The accountability is always present. That started the day Sirianni was hired last year. Sirianni gave up play-calling duties last season because he felt doing so would make him a better head coach and give the team a better chance to win. That’s been the mentality he’s brought to the organization and it’s trickled down to the leaders of the team and to the rest of the roster. Everyone seems to understand that winning is the priority, not anyone’s individual ego.
“I think it’s the way we conduct meetings,” Lane Johnson told me after the Eagles’ win over Pittsburgh. “With practice and everything that we do. With every play, whoever didn’t execute well, they put their number on the board. So that’s how we conduct practice, that’s how we conduct games. It doesn’t matter what player you are or who you are, everybody is held accountable. I think whenever that happens you see very good players make mistakes and be criticized and grow from it. That teaches the younger guys a good example. I think it’s how Nick’s done it since he’s been here.”
In team meetings, when a play is reviewed and a mistake is revealed, that player’s number will be put up on the board. Players know exactly where they stand in terms of their performance. And the rest of the team knows as well. It also isn’t rare to hear a coach speak up that a reviewed mistake was actually their fault. They’ll call themselves out during the meeting. Taking ownership of your mistakes appears to be part of the code within the Eagles, from the top to the bottom of the roster. That includes the quarterback.
“We hold him accountable,” Cox said last week, referring to Hurts. “He holds us accountable, but we hold him accountable. Even in practice we give him a hard time. If he’s doing something in practice, we’re like, ‘oh ok. We’re going now.’ That’s the thing, we hold each other accountable. In practice we know when we didn’t have a good practice. Coach doesn’t have to say anything. We are going to each other about how tomorrow needs to be better. Today was not acceptable. I’m not saying that because we’ve won six games. I’m saying that because that’s the type of team that we have.”
Now, it’s easier to have these conversations when you’re 7-0 and have been in complete control of almost every game this season. Adversity hasn’t hit this team yet, but it’s bound to. Every team faces it sooner or later. The Eagles certainly had plenty of it during their run to the Super Bowl in 2017.
“What the best thing is, we tell the truth around here and we don’t just let stuff go by the wayside,” Graham said. “Because I know it definitely hurts you in big moments when you know you’ve let somebody get away with something over time and then eventually when it’s that time in a big, key game, a guy makes the same mistake that you let slide. We don’t want that. Coach does a good job of policing everybody on the good and the bad.”
The honesty has allowed the players new to the team in 2022 to come into the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex and fit in immediately. Players are told two things: Be yourself and hold yourself to the standard that’s been set for the team. That’s it. The leaders in the locker room take care of the rest. Just as Cox did when Quinn arrived.
Sirianni found out about the interaction between Cox and Quinn on Quinn’s first day.
“How awesome is that?,” Sirianni said after Sunday’s game. “The best teams that I’ve been around practice hard.”
Record-wise, the Eagles are the best team in the NFL because of their performances in the first seven games. But it looks like what goes on during the other six days of the week in practices and meetings has played a large part in those results. We’ll see if the brutally honest approach continues to work when things get tougher. If it does, Philly could be headed to Glendale.