‘Flower Power’ actually worked for Nick Sirianni and the Eagles. Who knew? | Marcus Hayes
Watered and fertilized, the Birds balled out at practice, then dominated Detroit. We all had a good laugh at the coach’s metaphors, but the last laugh was on us.
Sirianni said last Wednesday he used a picture of a flower in a team meeting to represent the foundation of the culture he wants to nurture in his first year as head coach. He said he stressed watering and, hilariously, fertilizing — which, given the young coach’s tendency to spread it on thick, lent itself to endless odious metaphors.
After all, football and flowers don’t exactly go together.
Or do they?
The Philadelphia Petunias devoured the Detroit Lions on Sunday after the best series of practices the Eagles have had in Sirianni’s eight pregame weeks.
Everyone mocked Sirianni, from media outlets like The Inquirer to former top players, such as Tra Thomas, who was inducted into Eagles’ Hall of Fame last month.
The current players heard the noise, too. Yes, they got the joke. After the game, Jason Kelce, the team’s unquestioned leader and spokesman, gathered the fellas in the usual breakdown locker room huddle, all hands aloft, and said:
“Keep them roots growing, baby! Roots on 3! 1-2-3 ROOTS!”
Even then, several players laughed. So what.
The message was sound, even if the imagery was a little bit soft. And it worked.
Sirianni addressed the team from a place of weakness last week. Fletcher Cox, the team’s best player, aired a very public complaint about new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon after a Game 7 loss in Las Vegas dropped the Birds to 2-5 — a complaint that bordered on insubordination.
It was, clearly, effective. Sirianni echoed Cox’s complaints, and Gannon was more aggressive in Detroit.
His players played harder, too.
“It started on Wednesday,” said Dallas Goedert, whose seven catches and 72 yards were season highs. “Coach Sirianni had a great team meeting.”
“We had some of our best three practices of the year,” Goedert said. “We were flying around on Wednesday. Thursday, same thing. Then you get more into the situational — everybody was locked in, paying attention to the details.”
Maybe botanical imagery brought out the best in veterans like safety Rodney McLeod and Cox, both of whom struggled to impact the first seven games.
“Everyone had a fire about them,” said linebacker T.J. Edwards. “The leaders — Rodney, Fletch — were getting things going.”
Maybe it was simpler. Maybe, simply, Sirianni finally ran the ball, Gannon finally blitzed, and the winless Lions, with wacky first-year coach Dan Campbell and flameout former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, just stink.
Maybe too much is being made, now, of the Broad Street Begonias.
Then again, none of the seven other teams that beat the Lions sacked Goff as many times as the Eagles, who got five. None scored 44 points, held them to as few as six points, or won by as many as 38; as a matter of fact, the Lions played the Ravens and Vikings to 19-17 scores.
Even against the worst team in the league, this was, by any measure, a statement game. Besides, imagine how deep in fertilizer Sirianni would have been if the Eagles had lost.
Before Kelce’s tongue-in-cheek rallying cry, Sirianni addressed the team, too. He might have strained his rotator cuff from slapping himself on the back:
“This week’s practice was so sharp! This week’s practice had so much intensity! This week’s walk-through and meetings had so much detail!”
That sounded rehearsed. Kelce’s address sounded a bit contrived, too. Big deal.
If it takes chrysanthemum comparisons to motivate this misused and undermanned roster, so be it.
And, good for Nick the Quick.
We all had a good laugh at him, but the last laugh was on us.