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Eagles must decide fate of coach Nick Sirianni, rest of his staff following epic collapse

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Nick Sirianni is the kind of coach that would make a pretty good Eagles fan.

He talked smack to Colts fans after a road win last season in Indianapolis. He taunted Chiefs fans — “See ya! — after the Eagles beat the Super Bowl champs this season. And don’t forget the time the cocky coach stared into a TV camera and bobbed his head after a touchdown in a playoff game.

Kind of funny when the Eagles are winning.

When they’re not?

Well, it’s makes it easy for Eagles fans to turn on Sirianni for acting the fool. It makes it easy for the rest of the NFL fan base to troll him on social media, too.

See ya! And don't let the door hit ya on the way out.

Sirianni took the brunt of a popcorn shower after a disgruntled Eagles fan dumped his bucket on the field toward the third-year coach after perhaps the worst postseason loss in perhaps the worst final six weeks in franchise history.

Sirianni got off easy Monday night.

His luck may not extend to his employment. Sirianni is on the hot seat and there’s little indication — aside from glum looks in his suite and no-comments to the media — which way owner Jeffrey Lurie will go. Take a look at the full picture and it almost seems silly to consider a change: Sirianni has three playoff trips in three seasons, a Super Bowl appearance and wins in 67% of his regular-season games.

But Lurie’s call isn’t all about three years. It’s about everything that has happened since Nov. 26, when the Eagles were 10-1 and at the top of the NFL. It was three straight losses and five of six overall to close the regular season. It was a 32-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an NFC wild-card game on Monday night that assured changes — big ones — loom for the Eagles.

Sirianni may get a reprieve. His staff is sure to undergo a makeover.

Defensive coordinator Sean Desai already took the fall for the defense and his responsibilities were stripped down the stretch. Matt Patricia only made the defense worse. Offensive coordinator Brian Johnson couldn’t do much right other than call for the “tush push” on fourth-and-1.

Jalen Hurts regressed. Wide receiver A.J. Brown sulked because of misuse, then missed a playoff game with an injury (Sirianni played his starters in a meaningless season finale). Haason Reddick went from feared pass rusher with 16 sacks last season to 11 through 13 games this season to none over the final five games after Patricia dropped him into pass coverage.

The Eagles lost to backup QBs. They lost to bad teams.

The biggest loss just may have been the Eagles’ faith in Sirianni.

When Hurts was asked if he wanted Sirianni back, the QB simply said, “I didn’t know he was going anywhere."

Pressed repeatedly on Sirianni, Hurts sounded more like an artificial intelligence version of what a QB would say after a preseason game.

“I have a ton of confidence in everyone in this building. Just a matter of us going out there and playing clean football, and that’s been something we have not done,” he said.

What a ringing endorsement.

Sirianni, for his part, said he was only “thinking about the guys” and not his job status.

It doesn’t help that should Lurie fire Sirianni, the pool of candidates is particularly deep this offseason. Bill Belichick is on the market. Mike Vrabel is free. Even Jim Harbaugh might have an itch to return to the NFL.

Lurie, though, has hired only rookie NFL coaches in his tenure: Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, Doug Pederson and Sirianni. Based on past history, Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman are surely gathering names of unknown or perhaps unwanted assistants.

Maybe one of those potential candidates — or a hot new surprise — has a better handle on why the Eagles collapsed. Sirianni still isn’t sure.

“Throughout the body of work of the season it was good, but it wasn’t as good in the last couple weeks,” he said. “I think you can look at everything, if you look at the body of work in a lot of different things this season, the numbers may say one thing but it wasn’t good enough in the past month of the season, right?”

Right.

JALEN’S REGRESSION

Hurts played through injuries all season, everything from a bone bruise on his left knee that hampered his running to a mangled finger that hampered his throwing.

He’ll certainly be back after agreeing in April to a five-year, $255 million extension, including $179.3 million guaranteed.

Hurts flashed only occasional glimpses of the dynamic play that made him the NFL MVP runner-up last season and sparked the Eagles’ run to the Super Bowl. He clearly had trouble picking up defenses — notably blitzes — and stopped trying to throw deep. His determination to the end to try to make a play saw him rarely throw the ball away — and that cost him when he took a safety against the Buccaneers.

He threw one more touchdown (23) pass in 17 games than he did in 15 last season while his interceptions soared from six to 15.

“I think different years require different versions of a person, and I’ll just continue to learn to be the best leader I can be for this team and for this organization,” Hurts said.

FREE AGENTS

Defensive end Brandon Graham says he’d like to return for a farewell tour. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox also faces an uncertain future. Both players are in their 30s and have a lot of miles on them. D’Andre Swift, a 1,000-yard rusher, is one of three running backs approaching free agency, and wide receiver Quez Watkins may have dropped his last pass for the Eagles.

KELCE’S FAREWELL

One player who isn’t coming back is center Jason Kelce.

The heart of the Eagles, Kelce has told teammates he’s not coming back for another season, the first domino to fall in an offseason sure to keep the transaction wire humming.

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