Q. Nick, I know it’s only been three practices but what have you seen from QB Jalen Hurts so far? (Eliot Shorr-Parks)
NICK SIRIANNI: You know, yesterday – yeah, yesterday at the red zone practice, I saw some really good, great throws, like big-time throws. He had one to [TE] Dallas [Goedert] in this corner of the end zone right here, in the right corner of the end zone and he also had one to [TE] Jason Croom that he made a play off a scramble. Just seeing that play-making ability, and that was great to see in that red zone day the other day. So, just want to continue to cut out any mistakes that he’s making and continue to make those plays that he’s making and just see how special he is with the ball in his hands.
Q. Nick, are you and the offensive coaches attacking anything with his fundamentals to work on those areas of his game? (Howard Eskin)
NICK SIRIANNI: We’re always, Howard, talking about feet and how his drop correlates with it. So, everything we do is going to be to get his feet in cinque with the play and to get his feet target line set to where he’s throwing the football. That’s the most important thing we can do for a quarterback’s fundamentals. Again, don’t mess – I don’t mess with the quarterback up top, right. He’s been throwing this way his entire life. I don’t mess with too much of that. Just about the finish, really, up at the top but everything we do fundamentally is going to be with his feet and also ball security and keeping two hands out of pocket and when he is about to move. That is something we have to continue to work on because he has a tendency as he moves to keep one hand on the ball. We’ve just got to get the two hands on the football as he moves in the pocket. So, fundamentals at every position is critical. His is no different and we have a great coach in [Quarterbacks Coach] Brian Johnson. That’s one of the main reasons he’s here, is because he’s great with fundamentals of quarterback play.
Q. How is that process going with him and getting your feedback on his feet and where they should be, where is he in that progress? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: It’s a work-in-progress. You’re just trying to get a little bit better at that each day but, again, it starts with trying to do the right thing with your drop. And then it goes – just like any fundamental, you want to get better at it. You have to drill – you have to walk it, you have to drill it and then you have to carry it over to the team, and it takes time, exactly, what we want him to do on each play.
And so, the process is going well, but we are far from where we need to be.
Q. It’s very early, but so far, do you like what you see from your offensive line? (Merrill Reese)
NICK SIRIANNI: Oh man, this offensive line, just ecstatic to be around this offensive line. Again, you got a lot of guys that have won a lot of football games here, particularly on that right side with [G] Brandon [Brooks] and with [T] Lane [Johnson] and [C] Jason [Kelce] in the middle, and [G] Isaac [Seumalo], for that matter. So, we’re waiting for Isaac and Brandon to get back at it after a couple things that they are going through with their bodies, but yes, just very excited for the offensive line that we have. You know, you win football games because you’re good on the O-line, D-line, that’s no secret. That’s the same no matter if you’re playing pee-wee football, middle school football, high school football, college football, pro football. So, just happy with who we have there and the depth that [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and his staff have got in here with the other players behind them.
Q. Nick, what’s your level of concern with WR Jalen Reagor failing his conditioning test and not really practicing full yet? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: You know, we obviously want all our guys out there every single day. Jalen had to go through some things that I can’t even imagine going through that he had to deal with, so I know that mentally, he has to get himself in a spot. So, I’m not concerned.
He’s been getting himself back ready to go these last couple days. He’s got some tightness in his body, that’s why we’re holding him back. Again, any time – we just believe that in practice so much, that that’s where you improve as a player. So, any time a player misses, of course we’re not going to want that but no concern because he’s on track to be ready and he’ll get some reps today out at practice.
Q. What was your thought process behind stopping practice when you did yesterday and gathering the team? Is that something you typically do? Is that something just on the spur of the moment? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Just wanted practice to finish the way we wanted to finish. There’s so many games in the NFL that come down to the last drive, right? And so, I just wanted it to finish strong. I felt like the defense was having a good day and the offense was having a below-average day, and just wanted them to know that, ‘Hey, whether you’re having a good day or a bad day, when we get in the fourth quarter and it’s tight, you always got to play the next play and the next play. And you can’t think about what’s going to happen in two plays from now or next drive and you sure as heck can’t think about what happened the play before.
And it was just a good example of how a season goes. There’s ups and downs in the season. There’s ups and downs in the game. There’s ups and downs in practice.
It’s just about how you finish and play the next play, and I just thought that was a good opportunity to talk about that with the team.
Q. How is the quarterback room in general? You know, you have a veteran in QB Joe Flacco, a guy with QB Nick Mullens who has played some games in San Francisco. What’s that relationship like behind the scenes with those three players? (Ed Kracz)
NICK SIRIANNI: Quarterback rooms, that is one of the best places in that building. To be able to sit in a quarterback room, I sit in the quarterback room every day. Every meeting, I’m in there, [Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] is in there, Brian’s in there and then obviously Nick, Joe and Jalen.
