Why Sirianni was so emotional after beating the Colts

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INDIANAPOLIS — By the time Nick Sirianni finished the long, victorious walk from the visitors bench at Lucas Oil Stadium to the locker room, he couldn’t hold it together anymore.

After a teary-eyed embrace with general manager Howie Roseman, Sirianni was hit with a flood of emotion after the Eagles’ 17-16 win.

“Yeah, you know, I'm emotional because I love Frank Reich. I really do,” Sirianni said a little while later. “He's one of the best damn football coaches I've ever been around.

“Yeah, I was hoping him and I would be able to coach against each other in this game, but he is one my of biggest mentors.”

The Colts ruined that potential reunion a few weeks ago when they fired Reich following a 3-5-1 start. While Sirianni has taken the high road in interviews, he has made it very clear what he thinks about Jim Irsay’s decision to fire his mentor. He was not pleased.

It was already going to be an emotional day for Sirianni, returning to the city where he spent three seasons as an offensive coordinator, a job that vaulted him to the head coaching job in Philly. But it became personal when Reich was fired.

“Facts,” said receiver Zach Pascal, who played under Reich and Sirianni in Indy before joining the Eagles this offseason. “I think this W probably was for Frank. It was a sad day to see him get fired.”

Reich, 60, is obviously very well known in both Philadelphia and Indianapolis. Before becoming the Colts’ head coach in 2018, he helped guide the Eagles to their Super Bowl LII win in his second year as offensive coordinator under Doug Pederson. And he’s a big reason why Sirianni ended up as the head coach here after Pederson.

Pascal explained that while Reich is a good coach and a players coach, he’s also just a good person. There’s no question how well respected he is.

And that’s why Sunday meant so much to Sirianni.

“It was sweet to come here, especially with what happened in this organization the last couple weeks and get the win,” Sirianni said. “A win. We leave Indianapolis with a win.”

Of course, it wasn’t a pretty win. The Eagles had to overcome a ton of mistakes just to claw back from a 10-point deficit entering the fourth quarter. But they did it and improved to 9-1 on the season.

For the most part, Sirianni hid his emotions from his team as he prepared to go back to Indianapolis this week. But as he addressed the team in the locker room, his players fully understood the significance.

Normally, Sirianni hands out game balls. But after this one, Jalen Hurts gave one to his coach.

“It's special for him being the coach here, spent a lot of time in Indianapolis,” Hurts said. “He has a lot of memories here. Great homecoming for him, and I'm glad we were able to get a win for him. I know as he walked off the field he got a little bit emotional. I guess I didn't help when I tossed him the ball. Coach doesn't get enough credit for what he's done and what he's been for us. He does a great job. Happy he got to get this win.”

Through 11 weeks of the season, Sirianni’s Eagles have the best record in football at 9-1, tying their win total from the 2021 season.

When the Eagles hired Sirianni, it wasn’t a hire that was universally celebrated. Some wondered if he was up for the task. Some wondered if the Eagles made a mistake, especially after his disastrous opening press conference.

But things are going very well in Sirianni’s first two years. And aside from his ability as an offensive mind, his ability to connect with his players has mattered a ton. Remember when Jeffrey Lurie spoke about emotional intelligence? Sirianni has a ton of it and it’s authentic.

Sirianni might have wanted to win for Reich on Sunday. But his players wanted to win for him. They really embrace him.

“It’s cool, man,” Pascal said. “I like to see him transitioning and getting used to being the head coach and handling the team and doing his thing. He’s cool. He’s cool as hell.”

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