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There have been 24 Super Bowls played this millennium featuring 48 teams and only five teams have returned to the game the year after an appearance. Which brings us to the Philadelphia Eagles and their coach Nick Sirianni
Sirianni is a pretty good coach and he knows everyone in Philly wants to see the Eagles back in the Super Bowl this season after their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII.
So obviously that’s the prize, right?
That’s the goal for the 2023 Eagles, right?
Nick Sirianni Not Focused On Big Picture
“You know the stats of it and everything like that,” Sirianni told reporters Wednesday on the first day the Eagles gathered for training camp practices. “Let me make this first point perfectly clear, the goal right now, right this second, right now, is not to get back to the Super Bowl. That’s not our goal right now.”
“And I know everybody’s going to be, ‘That’s a crazy thing to say,’ ” Sirianni continued.
Yes. It surely seems that way.
So say something sane, coach.
“Our goal’s to get better today,” he added. “You can’t win two games unless you win one so our goal is to get better today and prep to get ready for our first game against New England. That’s it.”
OK, so Sirianni is taking a micro rather than macro view of what the 2023 season is supposed to be about. And it is apparently the message the entire Eagles organization has embraced.
Eagles Organization Following Sirianni
“The messaging that starts with coach is, ‘This is a different year,’ ” general manager Howie Roseman said. “And we got to do everything we possibly can to maximize this team, this moment. Whatever we’ve done in the past doesn’t matter, it’s what we do going forward.
“… That’s the mindset from our coaching staff to our players. It’s that none of what we’ve done in the past matters. None of what anyone else has done in the past matters. We have to start from scratch.”
That’s fair. But all that said, Sirianni has done analytical studies to uncover reasons teams perform a certain way in certain circumstances. That includes answering the question why teams do not typically return to the Super Bowl.
Eagles Analyze Why Teams Don’t Repeat
“You do want to look at why,” Sirianni said. “There’s a lot of different analytical studies you want to do about why teams win first games, why teams win Thursday night games, why teams don’t repeat success from coming back from the Super Bowl.
“You look at some of the common denominators of some teams that have struggled after winning or losing a Super Bowl. And you get answers … So we have thoughts of, ‘Hey these are things of why teamsmay take a step back after that based off of our studies.”
Sirianni said injuries and offensive decline are among the tangible reasons teams falter the year after getting to the Super Bowl.
Let us offer a couple more: Roster graduation and coaching staff changes.
The fact is teams that get to the Super Bowl often lose top caliber talent because players want more money. And some get that by leaving.
The Eagles had that happen particularly at the running back and linebacker spots.
Running Gack Corps Is Different
At running back, the Eagles let Miles Sanders move on to the Carolina Panthers after he gained 1,269 rushing yards, averaged 4.9 yards per rush and scored 11 TDs last season.
It was obviously a salary cap decision as Sanders signed a four-year deal worth $25.4 million.
The Eagles answered the loss by cobbling together a running back corps consisting of D’Andre Swift, Rashaad Penny, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott. Those four cost $5.23 million in cap space this season.
Philadelphia’s coaching staff has undergone change which is predictable. Successful teams typically suffer some brain drain when their assistants are promoted to head coaches or coordinators elsewhere.
That happened this year with the departure of both the offensive and defensive coordinator.
Eagles Defense Will Be Different
“I think it’s going really well,” Sirianni said of his new staff. “Obviously it’s not, you know, offensively it’s more simple, right? We’re running the same offense we’ve been running the last two years. It’s just a different guy that’s calling the plays.”
The only person not involved in Philly’s game planning this year compared to 2022 is former offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, who is now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.
Defense is different. Sean Desai takes over as the coordinator for Jonathan Gannon, who is now the Arizona Cardinals head coach (good luck with that).
“It’s just getting on the same page of the things I have expectations for,” Sirianni said. “… How we want some things to look and situational things.”
The Eagles have also added former Lions head coach and Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia “as an excellent resource,” Sirianni said.
So the Eagles season is off and running. Well, maybe not running.
They’re taking one step at a time and the goal for that step isn’t to return to the Super Bowl.