We just talk through so many things, right? We talk through just why we’re calling a play and what we want it against and what it might not be good against. And there’s just these conversations that go and Joe has all this experience, Nick has experience ,Jalen has experience and just, ‘Hey, what is your favorite time you’ve ever hit this?’ I just seeing in them connecting on being in that room together, and really, really happy with that.
Like I said a couple days ago, really happy with that room. I think a lot of teams in this league would be ecstatic to have the three players that we have.
Q. These first few days, has the defense been ahead of the offense? And if so, does that speak more of your defense or your offense at this point? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think it’s typical early in camp that the defense is ahead of offense in some situations. You know what, we keep score every day. Like really, who won this play? It’s really cut – did the defense win this play or did the offense win this play? Did the defense win this play or did the offense win this play? And so, the defense has won the last couple days and that’s a tribute to Coach [Defensive Coordinator Jonathan] Gannon and his coaches.
But it’s early, right? It’s early and you want that consistency to happen both sides.
And so, I don’t put too much into that, especially at this time. And especially, that’s kind of typical, too, down in the red zone. The windows are tighter. I told you guys the other day why we started in the red zone. So, it’s just a little — I think a lot of the offensive coaches, offensive players are like, ‘Man, that was a rough first day.’ But you gotta realize, again, sometimes the defense is ahead of the offense early in camp and then also at the start of red zone, they are ahead of the offense, too, so it was kind of a double-whammy there.
But, I love the energy the defense is bringing. They are relentless to the football and that’s what we want to do. That relentlessness to the football makes us better getting the football out and protecting the football. I just see the hustle that Coach Gannon has instilled in them and then the players just running to the ball like they are.
So, credit to Coach Gannon and his staff and the players.
Q. What’s been the most challenging aspect of this first week for you? (Mike Kaye)
NICK SIRIANNI: It’s just – everything with a new job title, just the balance of all the – doing what you did to get to this spot, but then also taking on the new responsibilities, and being able to delegate things that you can delegate.
So, it’s just, again, now that we are in training camp – so in the off-season, it was, ‘How do I transition from the offensive coordinator to the head coach while still doing things with the offense?’ And, you know, that’s what you think about in the off-season and then in training camp, it’s the same thing, ‘How do I do it in training camp?’
So, I wouldn’t say – I guess that’s been the biggest challenge to say is just to create that – to have balance, create that balance, and trust the guys. I have so much trust in our offensive coaches, that’s why they are here and I hired them here. Just when I need to be with a player and not in an offensive meeting, be okay with not being in an offensive meeting and being with that player.
Q. Eight days ago you guys signed WR Andre Patton, a guy you had with the Chargers as a wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen has worked with him as well. What do you see in him and how can he help you guys? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: We needed more legs out there with the wide receivers and we had familiarity with Andre. I was with Andre his rookie year, and when I was with him that year, he stayed on our practice squad and the reason he stayed on our practice squad is because we had high hopes for him that he could develop into a good player because he had natural ability to bend. He was long. He had a lot of talent. He could catch — he was solid catching the football and he had a lot of talent in that wide receiver room.
It was fun when I did go to Indianapolis watch him continue to grow and develop and make plays in the NFL. It’s hard to get guys that have made plays in the NFL that aren’t on a team at this particular time, and he gave us an opportunity, that, one, somebody that knew the offense and knew what we expected out of the receiver position and, two, had some experience.
Q. Yesterday we saw T Andre Dillard tap out of a play after he got a helmet in the face; I think the day before, it seemed like he was upset with himself, and you could see it physically manifest itself in the way he was carrying himself. What do you make of how he has mentally handled the early part of camp so far? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’m very pleased with how Andre went through playing through some bumps and bruises that he has and that’s what he’s going to have to do during the season, right. The way their bodies feel now is as good as their bodies are going to feel the entire year because the season just continues to go, and your body just continues to hurt and hurt.
I’ve been very pleased with the way Andre has been pushing through some of the bumps and bruises that he has and continues to press on each day.
Q. How about T Jordan Mailata? How have you felt about the way he’s played? (EJ Smith)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think Jordan came back in phenomenal shape. He had a target weight that he was trying to come back at and he came back at that weight. He came back lighter, he came back more fit and it’s showing out there. And so he’s just a big man that can move like a little man, right. And so I’m really, really happy with the way and happy for Jordan that he came back in the shape that he did because, you know, that’s the key, right, going against those athletes that he’s going against on the other side on the defensive line, he’s going to have to be in the best shape of his life. I think right now he did come back — I’ve only known him for a short time but he said to me, and the strength staff have said, he is in the best shape of his life.
