The Eagles chose the 39-year-old Sirianni, who just completed his third season as the offensive coordinator with the Colts, after interviewing at least nine other candidates and then narrowing their list to a group of finalists also believed to include New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Sirianni also had coaching stints on the staffs of the Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego and Los Angeles Chargers. In Indianapolis, he worked for Coach Frank Reich and had three different starting quarterbacks in three seasons: Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett and Philip Rivers. Luck retired abruptly just before the 2019 season. Rivers announced his retirement Wednesday.
The Colts reached the playoffs in two of those three seasons. They were eliminated by the Buffalo Bills in the opening round of this postseason.
Lurie said after the ouster of Pederson that Pederson did not necessarily deserve to be fired but the two differed about the best way for the organization to move forward. Lurie said he felt the team needs to get younger and sacrifice short-term gain for a roster transformation that will lead to lasting success.
Sirianni inherits a quarterback quandary. Pederson benched Carson Wentz, the former No. 2 overall selection in the NFL draft who signed a four-year, $128 million contact extension with the Eagles in 2019, late in the season in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts.
There has been some speculation about the possibility of Wentz being traded, perhaps to Indianapolis in a move that would reunite him with Reich, a former offensive coordinator for the Eagles. But trading Wentz would create a sizable dent in their salary cap for the Eagles, and many within the sport believe that Wentz will stay put in Philadelphia.
Pederson also sparked a tanking controversy in the regular season finale when he sat down Hurts late in a close game and went with third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld, with Wentz on the game-day inactive list. The Eagles ended up three spots higher in the NFL draft order, with the sixth overall pick instead of ninth, than they would have been with a loss. Their loss to the Washington Football Team clinched the NFC East title for Washington. The New York Giants would have won the division if Washington had lost that game.
The Eagles’ approach to the game was criticized sharply by Giants Coach Joe Judge and others in and around the league. Some Eagles players reportedly were displeased. Pederson said he’d been playing to win but he felt that Sudfeld deserved a chance to play. Lurie expressed support for that sentiment and said the issue had nothing to do with Pederson’s firing.
Lurie also spoke after Pederson’s dismissal about the need to prioritize having a formidable offense to win consistently in the NFL.
The Eagles reportedly were rebuffed by Lincoln Riley, the respected head coach at the University of Oklahoma. In addition to Sirianni and McDaniels, they interviewed offensive coordinators Joe Brady of the Carolina Panthers, Arthur Smith of the Tennessee Titans and Kellen Moore of the Dallas Cowboys; defensive coordinators Robert Saleh of the San Francisco 49ers, Todd Bowles of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dennis Allen of the New Orleans Saints; Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo; and their own running backs coach, Duce Staley.
Saleh was hired as head coach of the New York Jets and Smith was hired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
The Eagles’ decision leaves only one NFL team, the Houston Texans, with a head coaching vacancy.