How Nick Sirianni's right-hand man knew he'd be a head coach


When Jeff Lurie sent a private jet to pick up Nick Sirianni a day after the Eagles announced they had hired a new head coach, Sirianni didn’t travel alone.

He had Kevin Patullo with him.

Patullo, 39, about a month younger than Sirianni, is officially the Eagles’ pass game coordinator. But speaking last week to reporters, he certainly seems like Sirianni’s right-hand man.

“That was kind of fun,” Patullo said last week. “Nick and I obviously came together on that first trip. That was neat, that was a great experience for me. And then being on the front end of a lot of it, that was another great experience.

“We were together going through a lot of the hiring process and things we wanted to get done and the culture we were thinking about setting and his ideas of what he wanted to do. And just being there for him, being a sounding board and let him take what he wanted to do and get it in the right direction.”

Patullo and Sirianni worked together for the last three years in Indianapolis. Sirianni was the offensive coordinator and Patullo was wide receivers coach and then pass game specialist. Both have been in the NFL for over a decade and just missed each other in Kansas City about 11 years ago.

But over the last three years, Patullo said the pair would talk often about how they would run things when one of them finally became a head coach. It has been rewarding for Patullo over the last few months to watch that plan become a reality.

Although, he’s not surprised Sirianni is now a head coach.

How did Patullo know he was destined for a top job?

“The first thing that stood out to me was his command for the big stage, getting in front of the offense and speaking to the team,” Patullo said. “That was something that stuck out right away. He does an unbelievable job of getting in front of a big crowd and just speaking to people and conveying the knowledge and the details of how he wants to get things done. So that was probably the first thing.

“And then his relationship with the players. It goes back to some of the guys who were the back end roster guys that were trying to get better to make the team and then big stars like T.Y. Hilton, all these other guys, the relationship he had and how he challenged them, that was something that was different. Especially being around a guy, we’re about the same age, you don’t always see that, the ability to channel different ways to reach guys. That was something that was very unique.”

In the few short months Sirianni has been in charge in Philly, we’ve already seen his commitment to connecting with players. Whether he’s wearing a Brandon Graham shirt around the NovaCare Complex or losing to Greg Ward in ping pong, Sirianni wants to connect to players and he wants those players to connect with one another.

When asked what he meant by challenging players in unique ways, Patullo pointed at one of the staples of Sirianni’s core values: Competition. Sirianni wants competition to be a part of everything they do and he’s willing to find ways to cater that approach to individual players.

“If you’re a guy who needs to be loved up a little bit more on certain things,” Patullo said, “or hey you need more explanations, you need more visual cues, you need more talking, more walkthroughs, he’s going to try to find a way to appeal to everybody and get to that personal side and get to know them and then challenge them to be competitive.“

As far as speaking to the team, just know that Sirianni is much better in those situations than he was in his introductory press conference with local media. That Zoom availability was undeniably a train wreck of nervousness but he’s gotten much better since then. And the excitable and passionate Sirianni we’ve seen more recently in those settings is a lot closer to the guy who stands in front of the team.

During that introductory press conference, Patullo was busy scheduling interviews and running around to help Sirianni take over the team so he didn’t even get to watch it. It wasn’t on his radar. When he heard it didn’t go well, he didn’t worry about it.

“I know what kind of guy he is and what he can do and what he does in front of the team,” Patullo said. “That’s the setting I see him in the most and how real he is, so it was kind of unique to say the least. But I really didn’t pay attention because I was so busy doing what I needed to get done.”

As far as his immediate responsibilities, Patullo will obviously be heavily involved in the Eagles’ pass game. He’ll spend some time working with receivers, some time working with quarterbacks. But, really, he seems like he’s here to make life a little easier for Sirianni after they came to Philly as a package deal.

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