Inside the mind of Nick Sirianni ahead of Super Bowl LVII


HADDONFIELD, N.J.—The appointment was for 6 a.m. Saturday, and at 5:57, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni rolled his vehicle out of the driveway here in suburban Eagleville. I got in.

It’s Super Bowl week, and I feel like the biggest story America doesn’t know is, Who is Nick Sirianni? I don’t know him well either. In my 23 minutes with him Saturday on the way to work, and then in his parking space at the Eagles’ NovaCare training complex, I tried to find out.

You probably know him now as the hyper guy on the sidelines who looks like he’s had 5 o’clock shadow since age nine. It’s interesting that 10 years ago this winter he had his career derailed by Andy Reid bypassing him for a job on Reid’s first Kansas City staff. Interesting, too, that he’s pugnacious and private and would be fine if he never was in a headline the rest of his life—very smart in this voracious market.

In brief: Sirianni’s the son of a coach, was most influenced by his small-college coach, Larry Kehres, sounds like he majored in Coachspeak at Mount Union (Ohio), and is the perfect front man for grassroots American football. If a kid from the western New York town of Jamestown (pop: 28,712) who played Division III football and coached for five growth seasons at Mount Union and Indiana University of Pennsylvania can coach a team to the Super Bowl at age 41, you should be able to make it from anywhere.

“Are you a little surprised this has happened so fast?” I asked as Sirianni pulled onto I-295 in south Jersey, headed for the office.

“I don’t think of it that way,” he said. “I just think about one day at a time. Get a little bit better each day. I’ve been obsessed with that, even going back to when I was a high school basketball player. I’ve been obsessed with just how do I get better every day? How do I out-work guys? You never know how hard anybody else is working. That was as a player, whether it was football or basketball. That’s been as a coach. I don’t think of how fast it happened.”

Smart. How can that help Sirianni beat Andy Reid in Super Bowl LVII?

“Just try to be in the moment with everything we do,” he said.

“What’s Jalen Hurts been like this week?” I asked.

“Same. Same,” he said. “Steady. Unfazed.”

Sirianni caught himself. “And I know that’s … I know that doesn’t make for great news. Even somebody asked me last night—my wife and kids were at one of our friend’s houses in town. Friends are like, ‘You’re playing in the Super Bowl! How’s it feel?’ Same. My wife’s like, ‘You can say that to the media people and the cameras in front of you. But here?’ Well, to me, hey, it’s just another opportunity for us to play for each other, just another opportunity for us to win and get better. I know that’s Jalen’s mindset and that’s how I’ve seen him all week.”

Sirianni is fine with the fact that Andy Reid lords over this Super Bowl. Reid coached the Eagles to one 18 years ago, got fired here 10 years ago, and now has his new team in its third Super Bowl in a decade, against a coach on the 2012 KC staff who Reid decided not to keep. Sirianni, receivers coach on Romeo Crennel’s staff in 2012, was bypassed for a longtime Reid aide, David Culley.

“Ton of respect for coach Reid,” said Sirianni, meaning it. “What a great coach he is. What a great person he is.”

“Even though he didn’t hire you,” I said.

“Even though he didn’t hire me. Hey, it worked out pretty well. God always has plans. As mad as you might be—mad or upset or as crushed as you might be—I mean, think about the path it really led me on. No hard feelings there. I appreciated him taking the time to spend time with me I can’t tell you how many times [GM] Howie Roseman talks about ‘Coach Reid would’ve done this.’ Or when I ask, sometimes, Hey what do you think coach Reid would do in this scenario? It tells you a lot about coach Reid.

“But like you said, he didn’t hire me,” said Sirianni, now on the Walt Whitman Bridge into the city. He laughed. Hey, it worked out pretty well.

Look at how many coaches with strong roots were schooled and/or played way below the Power Fives: Bill Belichick (Wesleyan), Kevin Stefanski (Penn), Josh McDaniels (John Carroll), Brandon Staley (Dayton), Mike McCarthy (Baker, Kansas), Matt LaFleur (Saginaw Valley), Brian Daboll (Rochester), John Harbaugh and Sean McVay (Miami of Ohio), Mike Tomlin and Sean McDermott (William & Mary), Mike McDaniel (Yale), Sean Payton (Eastern Illinois), Matt Eberflus (Toledo), Robert Saleh (Northern Michigan), Doug Pederson (Northeast Louisiana, now Louisiana-Monroe) and Sirianni, who played wide receiver on three NCAA Division III national championship teams at Mount Union.

