INDIANAPOLIS – Nick Sirianni knew what was coming.
And he was prepared.
“I knew this would be the topic of discussion obviously,’’ the Philadelphia Eagles head coach said during a Wednesday conference call with Indy media.
That topic: the Colts’ firing of Frank Reich last week.
This wasn’t about one NFL head coach reacting to the dismissal of another. This was about Sirianni reacting to the firing of one of his closest friends and “one of my biggest mentors.’’
“You guys can probably imagine how I felt, what my feelings were about it,’’ he said. “That’s how I feel about Frank. I love him.
“Man, he’s a great football coach, and I owe him a ton.’’
Sirianni was Reich’s offensive coordinator with the Colts from 2018-20 before being named the Eagles’ head coach in January 2021. From 2013-15, they were together on the San Diego Chargers’ offensive staff.
Sirianni returns to Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday for the first time as a head coach. He’ll meet Colts’ interim coach Jeff Saturday for the first time.
“This game’s not about my relationship with anybody in the building or Frank,’’ Sirianni insisted. “But I will say, you guys know how I feel about Frank. And if you don’t know how I feel about Frank, he’s one of the best football coaches I’ve ever been around. He’s one of the best men I’ve ever been around.’’
Sirianni credits three head coaches with molding him into who he is: Fran Sirianni, his father and long-time track coach and football coach at Southwestern Central H.S. in Jamestown, N.Y.; Mount Union’s Larry Kehres, his college coach and one of the winningest coaches in college football history (332-24-3); and Reich.
Sirianni continues to talk with Reich.
“Of course,’’ he said. “But nothing about this. Just about catching up. I talk to Frank just to help myself, too, with head coaching things: ‘Hey, what do you think about this? What do you think about that?’
“That’s not going to change whether he’s with the Colts or not. He’s still helping me no matter what. That’s why he’s one of my biggest mentors.’’
Last week, Sirianni told the Philadelphia media he was “always going to use (Reich) as a consultant whether he’s in the building or if he’s not in the building.’’
Sirianni’s first two seasons as head coach have been impressive. The Eagles finished 9-8 and earned a wild-card playoff spot in 2021, and bring a league-best 8-1 record to Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday. They suffered their first loss Monday night against the Washington Commanders.
“The reason I’m a head coach now is because of the way our team played when I was in Indy,’’ Sirianni said.
Indy “debut” for Saturday
Step 1 in Saturday’s NFL coaching career came last Sunday in Las Vegas.
Step 2 comes Sunday in Lucas Oil Stadium against the Eagles. Saturday spent 13 seasons as the Colts’ decorated center. Now, he’s their interim head coach.
“Oh, man, excited,’’ he said. “You bringing it up brings a smile to my face because I haven’t thought about it. But man, every time I come back here, whether it was two weeks ago with Bone (Tarik Glenn’s Ring of Honor ceremony), walking out with him and they guys, that’s different, man.
Addition to Rhodes’ family
Luke Rhodes’ status for Sunday is uncertain, for two reasons. One, the two-time All-Pro longsnapper suffered a minor calf injury in the win over the Raiders. Two, Rhodes’ wife, Hannah, recently delivered the couple’s second child.
“Which is awesome for him,’’ Saturday said. “I hope that was public knowledge. If not, I apologize. Congrats to he and his bride.’’
With Rhodes’ uncertainty, the Colts brought in three longsnappers for workouts Tuesday: Joe Fortunato, Cole Mazza and Garrison Sanborn.
“Making sure we’re armed up in case,’’ Saturday said.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.