Q. Regarding you and your staff, as Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon and Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen have emerged as interview candidates for other head coaching jobs, how are you currently best supporting them while also making sure you accomplish the task at hand? Considering the amount of opponents that you may face and the total bandwidth, how have you gone about assigning responsibilities for your entire staff as you scout and prep this whole week? (Josh Tolentino)
NICK SIRIANNI: First of all, to your first question, you hire guys like [Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] and [Defensive Coordinator] Jonathan [Gannon] that are committed to the team. Also, obviously they want to be able to do what’s best for them and their families.
I know that first and foremost, is that these guys are committed to this team. You have some time off here later in the week as far as we’re not grinding until 10 o’clock, maybe every night. There is some time that’s happening later in the week for them to be able to do that.
As far as anything with just helping them get ready for it, I really made a conscious effort of doing that all during the off-season, very similar to what [former Colts Head Coach] Frank Reich did for me when he had nuggets to give me, I made a very deliberate point of once a week getting the guys together and talking to them about things that I felt would help them, when they had time to think about those things a little bit more. I always thought that was my responsibility as the head coach, to help them with those things.
Again, I’ll be a sounding board for them if they need to bounce some things off of me. But I’ll let them tell you when those interviews are going to happen and everything like that. I don’t want to get into that. I’ll let them tell you that.
They’ll happen when there’s time for them to be able to do that, right? We’re in the middle of self-scout right now. I know all our minds are on that. Again, you just don’t get ready for an interview the week of the interview or the day of the interview, right? These guys have been preparing for this, just like I did before I got the head coaching job here. It’s just tidying up some things, making sure they’re ready.
[Jokingly] I imagine Gannon will wear a pretty nice suit. I imagine he has it dry cleaned. Yeah, Shane will have a nice suit on, but not as nice as Gannon’s. They’ll be getting ready with that as well.
[In regard to your second question] This first part of the week is going to be devoted strictly towards self-scout and that’s it. Then later in the week, we’ll be getting to that.
First and second down, you have different responsibilities of what you have. You really get the head start on first and second down. We’ll double up on some things. But we have a good staff, like I said. If I’m responsible for one part and [Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] is responsible for the other part, we’ll take educated guesses.
Two of the four opponents we’ve played recently, right? We have a lot of thoughts on those two division opponents. Tampa we obviously played last year, but obviously that’s been a long time. We’ll have to do a little bit there. Seattle, we haven’t played in my two years here, so we’ll have to do a little bit there, as well.
We have different assignments, just like everyone has in their normal week. You just might have to go home, and when you go home, make sure you’re getting caught up on some of the tape that you haven’t watched on those teams.
Q. On QB Jalen Hurts’ shoulder, how did he come out of the Giants game physically? Is he going to have to play through pain the rest of the way, is that your understanding? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: The second part of that, I’m not sure I can answer that question. We are fortunate that we have two weeks till the next time we play, depending on if it’s Saturday or Sunday. We’re fortunate there.
Again, he’s going to be a little bit healthier than what he was obviously the other day.
He came out sore, as expected. He came out of that game sore because it’s still healing, right? Like, we didn’t feel like we were putting him at any more risk of getting more injured, but we knew it was going to hurt him like hell, he knew it was going to hurt him like hell. That’s the kind of player he is, that’s the kind of teammate he is. He fought through it because it was important for him to be out there, he knew how important it was for him and his teammates to be out there.
Q. I wanted to ask about DE Josh Sweat. I know you don’t do timelines, but are you generally optimistic? He seems to think he can play again, he will play again. Where is he right now? What’s his chances of being out there? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: I know he is feeling better. That’s obviously a long way from when we all had to watch him have to be carted off. I know he’s feeling better. I know he made a push to play last week.
We felt like it wasn’t in his best interest to play last week health-wise. Are we hopeful that he’ll play in two weeks? Yeah. Again, just like you said, I don’t want to say yes, he’s going to play. We’re really hopeful and feel good that he will.
Anything can happen, but we know he’s trending in the right direction of getting healthy. That’s a good thing because he brings so much to this defense. We feel his presence every time that he’s out on that field.
I know that the offense that’s playing against him has to account for him on every play. We’re hopeful. He’s definitely doing better. Thank God that he is. We’ll take it one day at a time.