Q. In those close quarters and those tight spaces, how do you think WR DeVonta Smith has handled that the first couple days? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: I give so much credit to DeVonta and his fundamentals. He’s worked at his game and worked at his craft. Give so much credit to the coaches at Alabama, his wide receiver coach, Coach Saban, his offensive coordinator, they have worked at his game and improving his fundamentals and that’s how a player gets better. We have these guys out here that are world-class athletes and if you can combine athleticism with fundamentals, the sky is the limit for a lot of these guys and that’s where I see DeVonta, his fundamentals are really polished for a young player.
So a lot of credit to DeVonta for working at his craft and his game and a lot of credit to the people that have coached him in the past.
Q. You spent this offseason putting the playbook together and now you are seeing it on the field with these players running it, how malleable is it? How much tweaking to you do based on what you see on the field versus what you have on paper? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: Well, what you’re going over now is your staples, your staple plays, and those first couple installs are what you really think you’re going to run a lot of, right. And so it’s not like we just started running these plays. We knew the problems that are proposed to these plays and what we have to do, so it’s not so much anything that we are tweaking. It’s more so like how do we get better at the details of this play. I think there’s a lot of — you could be in a situation and be like, ‘Oh, that looks really good and I’ll run this play from this offense and I’ll run this play from this offense and that play looks good from this offense.’
No, we know these are some of the core value plays and core staple plays we want to do, so it’s not so much tweaking those. It’s just we know how to coach those fine details of that play because that — and get those guys really good at those fine details, because at the end of the day, it’s how do you execute those, even when the defense knows what you’re going to run; how are you going to execute those plays and the teams that execute those plays are the ones that know those fine details and play with high fundamentals.
Q. You gave some of the older guys the day off, a maintenance day, yesterday. How do you balance guys needing to work in the new system and scheme and getting them the time off? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, that’s a good question. We’re constantly thinking about how to keep the players healthy. Again, great training staff headed by [vice president of sports medicine/head athletic trainer] Tom [Hunkele]. Great strength and conditioning staff headed by [vice president of player performance] Ted [Rath] and Dr. Arsh [chief medical officer Arsh Dhanota, MD, CAQSM] being oversight and everything.
We just are always thinking about how we keep these guys healthy and so one thing that we do is these guys have to — the guys that are older in the league and have had some years under their belt, we took care of the other day. They are on a schedule that — we have it scheduled out right now with exactly what days we know they are going to miss and yesterday was their first scheduled day. It was all about keeping them healthy. I’m not concerned at all about the plays in the new system. They are in the meeting room and walkthrough, so they are getting mental reps, but I know their bodies benefitted from what we did yesterday and the suggestions of our strength and conditioning staff.
Q. What are your conversations like with C Jason Kelce? How do you lean on him and how is he a resource and you must have a good Jason Kelce story already, right? (Bob Grotz)
NICK SIRIANNI: You bounce the pulse of the team off of him, right. He’s close with all the guys on the team that people look up to him. Man, I just think about him and I think about these high — these very smart individuals, highly intellectual individuals that I’ve been around in this game, football smart and he’s right up there at the top and it’s just great to be around guys like that.
I would be pressed not to say he’s in that category of Philip Rivers and Nick Hardwick and Jason Kelce, these guys I’ve been around that they get it and they know exactly what they want to do because they have seen the defense a hundred times. I’m imagining that’s how Drew Brees was and Tom Brady is because they have seen these things so many times.
So yeah, it’s just great to be around a guy like that because he can really lead your protections and your calls on the offensive line, and so just got so much respect for him, and all that he’s done in the league and what I see him doing every day out here.
Q. Just want to ask you about the left tackle competition, how has that looked these first few days? How are Jordan and Andre handling that? (Ed Kracz)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I mean, everybody’s competing for a job, and I think those two guys are no different. I know they are both embracing it, and I see them both playing at a good level right now. They can both be better. But I see them both playing at a good level right now and again, they just know what this program stands for: Connecting, competing, accountability, football IQ and fundamentals. I just see them attacking that every single day.
It’s too early to tell, particularly with offensive linemen as far as that because that position and this whole game is played with those pads on. So when we get those pads on, it’s going to start to shake out and it will play itself out.
Q. You mentioned that WR Jalen Reagor is going through a tough personal time right now, how do you make sure you and the team become a support system for him? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Just being there for him. If we are going to say the very first core value is connecting and then aren’t there for players in a time of need, then we’re full of it. And so it’s just being there for him, and you know, having the people in place in the building to help him deal with anything that he’s going through. So you have professionals that do that, right, that can talk to him if need be and then you just have coaches that care for him that are there to talk to him, too.
I think you see, too, the players, you see that this is a tight-knit group of players, as well. So there’s a lot of guys for him to be able to talk to, again, professionals, coaches and his teammates.