INDIANAPOLIS — With time running down in the Eagles’ 17-16 win over the Colts on Sunday, Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni ripped off his visor, stood on the visitors bench at Lucas Oil Stadium and yelled into the crowd.
He worked to collect himself as he walked through the tunnel, but when he hugged Eagles general manager Howie Roseman at the locker room entrance, he welled up, wiping tears from his eyes as he went to address the team.
At the podium a short time later, he again grew emotional, explaining that the Colts’ recent firing of Frank Reich as coach was at the root of it.
“I’m emotional because I love Frank Reich. I really do,” said Sirianni, who served as Reich’s offensive coordinator in Indianapolis from 2018 to 2020. “He’s one of the best damn football coaches I’ve ever been around. I was hoping that he and I would be able to coach against each other this game. He is one of my biggest mentors.
“You don’t want to know what I think of if he should be here or not, but you guys can probably imagine what I really think. … It was sweet to come here, especially with what happened with this organization the last couple weeks, and get the win. The win. We’re leaving Indianapolis with a win!”
Reich was fired by the Colts on Nov. 7 after a 3-5-1 start to the season. He was replaced by former Colts center Jeff Saturday, now 1-1 as interim head coach. The Eagles moved to 9-1 on the season with the win.
Sirianni’s apprenticeship under Reich dates back to when he was an assistant coach for the Chargers from 2013 to 2015, when Reich was on the staff as quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator. Reich named Sirianni offensive coordinator when he got the Colts head-coaching gig in 2018.
“I think this W was probably for Frank,” said former Colts and current Eagles wide receiver Zach Pascal. “It was a sad day to see him get fired. … It was a sad day for me. But I’m glad we came out with that dub today.”
Philadelphia edge rusher Haason Reddick described Sirianni as “very emotional” during his postgame address to the team.
“I’m just happy we were able to come together, fight, get ourselves back in the game and win it for him,” Reddick said. “As a guy who played on different teams, I know how much it means to beat and get a W over a team that you either played for or coached for.”
Sirianni endured a rough start as Eagles coach in 2021, getting off to a 2-5 record while he found his footing as the organization’s lead man. The Eagles rallied to make the playoffs last season, however, and they have the best record in the NFL this year.
He credits three people for being his primary mentors: his father; Larry Kehres, his coach at Mount Union College; and Reich.
Knowing how much this game meant to him, the players presented Sirianni with the game ball in the locker room.
“He came here and changed the culture for us, and we’re out here winning like crazy,” Philadelphia running back Miles Sanders said of Sirianni. “We’ve got a good chemistry here because of him. I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach. I don’t know if he knows that, but I hope he hears it.”