Again, we are hopeful.
Q. You spoke about your schedule, but this is your first time in this situation in the NFL with a first-round bye. How do you go about determining how to handle it from scheduling to messaging, to how to spend the week to preparation? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Just like you do with any other thing, everything is a learned skill, right? You like to think you invented an idea or something like that. In actuality, you take little bits and pieces from each coach you’ve been around. Whether that’s the good things you’ve been around or the bad things you have been around.
Then, because I haven’t been in this scenario, obviously now it’s calling the coaches that I trust, calling the coaches that have experienced this before, asking them how they handled it. At the end of the day, just like I have to do with everything, I have to take little bit of information from everywhere. At the end of the day, I have to make the decision that I think is important, that benefits the team the most.
One thing I can say, that I will say, is that fundamentals are going to be a big part of winning in the playoffs. Just like we believe it really is in the regular season, as well, right? Fundamentals. This player is a good player, that player is a good player, this coach is going to call a good play, that coach is going to call a good play. What it comes down to is your fundamentals.
We’ll have a little bit more time for individual this week to get back to some of the fundamentals that you might not have enough time to do in the year, kind of more so like a training camp practice or an OTA practice where you have more time.
That doesn’t mean we’re not going to be in pads or anything like that. All that means is there’s going to be a little bit more time devoted to that individual like there was in OTAs and training camp.
The other thing is it’s going to take some situations. If we’re going to do all the things that we want to do in the playoffs, that’s literally winning the first game and then taking it from there, there’s going to be situations. It’s going to be the smart football teams where it’s going to come down to things like that.
We’re going to rep that this week, some of the situational football, some of the situations that happen within the situations of those, work on some things that we’ve studied. Again, you have more time to do that now. Maybe different types of end-of-game plays, get-in-position plays, different types of backed-up plays, all those different things that have been on our radar, that we’ve been working on, but now you can get some full-speed reps of that.
Q. I know you said you guys are in the middle of doing your self-scouting right now and since that’s the case, what have you seen from TE Dallas Goedert and what have you seen from these teams, especially when it comes to covering him in the red zone? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: With [TE] Dallas [Goedert], obviously we’re still at the beginning portions of this self-scout. We know how important it is to get him the football.
To say that we’re to a point where we’ve studied each individual and their catches, we have not got to that point yet. You know the identity. We’ll get to our passing game. We’ll get to our red zone game. Right now, you’re going through sacks, you’re going through interceptions, you’re going through fumbles, you’re going through drops. You’re going through some of those things. You’re thinking to yourself, ‘How can we coach this better, be more detailed on this to help the guys, put them in position to succeed?’
There is a time which just hasn’t happened yet, but we’ll get to individual routes that guys have run, concepts that we’re good at, identity plays within that. What do you try to do? You’re trying to put yourself in position to run the plays that you feel like you’re successful at to the guys that you’re successful with. All that will be taken into account.
And Dallas, what we’re going to see, I can already say, we’re going to see how efficient Dallas is. The different things that he’s good at will reflect itself, and we have a good idea of what those things are but that’s coming up in the process. We look forward to getting to that.
Q. With all the success you guys have had this year, I’m sure you realize it was a possibility you might lose Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon or Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen. Have you spent much time throughout the year thinking about contingency plans, what you might have in-house and out of the NovaCare complex that might help out in that case? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Like I said, I know you’re going to hear me say we take it one day at a time.
Still as the head coach, I still have to think about those things because that is a very important part of being a head coach, is who you replace guys with. You’re hoping that you have success. You’re hoping you lose guys for the benefit of them and their career and their family.
You hate to lose guys because the reason they’re here in the first place is because I felt like they were really good coaches.
Just like you go into a job interview and you say, ‘I want this guy, this guy, and this guy.’ That’s not always the reality that you’re going to get all those guys.
It’s the same scenario here. Of course, I want to keep these guys, they’re great coordinators, but in the event that I lose them, I have an idea of what I want to do at both spots. The answer is sometimes, yes, it’s in the building, sometimes it’s outside of the building. But I feel like we have a lot of good options, and I feel like we have a lot of good options in the building that we’d be excited about if that were to happen.
