Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Hey, guys, nice to see all of you. We talk about today being one of the hardest days of the year. Really appreciate all the contributions to all the players that started here on our 90-man roster.
When we think about our roster going into the season, we talk about two parts. We talk about the 70-man roster that we have with our practice squad guys, our 16 guys and our international player, [DE] Matt Leo, and then the 53 guys.
We’ve got a lot of work to do here in the next 24 hours to put all of those pieces together and really appreciate all the contributions from our front office, from our personnel staff and certainly our coaching staff and all our support staff during training camp, putting training camp together. And again, tough circumstance, with COVID and everything that’s going on.
Q. Hey Nick, and Howie, you can jump in too on this if you want. Nick, you had said that you talked to the team and had showed five players during your previous coaching stops who went into the final preseason game and sort of stamped their ticket onto the roster. Who were those five guys, and was there a player or two who did that in the final preseason game against the Jets? (Jimmy Kempski)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, you’re saying in the past who were those guys?
Q. Yeah, who were the five players that you showed the team that made – (Jimmy Kempski)
NICK SIRIANNI: Oh, I’ve got you. One was [Chargers RB] Austin Ekeler in 2017. One was [former Chargers WR] Dontrelle Inman in 2014. We talked about [former Vikings S Andrew] Sendejo, he was with [Eagles Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Jonathan] Gannon; I believe that was in 2014. There was a returner with [Eagles Special Teams Coordinator] Coach [Michael] Clay, gosh what was his name? [former 49ers WR] Victor Bolden, and with [Senior Vice President of Communications] Bob Lange, that was 2017.
The last one is slipping me a little bit here, but those were the four guys we talked about and showed clips on them because — oh, the other one was [Colts WR] Zach Pascal, that was in 2018 with the Indianapolis Colts.
Those were the couple guys we showed clips of their last preseason game, and it gave them inspiration of, ‘Hey, this game right here can really dictate my future.’
To say that a guy — again, we don’t disregard what they did in the past month of training camp or even in the off-season or the games before that. And so, it is a body of work that you look at, but you’re always looking for somebody that has a good game, that in that game that makes his last final statement of, ‘Hey, I’m ready to make this roster.’
Q. So, two questions and you can divide them up however you want. Number 1, the decision to go with five receivers and go with WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside over WR Travis Fulgham and WR John Hightower, why was that decision made? And what does Travis Fulgham need to work on with consistency? We saw, best receiver in football for a month last year. What does he need to do a make a 53-man roster here? (John Clark)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think the first thing is with [WR] Travis [Fulgham], here’s a guy who obviously had a heck of a stretch for us last year. And we looked at it that this was a new year and this was a new beginning, and we wanted to go based on what we saw and take the whole process into play.
When you talk about [WR] J.J. [Arcega-Whiteside] and what he did during camp and his contributions on offense, his willingness and his desire to be an excellent special teams player, which you saw during the preseason, and the whole picture of that and how it fits into the group at receiver.
And then, when you talk about numbers – again, we don’t look at it just as who we’re keeping on the 53. We look at it as who we’re keeping on the 70. So, we try to figure out to the best that we can — obviously a lot is going to happen in the next 24 hours — about how that puzzle comes about.
We’ve always been like this here, and one of the things we talked about a lot when we were interviewing Coach [Sirianni] and really throughout this whole process being together is how we want this to look. That’s why you see we’re so heavy on the offensive line and defensive line. It’s a priority for us. When you do that, you’re going to have to make sacrifices at some other spots.
Q. Nick, could you answer with Travis Fulgham, what does he need to do as far as consistency to make that 53? (John Clark)
NICK SIRIANNI: Well, again, I don’t want to get into that as far as much as what Howie is saying right there with the offensive and defensive line carrying the guys on our offensive and defensive line. Really, what I’d like to talk about more is that J.J., right, he — again, we’ve talked a lot on this team that good teams play well on offensive line, defensive line, and on special teams.
And J.J. really did a good job this year on special teams, and sometimes that’s the thing at the end of the day that is the separator of what’s happening on special teams and what he can do over there in Coach Clay’s room.
Q. The first part for Howie and the second part for Nick, if that’s alight. In respect to the QB Gardner Minshew acquisition, how was that communicated to QB Jalen Hurts, and how did he respond to it? And for Nick, are you ready to name Hurts the starter now that we’re through the preseason? (Tim McManus)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Everybody knows our priority on quarterbacks. [Jokingly] We’re obviously a quarterback — what’s the word? Factory, yes. So, I think it’s a priority for us and we’re always going to invest in that position.
