Plus, the Eagles head coach talks getting ready for the San Francisco 49ers, and more.
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Wednesday as the team gets back on the practice field, and he talked about preparing for the San Francisco 49ers, why he’s excited for his first home game in The Linc, and a bit about the work to improve Jalen Hurts’ completion percentage.
The 49ers recently signed former Eagles Kerryon Johnson to their practice squad, but Sirianni explained why they aren’t too worried about, and while they might need to change up a couple things, it’s not that concerning.
“My experience with that is he doesn’t know what the game plan is this week, right. He can go in there with a lot of different information but that’s a lot of information to dissect. I know any time we’ve been in that scenario, and you start to talk to the guy about, ‘What do you do here, what do you do here,’ it becomes too much. It can become too much information. So we’ll have a couple things that we need to do most definitely, but we can’t overreact to that either.”
Here’s what else the head coach had to say:
On preparing for the 49ers
Former Eagles linebacker DeMeco Ryans is now the defensive coordinator for San Francisco, and Sirianni said that everyone in Philly talks really highly of Ryans as a person and player so he isn’t surprised that he would be a good coach.
The head coach admitted he doesn’t know Kyle Shanahan personally, but you can see that he’s a good coach and that his team plays with good fundamentals and have a good scheme. As for what makes Shanahan a good offense-designer, Sirianni pointed to him knowing how to attack a defense and knowing his system really well and how to compliment that.
Sirianni was asked about the Niners run game, and he gave credit first and foremost to the offensive line, but they also know how to coach and scheme for the players on their roster. He explained that it’s clear to him that they know how to run outside zone and mid-zone, how to coach those, and how to adjust the little things to be successful.
On the home opener
As far as how they need to prepare for their first home game, Sirianni’s message hasn’t changed.
“The pressure of any win or loss or home game, it’s just solely focused on what do we need to do to win this football game scheme wise and how are we going to execute that plan, and are we going to put ourselves in position as a team like we did last week to get better every day, so when you step up on the field on Sunday, you’re ready. Practices were crisp last week, and we stepped on the field and were ready to play that game. If we don’t have good practices this week, we’re not going to be ready. It’s being in that mindset, that dog mentality to put yourself in position to go out and win the game on Sunday.”
Still, the head coach admitted he’s excited to feel the energy of the home crowd and how they’ll certainly take the advantage.
“I’m excited, definitely, to get this home crowd behind us. What a great football city this is. Fans are the best in the NFL. So of course like you see the challenges that are posed to you when you go to another home field, right. You go on the road, there’s challenges. There’s things you have to work on throughout practice throughout the week to help prepare yourself. So, knowing that — and every detail counts. With the margin of error so small in the NFL, everything matters. Everything matters. Not just, ‘Hey, these things matter.’ Everything matters. And so this home crowd matters. Can’t wait, knowing that the margin of error is that small and now we have the home crowd out here cheering us on, that’s a huge advantage, super excited to feel that energy, to feel that energy when we come out. I’m going to be looking at that screen when Rocky comes on. I’ve talked about Rocky before. But I’m going to be looking at that screen when Rocky comes on, and Adrian says, ‘Win,’ and everybody gets juiced up. I’m going to have some energy when I see that.”
On the youth of the roster
Sirianni was asked about the group of 10 players who suited up for their first NFL game on Sunday, eight of which are rookies. The head coach said that when they were drafting players, the first thing they looked at was talent, but after that they wanted guys who love football, had high character, and were tough. They felt like that was the common denominator of this group, and with those things, those are the type of players who will reach their ceiling.
After the win in Week 1, a video came out showing first round draft pick DeVonta Smith dancing in the locker room, and Sirianni was asked about the young players emerging personality. He admitted that at first, you think Smith is a quiet guy, but then you see that he’s got a great personality and he’s just serious about football. The head coach said it was great to see Smith celebrate, however, because enjoying those moments will motivate players to want them again.
On improving Jalen Hurts completion percentage
“It’s just the added reps of getting him to know where to go with the football, because he’s a good enough passer, he’s a really good passer, right, and he does a lot of other things really well. It’s the accumulated reps of decisions of where you are gong with the football in time, does that mean you throw in rhythm every single time? No, but you will more if you know where to go with the football. Then if you don’t, then he has that great weapon of being able to run the football.”
When asked how much responsibility QB Jalen Hurts has at the line of scrimmage, Sirianni emphasized — as he has in the past — that nothing is to the extreme. So, they have some flexibility built in to most plays, but that flexibility changes with each play and based on each look.
Sirianni talked about how having seven guys who can line up in the slot helps with the offensive scheme, and how it doesn’t allow defenses to take one particular guy out of the picture. He pointed out that it’s not just about keeping defenses guessing, but primarily allows them as an offense to put players in spots that they perform well. The head coach said that before they even look at their offensive scheme, they look at the players they have and what they do well, and then build around that.
He also talked a bit about the defensive line rotation and why he wasn’t worried about Fletcher Cox from a stat standpoint:
“I like the defensive line rotation. We definitely need that and we need to be able to keep those guys fresh to keep that pressure on the quarterback and on the run game. Fletch affected the game a lot of different ways that sometimes it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. They will come, though. When you affect the game the way he was affecting the game, those stats will come.”