Q. Curious about the self-scout part of it. When you go back to the bye week, which has been a while now, you obviously have that process. Does it change any way at all when you’re heading into the playoffs? Is there a different way you try to tackle it? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: We feel really good about that process. What you’re trying to do is go through and you’re watching the tape of these things, right? For instance, we just got done watching the sack tape and I won’t get into that.
There’s the data of it, you have one coach that summarizes that data, you see common denominators of what that data may say, then you put the tape on and let the tape tell the story.
You watch it, then at the end of that, whatever spurs thought, you watch. Whatever spurs a ‘Hm, this is a common denominator here, let’s watch them all’, it spurs thought. And then you go and you summarize those things. ‘Hey Shane, what did you see there? Hey [Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line coach Jeff] Stout [Stoutland], what did you see there?’ And I’ll tell them what I saw there. It’s an open room to say that.
That’s a really important part of the process. We feel like we always tweak our process to get better at it and we really feel good about how that goes.
It is a grind, but that’s what we do. We grind to make sure we can find the answers to put our guys in better spots and to coach them more efficiently.
It’s very similar. Then you look at the part of the game where you feel like you’re a top 10. You have to look at some statistical things and some analytic things where you are a top 10 team and where you are a bottom 10 team. Then you really dive into that bottom 10 team, what you are there and you figure out what’s going on.
Naturally as you go through that process, things pop up, right? We talk about sacks. You might have gone in and examined why this was a common denominator, and then something pops up. So, what you’re doing through that, at the end of the sack reel, you say, ‘Hey, anything pop up right there?’ And naturally, we’ve had three things pop up, and that will be tomorrow. Let’s take care of all the pop-up things within the next couple of days.
We like that process. We feel like we’re very systematic with that process. It’s really the only way I know how to do it, and then just try to improve it each time.
So, it’s very, very, very similar because when you go back, I don’t know, I make taco soup sometimes for my family. I make the taco soup how I made it the last time because, well my kids don’t love it, but my wife likes it. I make the taco soup the way I did last time. Why do my kids not like it? Well because I didn’t give them enough Frito’s on the side. So maybe then I’ll add a couple of Fritos.
[Jokingly] I’ll probably get made fun of for that, but that’s okay.
You have a plan of what you want to do, and you follow that plan, but always trying to make it a little bit better.
To answer your question, long-winded, the answer is, yeah, we stick to that plan, but we also know that that plan has progressed every time we’ve done it. There will be some sort of revelation this week that we say to ourselves, ‘Hey, it was better that we did this, this time’ and that will get added to it. That’s kind of how you go about your processes and that’s what we do getting ready for a week as well. It’s the same, ‘Hey, how did we get ready for last week? Do this again, but remember last week we added this little segment. That really helped us out last week, add it to this week.’ That just builds as you go.
Q. During the course of the year you guys brought in three veteran guys on the defensive line in DE Robert Quinn, DT Linval Joseph and DT Ndamukong Suh. Now that you’ve had them for a couple months, their contributions, not only on the field but also off the field, their intangible type of things both on and off the field? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Obviously, they’ve all played for such a long time, that they have so much to offer to the rest of the room with their experiences, with their techniques, with their fundamentals, with their everything. Off-the-field, on-the-field experiences, both and.
We know our younger guys are getting that wealth of knowledge. Just other guys for them to bounce [ideas off] of because in actuality they’re getting a lot of that knowledge from [DT Fletcher] Fletch [Cox] and [DT Javon] Hargrave, as well. That’s obviously huge. That’s really huge.
It’s just the leading by example, that’s really a big thing. Then you talk about all the things they provide on the field, right? The play, the rotation, the keeping guys fresh, where we just keep bringing numbers at the guys. There’s no shortage of defensive linemen on our football team. That’s an area, I know when we go against a team offensively that is limited on their defensive line rotation, we have a plan to attack that. We really think about that.
I’m not going to get into the secrets of how we do that or what we do. That’s something first and foremost we look at every week, what’s their rotation, how is it playing out and how can we take advantage of that if they don’t have a deep rotation. That’s a huge thing that you can rotate and still have major confidence in everybody that’s going in the football game because of what these guys have done this year, what they’ve done in their past, but most importantly what they’ve done this year, and that’s play good football.