Eagles Coach Nick Sirianni has brought a swagger to Philadelphia and has his team a win away from the Super Bowl. Chris Szagola/Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA – Coach Nick Sirianni stared directly into the camera and started nodding his head. The Eagles had just taken a 14-0 lead over the Giants in the divisional round and looked like they were well on their way to the NFC Championship game.

And Sirianni, who was wordlessly conveying to a national television audience “I told you so” with his exaggerated tough-guy facial expression, was feeling good.

“It was like right in my face,” Sirianni said of the camera earlier this week. “I was juiced. We were up a couple scores. It (the camera) just was like right there. Like, I don’t know. That was the first thing that came to my mind. I guess that’s just who I am.”

It’s not just who Sirianni is. It’s who the Eagles are. Rewind to about 30 minutes earlier, when the captains of the two teams went out for the pregame coin toss. The handshake is usually a quick and quiet one, with perhaps the captains of each team exchanging a few pleasantries. Well, not for edge rusher Brandon Graham. Microphones picked up Graham trash-talking the Giants captains – Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and Dexter Lawrence, who didn’t respond.

When the game was over, Graham quickly made a point to tell Barkley and Jones he had been right.

Yes, the Eagles are confident. They might even be cocky. And in some ways that’s a reflection of their coach, who has been angering opponents for as long as he can remember.


“My brother married a girl from our rival high school,” Sirianni said. “And (he’ll) go to an event (there now) and be like, ‘You know, the people there still don’t like you from all the things that you did when you were playing against them.’ ”

But Sirianni, who was grinning as he told the story, doesn’t seem to mind that he angers just about everyone he competes against.

“All I care about is our team,” Sirianni said. “And I’m not really concerned about anything else that anybody thinks except for our team and trying to help those guys to be in position to make plays and make them the best football players they can possibly be.”

The Eagles proved against the Giants what they have been proving all year. They’re a very good football team.

They’ll try to prove it again Sunday, in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line.

But while their brash confidence comes out on game day, it’s rooted in a decidedly less sexy principle that Sirianni has been pushing (relentlessly) since the day he took over as head coach two years ago.


Treating every practice, every game, every moment exactly the same.

Early in his news conference on Thursday, Sirianni was asked three straight times some variation of the same question: How is your approach different this week as you prepare for the most important game you’ve ever coached in?

By the final time he was asked, you could almost pick up a twinge of disappointment in Sirianni’s voice.

“No,” he said, discarding the notion that his first conference championship game in the NFL was any more important than the previous games that got the Eagles here. “I think what you would know about me and what our constant message always is: Our biggest game is the next game.”

It was drilled into Sirianni, the son of a high school football and track coach, for as long as he can remember. The idea that he would treat it any other way seemed to almost offend him.

“If you treat one game bigger than what you treat others, do the other games not matter?” he said, trying to drive home the point that the Eagles wouldn’t be in this position if they hadn’t treated Week 8 with the same attention to detail that they would treat the Super Bowl. “When you treat them all the same and you go through the same preparation each game, then you don’t ride the roller coaster and the wave of the season.”


It’s a cliché, of course: take it one moment as a time. Be where your feet are. Stay in the moment.

But no one is rolling their eyes in the Eagles locker room.

“It’s so important,” defensive tackle Linval Joseph told NJ Advance Media this week. “That’s life. Every day you want to be better. It’s better or worse, you can never be the same. So every day you get up you try to be better than you were yesterday. And the mentality, chip away, keep climbing … we talk about it, we’re doing it every day, and the proof is in the pudding.”

By focusing on getting better each day, the Eagles have done just that, and put themselves in a position to win a championship. And ultimately it’s one of the biggest reasons behind their confidence.

Veteran Fletcher Cox could see this team was different back in the regular season, when they picked up a key win against a prominent opponent (he didn’t name the opponent) and he watched the team after the game.

“It was a big win for us and we all got in the locker room and nobody was acting like we had won a Super Bowl or done anything big,” Cox said. “It was all business. Nobody was celebrating, (or) jumping around because we just beat a team. Everybody was, like, ‘All right, we’ve got another challenge next week. Let’s see what that challenge holds up to.’ ”

The Eagles, of course, have several veterans who won the Super Bowl five years ago. But they also have several young rising stars who are experiencing this kind of playoff pressure for the first time and the tone set by Sirianni helps them, too.

And while talking about staying in the moment isn’t as exciting as the Eagles’ trash-talking swagger, Sirianni’s message to stay in the moment is a huge reason they’ve been able to harness their talent and also one reason why we see Sirianni mugging at the camera or hear Graham giving the Giants captains the business before kickoff.

“I wasn’t happy about that,” center Jason Kelce said of Graham trash-talking Lawrence pregame. “You talk (expletive) to the tackle. I’ll handle this guy. I don’t need him more revved up than he already is. (But) even when he’s talking trash, he’s helping guys get up. It’s who he is. It helps him get going. It’s part of his process to be the monster he’s been for such a long time here. … He backs it up, too. You have to. If you’re going to be that guy, you have to back it up or guys aren’t going to like it.”

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