INDIANAPOLIS – Southwestern graduate and current Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said he remembers where he came from, and how he was able to rise to where he is now.
During an exclusive interview with WNYNewsNow Wednesday afternoon, Sirianni credited his family, as well other people that he’s met, for all of the success he’s experienced.
“I’ve been blessed to be able to meet the right people,” Sirianni said. “Growing up in a football family, regardless of whether it was Jamestown, New York, or New York City, or a hotbed of football, like Youngstown, Oh. or Austin, Tx., I grew up in a football family… I was blessed to be born into a game that I eventually grew to love.”
“I know that doesn’t work for everybody. Some people go the opposite way with that. When they’re born into something, they don’t want anything to do with it. But I definitely embrace that.”
Sirianni, the son of Fran and Amy Sirianni, quoted his father as frequently telling him, “When you walk with a man with a limp, you’re going to limp as well.” Fran Sirianni previously coached at Southwestern. Nick’s brother, Jay, also previously coached for Southwestern, while his brother, Mike, is currently the head coach for Washington & Jefferson College.
“When you walk with people that are good people, you’re going to develop yourself as much as you want,” Nick Sirianni said. “No matter where you’re from, you surround yourself with good people, and good things are going to happen.”
Sirianni said his friends and family were amazed that Sirianni started working under ex-Bills QB and current Colts Head Coach Frank Reich while both were coaches for the then-San Diego Chargers.
“When we (Reich and Sirianni) first got hired in San Diego, I called a couple of my friends and said, ‘Man, you don’t even know who the quarterback coach is, it’s Frank Reich,'” Sirianni said. “Obviously, growing up in Western New York, that name holds a lot of weight, and obviously, around the NFL, but particularly in Western New York.”
“I remember my friends being like, ‘Woah, that’s crazy. You’re working for Frank, working with and under Frank.'”
WNYNewsNow asked Sirianni for context as to what truly goes into serving as an NFL coordinator. Sirianni answered by saying that an NFL coach must remain committed and attentive.
“The job involves a lot of hard work,” Sirianni said. “I think any position and coach in the NFL, and particularly in coaching, whether it’s the high school level, requires a lot of hard work and focus on your craft. Understanding the game of football. Understanding how to lead individuals, and lead men.”
“I think one thing that can’t be overlooked is the desire to stay in the game and stay connected to the game that you love, and that you’ve played since you were a little kid.”
Sirianni credited Reich for teaching him about what it means to be a leader and a coach.
“I’ve learned a great deal from him (Reich) on how to lead men, and how to run the quarterback position and about passing, and about the run game and protection,” Sirianni said. “He’s rounded me well as a football coach.”
“Anybody that’s successful in our business owes a great amount of gratitude towards the good coaches that he works under.”
A coach’s ultimate goal is to see their team win the Super Bowl. Sirianni acknowledged, however, that it’s not easy to earn a playoff spot, let alone win a championship. Sirianni, in ten years of coaching in the NFL, has made the playoffs only three times.
“It is rewarding when you get into the playoffs because it is such a long season and a long run,” Sirianni said. “Now, everyone is hungry to move further, as you get in there, but it’s (playoff berth) not something to be overlooked.”
“Our goal is to win it all, and we feel we have the type of team that can do that. But, to get into the playoffs, not everyone is in that position. A lot of teams were at home while we were playing. You can’t underestimate that experience that we got from every position.”
Sirianni added that, in two other seasons, the team he coached was eliminated from playoff contention in the last game of the regular season. In addition, Sirianni said that the Chargers were eliminated the year the Bills returned to the playoffs.
Sirianni, who also graduated from and coached at Mount Union, said any type of playoff experience allows a team to strive for more in the future.
“That experience and that extra work and playing in big time games really prepare you for the next year,” Sirianni said. “It’s going to leave a hunger in those guys’ mouths that says, ‘You know, we’ve been there. We need to get back there and then some,’ it compels guys to work harder.”
The Colts punched a ticket to the 2018-19 NFL Playoffs after defeating the AFC South foe Tennessee Titans on Sunday Night Football in Week 17. Indianapolis upset another division foe, the Houston Texans, on Wild Card Weekend before falling to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round.
At this point in the offseason, Sirianni explained that coaches are evaluating their own players and schemes, as well as players and schemes from other NFL and college teams. After that, coaches will begin preparing for the NFL Draft.
Sirianni was previously a coach for the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers, serving as wide receivers coach (2016-17), quarterbacks coach (2014-15) and quality control-offense (2013).
After originally joining the Chargers in 2013 as a quality control coach on offense, Sirianni served as quarterbacks coach for San Diego from 2014-15. Quarterback Philip Rivers was selected to Pro Bowls in his two seasons with Sirianni as his position coach.
Sirianni’s NFL coaching career started with the Kansas City Chiefs where he served as wide receivers coach (2012) and offensive quality control coach (2009-2011).
Prior to the NFL, Sirianni coached five years (2004-08) at the collegiate level. He served as wide receivers coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from 2006-08. Sirianni began his coaching career, the University of Mount Union, where he served as defensive backs coach from 2004-05. He helped the Purple Raiders to a national title in 2005.
Sirianni won three NCAA Division III National Championships (2000-02) as a wide receiver at Mount Union. A three-year starter, he earned All-Ohio Athletic Conference honors as a senior after a career-high 13 touchdown catches. Sirianni spent one season (2005) playing in the Atlantic Indoor Football League with the Canton Legends before transitioning into coaching.