An Eagles fan tossed flowers to coach Nick Sirianni after the close loss Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. It could have been a congratulatory moment, except in light of the defeat, it mocked the metaphor Sirianni had mentioned for his team. In a similar way, the Eagles’ performance — they were able to score more consistently against the Chargers yet were woefully unable to defend every lead they earned — seemed to mock Sirianni’s schemes for victory.

Still, Sirianni’s plans might be going better than those of Ben Simmons to force the hand of the 76ers into a trade. Somehow, perhaps by his making the Sixers think constantly of every attribute of his that they have to compensate for as a team, they are playing better than ever, overcoming adversity and absences night after night to win.

In sports, as in so many things, what’s plotted out isn’t always how it turns out. Check out the various ways that’s so for the various players below.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

Is Nick Sirianni too slick with his offensive schemes for his own good? Does he need to focus on a stronger defense? Tell us your thoughts: sports.daily@inquirer.com

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Early Birds

The Eagles lost to the Chargers, 27-24, and were simply unable to stop the passing attack of Justin Herbert late in the game. He’s the latest good-to-great quarterback facing the Eagles to lick his lips and proceed to pick them apart. That’s something Jonathan Gannon must fix — even if Sirianni is putting it on himself.

On offense, the Eagles at times looked pretty good even if they couldn’t quite keep up with the Chargers. Sirianni called for a run-heavy game plan for a second straight week. Jalen Hurts was effective with his scrambling — at one point somersaulting over a defender to pick up a first down. And while there were the usual errant throws, he also kept hitting the target with DeVonta Smith in what was an emotional week for both players as they processed the arrest of former Alabama teammate Henry Ruggs.

Hurts at times played like the hero the Eagles needed, but it’s just not enough to win in this era of football when more arm strength and mastery of the game are required of elite quarterbacks.

Off the Dribble

In just his second year as 76ers coach, Doc Rivers is a relative newcomer in Philly. But the Sixers’ 114-105 win over the Chicago Bulls provided a reminder that he’s been around the block a few times. Rivers, who played in the NBA for 13 seasons and also coached the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, and Los Angeles Clippers, hit the 1,000-win mark in his 22nd year of coaching.

When the buzzer sounded in Chicago, Rivers, a native of Maywood, Ill., beamed as he walked around the United Center and received a nice Gatorade shower from his players when he entered the locker room. That moment in Rivers’ hometown almost never happened. He was reluctant to become a coach, trying his hand at broadcasting after retirement and even turning down his first coaching offer. But after being prodded by Pat Riley, Mike Fratello, and so many more, Rivers finally made the jump. The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey tells the story of Rivers’ foray into coaching.

Extra Innings

The Phillies’ offseason is more than a month old now, but the real start of baseball’s winter activity gets a jump start this week with the general managers meetings in Carlsbad, Calif. The Inquirer’s Scott Lauber and Matt Breen will be there to cover all of the Phillies news and chatter. But before things get started, check out their Phillies offseason primer, which includes the team’s biggest needs, free-agent targets and trade candidates. Make sure to follow Lauber and Breen on Twitter for all the news, rumors, and observations from the meetings this week.

  • Improving the roster begins with upgrading the minor leagues. New farm director Preston Mattingly has a vision for how to unify the Phillies’ system.

  • Will top prospect Bryson Stott be a major-league shortstop? The Phillies believe he will.

On the Fly

Just like that, the Flyers are 10 games into their 2021-22 season.

How have they fared? Quite well, Sam Carchidi writes, especially given that key offseason acquisition Ryan Ellis has missed the last seven games and second-line center Kevin Hayes has yet to appear in a game this year after abdominal surgery.

The biggest turnaround has been the defense, as through 10 games, the Flyers are surrendering only 2.40 goals per game — more than a goal improvement on last year’s number (3.52).

Next: The Flyers return home Wednesday to host the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7:30 (NBCSP) on Military Appreciation Night at the Wells Fargo Center. The game marks the earliest that Hayes is eligible to return from long-term injured reserve.

Fleet Street

Carli Lloyd’s professional soccer career has ended, but not with the storybook finish of a championship, though Gotham FC did well to battle into the NWSL playoffs. A skillful forward, Mallory Pugh, was the only player to score to help put the Chicago Red Stars into the next round of the playoffs.

The Union, meanwhile, are set to take on the MLS playoffs from the spot of the No. 2 seed, thanks to a hard-fought 1-1 draw against NYCFC.

Worth a look