We had a chance to talk to [QB] Jalen [Hurts] and to [QB] Joe [Flacco], too, and tell them that we thought it was an opportunity to get a good player, a good person at an important position, and certainly Jalen had an excellent preseason and continued to get better, and Joe was really impressive during the preseason and during camp as a whole.
I think that in 15 of the last 16 years here in Philly, we’ve carried three quarterbacks, so I don’t think it’s unusual for us. And when you look at the 17-game schedule and everything that’s kind of going on in the world, we thought it was a good opportunity for our football team to improve.
Q. How did Jalen Hurts respond to that, Howie? (Tim McManus)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: He’s great. Jalen’s [QB Jalen Hurts] all about the team and he’s very confident in his ability and very secure in where he stands with all of us.
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, and as far as your question on Jalen, really nobody else got any reps with the ones, and Jalen has known, ‘Hey, nobody else has gotten any reps with the ones but me,’ and Jalen is our starter. He’s done a great job.
We wanted him to take advantage of the opportunity and take the reins with the advantage of the opportunity that he got, and we feel like the preseason that he had, he did that.
I consistently saw a player that got better every single day. I consistently saw a player make the read, getting better with his reads and his accuracy and his ability to run and when not to run.
He did exactly what we wanted him to do. Again, nobody else has worked with the ones, so you could really argue that we named a starter a while ago. Jalen will be our starter, and he’s earned that right with a great preseason, and we’ve got a lot of confidence in him and in that room in general.
Q. Howie, just to follow up on the quarterback situation, from Gardner’s perspective, how did you address things with him? He obviously wanted to compete with QB Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville. Then Nick, your core values, you always talk about connection is number one. This is the first time you had to do this as a head coach. How difficult was it for you? (John McMullen)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Yeah, I think with Gardner coming in this late in camp and really after the preseason, I think his priority is just learning the system, really connecting with his teammates and his coaches.
We see his work ethic already. He’s always around. He’s always in the building. I think that’s the first priority. Just seeing those guys out together, you see the three of them really connecting and getting to know each other. I think that’s the priority right now. Gardner is a good teammate. He knows it’s about the team and it’s about supporting the guys who are playing.
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, today is a difficult day, whether you’re a position coach, whether you’re a coordinator, whether you’re a head coach, whether a general manager. It’s a tough day.
There are guys that you have to let go that you’ve built a connection with. I just think honesty is always the best way to go with them, and tell them what they need to work on and what they can do better. I just have never went wrong telling somebody the truth.
But it’s hard. It is hard. You’ve got guys in there that you really care about. Good teams connect with each other, and we’ve been trying to do that from day one here when we got here. That’s just not one through 53; that’s not just one through 70; that’s one through 90 players. You try to connect with all those guys.
Shoot, that’s why you coach. That’s why I coach. I coach because I love being on a team still and I love connecting with players on a team and the football players on our team.
Any time you have to make a cut and any time you have to talk to a player about that, that’s tough. But again, when you’re honest with them, they might not always like what you’re saying, but we owe it to them to be honest with them. We owe it to them to tell them the things they need to do to continue to work on their craft, and I think that goes a long way.
Q. Howie, how much did the vested veterans and the waiver wire factor into the composition of the roster, and with the two young rookie defensive linemen, how did you factor in the long-term development there versus what you saw during the past few weeks? (Zach Berman)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, in terms of the first question, just — I’m not sure I understand the question.
Q. In terms of exposing players to the waiver wire versus vested veterans who wouldn’t go on the waiver wire and so you could potentially bring them back, such as you did with Cre’Von LeBlanc last year. (Zach Berman)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think we’re always trying to balance the short- and long-term for this franchise. I think that’s the hardest part of the job, is you want to give the coaches as much support as possible to win on Sundays, but I think our coaching staff and Coach [Sirianni] do a great job of understanding kind of the big picture here, too, and understanding what we’re trying to do, trying to get back to competing for championships and really being in the playoffs every year.
Some of the decisions that you’re going to make right now, you sacrifice some things for the short-term for the long-term, and I think that rolls right into the defensive linemen. When you talk about the defensive linemen, these are two guys that we drafted and that we feel really good about.
Are they exactly where they need to be today? No. I think that when you talk about coming into any profession, as you grow, as you learn, as you get better with time and experience, that helps, and we see the potential in these guys. I think that like [Eagles DE] Tarron [Jackson] you saw the flashes, you saw both those guys in the last preseason game, they got better and better, and that’s what we’re looking for from young players. We are looking to see that they continue to improve.
