game days.
“Kevin helps with a lot of different aspects throughout the game,” Sirianni said. “I want there to be as little change as possible. I don’t want Jemal to have to think about that while he’s coaching a position.”
Patullo was with Sirianni in Indianapolis, coaching wide receivers for two years before spending 2020 with the title of pass-game specialist. On various occasions this season, Sirianni has credited Patullo for his role in game-planning each week.
“The reason I wanted Kevin here was because I just know how valuable he is in game planning,” Sirianni said last month. “I know how valuable he is with the wide receivers and gives us a perspective of an old wide receiver coach and an old quarterback coach. He’s in every game plan meeting. There is never a time really when I think about it when it’s just me and Shane. It’s usually me, Shane, and Kevin. So, Kevin is a major contributor into what we’re trying to do here, what we’re doing here.”
Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was also with the Colts from 2018-20 as a defensive backs coach, meaning he spent plenty of time during offseason workouts and training camp going against Patullo’s receiver groups.
“He’s super competitive where I felt like, at times, we were going to fight on the practice field,” Gannon said. “He knows how to connect with the players. He can always reach the players and his guys play hard for him and they’re always well-coached.”
Because the team is switching to virtual meetings as the omicron variant causes coronavirus cases to surge throughout the league, Sirianni said he’ll still be able to run the offensive meetings he typically does from his hotel.
“Every single offensive meeting, every quarterback meeting, every team meeting, I’ll be running those,” Sirianni said. “Just business as usual.”
It’s possible Sirianni could return before Sunday depending on how quickly his symptoms subside. The NFL updated its testing policies last week after multiple teams saw their COVID-19 lists grow significantly and left room for players and staffers to return more quickly if they’re asymptomatic.
The Eagles-Washington game was one of three contests postponed because one of the teams had an ongoing outbreak. Washington was missing nearly two dozen players when the league made the announcement Friday and was still without 16 players — including its top two quarterbacks — by kickoff.
Several NFL coaches have missed games because of COVID-19 in the last two years, including New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, and Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, who has caught the virus twice in the last two years.
The Eagles added reserve tackle Le’Raven Clark to the COVID-19 list Wednesday, making him the third player in the health and safety protocols along with fellow offensive linemen Landon Dickerson and Andre Dillard.
When asked if he’s concerned about a possible outbreak, Sirianni pointed to the team deciding to wear masks during in-person meetings last week and other precautionary measures taken to avoid significant spread.
“We’ve taken more precautions the last couple weeks,” Sirianni said. “That doesn’t mean that you’re not going to have an outbreak. I’m not going to play a hypothetical there. I feel like we’ve done the right things, and we’ll play it by ear if that does happen.”
Sirianni also said he and his staff already put in most of the game plan for the Giants earlier this week in anticipation of the quick turnaround between Tuesday night’s game and Sunday. With the Eagles at 7-7 and in the running for an NFC wild-card spot, Sunday’s game against the Giants will have significant implications for the team’s playoff hopes.
“We got a big portion of it done, which is good,” he said. “Obviously, we came in here thinking, ‘Hey, today is going to be — it’s Wednesday, so we’ve got to be caught up to where we would on Wednesday.’ I’m confident that we are.”