Amazing: Seventeen current NFL head coaches got their starts between the Mid-American Conference, lower NCAA levels and the NAIA. (And it could increase depending on the Arizona and Indianapolis decisions.) There are many lessons in this, but my take, particularly re: Sirianni, is that excellent coaches on any level are excellent coaches. Sirianni found a lot of them, and soaked in a lot.

He played for his dad, the coach at Southwestern Central High in western New York, graduating in 1999. “A lot of the things I say to our guys are similar messages I heard when I was growing up,” Sirianni said. “The players that played for my dad always came back and visited him. I’d be working out in the driveway, and people would just stop by who used to play for my dad just to say hi to my dad. Guys with kids and grown men with jobs would come back just to see their high school coach. That made an impression on me.”

Sirianni said he went to Mount Union to get a degree in education. But along the way, he played for one of the most successful coaches in college history. Larry Kehres won 11 Division III national titles in 27 years—he lost eight games in his last 17 years as coach. “I ended up getting a master’s degree in coaching, a doctorate in coaching,” Sirianni said. “Coach Kehres was really good, obviously, coaching the team. But he was really good at coaching the coaches. I find myself saying things to our coaches that coach Kehres would say to us.”

“Give me an example,” I said.

“Always the details of everything, the fundamentals, playing smart football,” Sirianni said. “He’d say, ‘Don’t over-coach. Make sure there’s a coaching point, good or bad, after every play.’ He’d say, ‘It’s all about the players, putting them in positions to make plays. It doesn’t matter if you like a play or the other coaches like the play. Can the player do it?’”

After three seasons as the receivers coach at Indiana of Pennsylvania, Sirianni came back to Mount Union to interview for the offensive coordinator job. Kehres asked Sirianni what offense he’d run if he got the job. Sirianni mentioned a couple of things he learned about offense at IUP, and he clearly wasn’t saying what Kehres wanted to hear. “You don’t even know the players that are here anymore! It’s players, formations, then plays!” Kehres said.

That’s the year Sirianni got a quality-control job on Todd Haley’s staff in Kansas City, so he didn’t end up back at Mount Union. Ten years later, Sirianni was Frank Reich’s offensive coordinator in Indianapolis when Kehres came in as Sirianni’s guest for a game.

“Lemme see that call sheet,” Kehres said, looking for the play-sheet Sirianni would use for that day’s game. “Where are the plays for number 13?”

T.Y. Hilton. Sirianni pointed out a slew of plays designed for the best receiver the Colts had. And he remembered how Kehres used to show him the play sheet before games, showing the plays he had highlighted for Sirianni. Sirianni loved it, because it gave him a mental picture of what the offense would try to do to get the ball to him. When Kehres saw the plays for Hilton, he said something like: Good. Players, players, players. Remember that.

Now we were in the city, heading to the complex in south Philly. Still dark. Lots of green lights.

“Pretty cool view of the city coming in with all the green lit up,” he said.

“You hear about the Empire State Building controversy in New York?” I asked. “You guys won, and they lit it up in bright green, and Giants fans in the city went batcrap.”

“That,” he said, “would not happen in Philadelphia. It just wouldn’t.” He smiled. “But Eagles fans are everywhere.”

When we discussed the game, he emphasized playing smart, football IQ, no turnovers—because Kansas City’s a veteran team that’s played a lot of big games and understands what it takes to win them. “And staying in the moment,” he said, because of the long delays, the long halftime, the hype, all about it that isn’t a regular game.

Then he said: “I’ve never been to this game. I said I would never go till I was in it. You get opportunities to get tickets when you’re in the NFL. My brothers might say, Hey, you wanna bring Dad to the Super Bowl this year? Nope. I’m not going till I’m a part of it.”

We were backed into his parking space now, 4 degrees wind chill outside.

“How’s Jalen Hurts handled all this so well?” I asked.

“He has a relentless work ethic,” Sirianni said. “He’s gonna outwork everybody to make sure he doesn’t leave any stone unturned. That’s evident not only by the way he studies film, but by the way he lives, by the way he leads. I think he’s just a very steady person, which is an unbelievable trait to have as a quarterback when there’s ups and downs in the season, when there’s ups and downs in the game.

“I remember last year against Washington. I’m screaming at him, yelling at him. He’s like, ‘I gotcha.’ Same look on his face as if he scored a touchdown in the game. Just so unfazed by things. As a player, he’s relentless to how he’s gonna grow every day. I mean, he really is. He deserves this moment because he just thinks about how he can get better each day.