They got the tools in their body. We had good grades on both those guys coming out. We love the character and the work ethic, and so we want to work with those guys and develop them.
I think that kind of looking back at maybe sometimes we’ve gone with an older guy in the short-term and then the next year we’ve got to go draft another guy at that same position, I think we’re investing in our player development program. We’re investing in our coaches and trusting in those guys to get these guys better and be ready to play this season.
Q. Howie, this roster is noticeably light at running back and receiver with where you guys are on the waiver claim order. Is it likely we see something there? Nick, are there specific traits at those two positions that you’re missing in those rooms right now? (Dave Zangaro)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think, again, it goes to when you carry as many linemen as we’re carrying right now you’re going to have to go light somewhere, and it just so happens right now those are the two positions.
We’ll get back upstairs. Our front office is doing a great job, our scouting staff, of putting together a list as guys get cut. We’re going to watch a lot of those guys. We’re going to have a lot of discussions here in the next 24 hours.
Again, as we look at it, it’s not just the 53 [man roster], it’s the 70 [man roster], and we’ll add players for sure here in the next 24 hours.
Q. Nick, about those two positions, are there things you think you’re missing with them right now? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: You know, look, everything we do is really by committee. I know you guys have asked me a couple times about a slot or an ‘X’ or a ‘Z,’ and I’m speaking obviously right now as a receiver group. We do things by committee, and I feel really comfortable and really confident in the guys that we have on this roster right now to be able to run the offense that we want to run.
We have guys to be able to do that, whether it’s option routes, whether that’s forced blocks, whether that’s speed routes. I feel we’re well-rounded at that position and at the running back position. But just like Howie just said, the roster is not done. The 53 [man roster], you’ve also got the 70 [man roster], and that’s fluid, and we’re still looking to add to that.
But the guys that are here, I’m very confident in that we can do the things that we want to do, and we adapt to what they do well, as well.
We’ve got a really good feel about what they do well at this particular point, and we feel good that we’ve got a well-balanced roster at those two positions.
Q. Howie, what was your level of interest in acquiring Deshaun Watson? (Jeff McLane)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Yeah, I think we’re very confident and comfortable with the quarterbacks that we have on our roster. Any player that is on another team is property of that team, and we’re going forward with who we’ve got here.
We’ll see what happens here in the next 24 hours with the rest of our roster, but when we talk about that quarterback room, we think we’ve got a good blend of youth, of experience, of talented guys, and we’re excited to start the season and to see the players that we have on this football team.
Q. Nick, where does QB Gardner Minshew land on the depth chart? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, he’s the third right now. He’s the third right now. Look forward to working with him. I’ve gotten to see him play in person two times a year for the past four years, or past two years, pardon me, so that’s four times. The first game up there last year we opened up the season at Jacksonville, and he was 19 of 20 against our defense and really played a good game. I’ve watched him play some good games. He’s the third, but I’m really excited to work with him.
And I think [QB] Joe Flacco had a phenomenal camp. Like you saw what he did. You saw what he did, and the world saw what he did in that third preseason game, but it was what he did at practice every day that has us excited for him to be the backup.
He played great with that 155 quarterback rating, but what he did in the Jets practices against the Jets was awesome.
And then obviously [QB] Jalen [Hurts] being our starter, I’m really excited to work with him because I think he’s got special play-making abilities in him.
HOWIE ROSEMAN: That’s a shout-out to Eagles fans all over the world, the world saw what Joe Flacco did. We do have Eagles fans all over the world.
Q. The other day you guys activated S Rodney McLeod and OL Landon Dickerson off their various injury lists. What does that say about their readiness to start the season, and how much do you see them contributing this season? (Martin Frank)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I think the first thing it says is that obviously when you keep them on PUP, they’re going to miss the first six games. We feel very confident that that’s not going to be their situation.
After that, we’ll listen to our doctors, we’ll listen to our trainers, we’ll listen to the players, and we’ll take it day by day and we’ll keep you guys informed with their progress.
Q. As far as Landon is concerned, how much do you see a guy like that contributing this year? What do you see his potential as, I guess? (Martin Frank)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Well, I think you go back to last season, obviously we had a lot of opportunities for our offensive linemen to play. We’re hoping that our five starting offensive linemen play every snap, so in that case, he wouldn’t play at all. But certainly, injuries happen in this game, and when he’s cleared and ready to play, obviously we have a lot of confidence in Landon Dickerson.