“I think this whole team has this chip on their shoulder when they get doubted. I know, 15-3 or whatever we are right now (16-3 actually), you don’t get doubted quite as much. But there’s always somebody that’s doubting you, right? Jalen for sure I know has that. But that’s a good thing, because he uses it to drive him. He’s gonna keep growing. God willing, he’s gonna reach his ceiling because of all the intangibles that he has.”

Almost time to go. A woman appeared at his window and made a trimming motion on her head.

“You trimming me up?” he said through the window, and she nodded.

“Barber,” he said to me. “I didn’t ever know I was scheduled for a haircut. She probably wants to trim my beard.”

In the parking space in front of him, offensive line guru Jeff Stoutland parked and walked past Sirianni. They exchanged waves.

“Did you know,” I said, “that exactly five years ago, I did this with Doug Pederson, and we sat in his car, right here in this parking space, and finished talking, and Jeff Stoutland walked by?”

“Is that right?” Sirianni said. He hoped he knew what that meant: Eagles 41, Patriots 33. “Hopefully that’s good karma, a good omen, or whatever they say.”

This was my fifth ride-along with a coach the week before the Super Bowl. Check out the gallery below: Doug Pederson before Super Bowl LII (win); Sean McVay before Super Bowl LIII (loss); Andy Reid before Super Bowl LIV (win); Zac Taylor before Super Bowl LVI (loss).

Covid prevented me from doing this in person prior to Super Bowl LV two years ago. Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles agreed to do it by phone while he drove to work. Let’s count that. Win.

Three wins for coaches, two losses. And my thanks to the nifty photo-capabilities of the new iPhone 14. The Sirianni photo is the best of the bunch, and even my poor photography couldn’t mess this one up.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft CB Rankings: Devon Witherspoon highlights loaded draft class


The 2023 NFL Draft is growing nearer, with just weeks remaining until teams make selections that could alter the future of their franchise forever.

A solid secondary is crucial to any team’s defensive prowess, and for the teams looking to tighten up in coverage, this year’s draft is the one to do so.

The 2023 NFL Draft cornerback class is an incredibly deep one, but which corner will be first off the board? Chris Simms unveiled his 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback rankings this week on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast, posting Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon at the top of his list of corners in this year’s crop.

But trailing Witherspoon very closely are four other potential NFL superstars, with Simms ranking Michigan’s DJ Turner at No. 2, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez at No. 3, Maryland’s Deonte Banks at No. 4 and Georgia’s Kelee Ringo at No. 5.

The 2023 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 27, and end on Saturday, April 29. The first round will take place on Thursday with rounds two and three airing on Friday and rounds four through seven on Saturday. Click here for Simms’ quarterback rankings,and here for his list of top wide receivers.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Simms’ Top Five CB prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft

Tier One

1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

2. DJ Turner, Michigan

3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

Tier Two

4. Deonte Banks, Maryland

Tier Three

5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

RELATED: 2023 NFL Draft order: Complete list of every pick from Round 1 through Round 7

Simms Breaks Down 2023 Draft CB Rankings

The following are highlights from Simms’ CB draft rankings. For Simms’ in-depth analysis, read below for a breakdown on each prospect and be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

No. 1: Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

What Simms said: “This guy is must-see TV. He’s up there with one of the most twitchy, sudden people I’ve ever seen in my life to the point where when he takes off, you’re like, ‘Wait, is that real? Did he really get to full speed in half a step?’ … Bump or off, both are phenomenol —  it’s rare to have that. He’s got very good play strength for a guy that’s 5’11” and a half at 181 lbs. He doesn’t know that, he thinks he’s 220 … It’s efficient and easy. He’s sudden and can see the ability to accelerate whether it’s downhill or sticking the foot in the ground and changing direction. As compared to my No. 2 and No. 3 guy, he might be a hair tighter in his hips, but his twitchiness and explosion and acceleration … you just start to go, ‘What does this guy not have, besides the fact that he’s not 6’2” or over 200 lbs.’ He’s phenomenol.”

No. 2: DJ Turner, Michigan

What Simms said: “To me, (DJ Turner is) the most technically sound corner in the draft. There’s nobody better at technique. Like Witherspoon, the ability to mirror receivers at the line of scrimmage, the quick feet, it’s phenomenol. His hips are better than Witherspoon … His ability to flip those hips, turn and break on the ball, it’s right up there. It’s actually more smooth hip-wise than it is for Devon Witherspoon … What more can you say about the guy? Start-stop ability, amazing. Make-up speed, amazing. Other than Witherspoon, I think he’s put in the second-most tough spots out of anybody I’ve watched in this. He plays man-to-man, in your face a ton against big-time receivers. He’s awesome defending double moves. He could be the best nickel or outside guy, and he’s also the fastest guy in the draft. He’s got it all.”

No. 3: Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

What Simms said: “There’s not much to pick apart here … He’s got a little more size and meat on his bones. The Tee Higgins of the world, the bigger receivers of the world, they’re gonna have a harder time pushing him around and doing that stuff. He’s got incredible ball skills … He looks prototype. He looks Darrelle Revis, Champ Bailey-ish in his uniform …  He just wasn’t as edgy as the other guys … He’s gonna match up better with DeAndre Hopkins than the other two. But I don’t know if he’ll match up better with Jaylen Waddle or Ja’Marr Chase than the other two … But his technique is real. He’s a top-20 pick. You talk size, technique and straight speed, of course this guy is one of the top corners in the draft.” 

No. 4: Deonte Banks, Maryland

What Simms said: “He has more measurables like Gonzalez. 6 foot, 197 lbs., there’s a thickness to him and a power and strength element that certainly jumps out. Let alone, speed is Real Deal Holyfield … man-to-man, great legs, runs easy … He’s comfortable in his speed. He’s never panicked. He’s comfortable in going, ‘You have a step on me? That’s fine, I’m good,’ … But he’s also incredible, like Witherspoon and Turner, at getting on top of people when they try to run a go-route. No one can ever really get around him for the most part … He’s sticky as hell, he’s got very good feet, but he doesn’t know how to use his hands at all yet. So he’s not really that great at jamming people at the line of scrimmage, but he’s never not there … I thought his ability to play the ball and create PBUs in those 50/50 situations where the quarterback tries to throw the ball back shoulder and all that, he’s got a great feel and vision to be able to cover and see the throw at the same time that I was very impressed with.”

No. 5: Kelee Ringo, Georgia

What Simms said: “When you turn on the film, you go, ‘What? This guy’s a corner, he’s not a safety?’ Because he has a prototype safety vibe … Against the bigger, straight-liner guys, nobody’s gonna push this dude around. That’s certainly not going to be an issue, that along with the straight speed. Hey, the change of direction stuff is not beautiful. He’s a little heavy-footed because he’s a bigger guy … but it’s not bad … When he opens up, he can really go; obviously with a 4.36 second 40 time … He’s very smooth as far as an athlete overall.” 

For more preview content of the 2023 NFL Draft, stay tuned to Chris Simms UnbuttonedProFootballTalk and NBC Sports EDGE for all the latest updates, player analysis and mock drafts.

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings: The top QBs, WRs, RBs, and more ahead of draft weekend


The 2023 NFL Draft takes place on Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29 in Kansas City, Missouri. Click here for the full first-round draft order to find out when your team is picking.

Ahead of this year’s draft, Chris Simms has already started analyzing the top prospects by position on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast. So far, Simms has revealed his highly anticipated list of the top 5 quarterback prospects and wide receivers. See below to find out who made the top 5 names for each position and be sure to check back for updates!

Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL Draft as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL, featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown, and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: When is the 2023 NFL Draft? Date, start time, location, Round 1 order

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft Position Rankings:

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft QB Rankings:

  1. C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
  2. Bryce Young, Alabama
  3. Hendon Hooker, Tennessee
  4. Anthony Richardson, Florida
  5. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA and Will Levis, Kentucky

Chris Simms’ 2023 NFL Draft WR Rankings:

  1. Zay Flowers, Boston College
  2. Jaxon Smith-Njibga, Ohio State
  3. Quentin Jonston, TCU
  4. Michael Wilson, Stanford
  5. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

Chris Simms 2023 NFL Draft Cornerback Rankings

  1. Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
  2. DJ Turner, Michigan
  3. Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
  4. Deonte Banks, Maryland
  5. Kelee Ringo, Georgia

How can I watch the 2023 NFL Draft live?

ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network will air all seven rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.

What time does the NFL Draft start?

The first round of the 2023 NFL Draft will get underway on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. Rounds two and three will commence Friday at 7 p.m. ET, with Saturday’s final rounds at 12 p.m.

Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2023 NFL Season and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!