Q. You guys made it through the preseason without starter injuries, but you did have some depth that was banged up. Obviously with the COVID rules and allowing you to put guys on IR and then move them short-term off of there, obviously that’s a benefit to you, but with the cutdown list and having to keep players on the active roster in order to do that, how difficult did it make shaping the roster kind of with this initial cut? (Mike Kaye)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: Yeah, and for any of those guys that you keep now, it’s not like you can swap them out right now for the cut. You carry them through tomorrow until the 4:00 cut.
You know, you’ve just got to make decisions based on the value of those guys and the value to your football team, and we spent a lot of time talking about that, and the guys that we’re going to keep and hold, knowing that they were going to go on IR but come back at some point.
You know, we’ll obviously — in the next 24 hours we’ll have some roster moves to make there with some of those guys, as well.
Q. Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer said earlier today that vaccination status played a role in their cut-down decisions. I was wondering, did it play a role for you guys at all? And as you go into the season, protocols are different when you want to bring somebody in off another team or off the street as far as vaccination, how long they have to wait. How will you handle that, and will that be a determining factor when you want to bring in guys? (Rob Maaddi)
HOWIE ROSEMAN: We cut the roster based on the 53 best guys that we thought could help our football team, and obviously just — we talked a little bit about trying to balance the short-term and long-term for our football team, but that’s how we made our decisions.
And then going forward, when we look at guys, we’re going to look at them based on their ability, how they fit our system, what their background is, to make sure we’re bringing in the right people into this building. That’s really how all our discussions have been about.
Q. For either of you guys, all but one of your draft picks made the 53. I wanted to ask you for a general evaluation of the rookie class and also with Patrick Johnson, what kind of odds did he face at the start of the training camp and what did he show you that led to him making the 53? (EJ Smith)
NICK SIRIANNI: I mean, with the draft class, really confident in the abilities of the guys. I felt like everybody that we drafted I was super excited about, Howie was super excited about. We were genuinely excited about these guys. Why? Because they had talent.
But the other things that these guys had in my opinion, all these guys, they were high-character people that love football and that were tough. And when you have talent, talent is the most important thing, but if you’re high character and if you love ball and you’re tough, you’re going to reach your ceiling, and you’re going to reach your ceiling quicker.
As long as us as coaches are doing our jobs of developing them. I don’t think it’s any secret that the type of people — the type of players first and then the type of people we brought in here have made this roster. So really excited about that and excited to see how they continue to develop as the season goes along.
Q. You said about Jalen Hurts that he’s taken all the reps with the starters, so it’s sort of obvious that he is the starter. Is it the same at left tackle with T Jordan Mailata? He’s taken all the reps recently; is he your starting left tackle? And with Howie, how would you evaluate how Jordan Mailata and T Andre Dillard have come along this summer? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: Jordan [Mailata] will be our starter. Jordan had a great camp, a great camp. Andre had a great camp. Andre missed some time, and during that time the chemistry with the one offensive line was able to build. It’s a good problem for us to have. We have two left tackles that can really play and can start in my opinion all across the NFL.
Jordan did a good job of winning that position, but then again, I don’t want to short Andre here at all. He played — when he was in, he played really well, and he played a phenomenal last preseason game, and I thought that was the case also in the Jets practices, as well.
Again, we’re not — you don’t just say, ‘Hey, here’s one game, here’s a splash game and we’re just doing everything based off of that.’ The whole body of work is at play, and I’m just sure glad that we got both those guys on this roster.
HOWIE ROSEMAN: I mean, I think he answered the question pretty well there. Anything that you want me to add?
Q. Nick, you didn’t get to see anybody in a team setting in the spring, so was there anyone when you got through camp and the preseason games, anyone who really wasn’t on your radar very much when camp started who made himself known to you as things went along, that you were surprised by, I guess? (Les Bowen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, and I don’t want to — I mean, there’s always — I mean, [TE] Tyree Jackson, I know where he’s at right now, but he played quarterback last year for goodness sakes, so that’s an easy one for me to answer because he played quarterback, and he came out here and he really was showing how good of a tight end he can be. Super happy with that.
But Tyree, again, is this high-character guy that loves football, that’s tough, and he’s got a lot of talent in his body. So I guess that’s the — I want to make sure I give you at least one guy right there because there are multiple guys on the team there, and so Tyree is definitely one, and it’s no surprise, we’ve got a great tight end coach. In my opinion we’ve got the best tight end coach in the NFL in [Tight ends coach] Jason Michael.
Again, you have the qualities that — Howie brings in the qualities of these guys with Tyree, and he’s got this ability, he’s got high character, he’s got toughness, and he loves ball, and then you combine that with good coaching like we have in Jason [Michael], and that’s where you’re getting a guy that we hope to help us in the future here.