Q. How has this week been for you? Do you have a feel for the team coming off the bye, how they’re feeling? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah. I think we’ve had a good week of practice, good week of walk-through, good week of meeting. Business as usual. I just know our guys are professionals and come out and do their business every day to make sure they’re ready to play.
So it’s been a good week of practice. We got to finish it up. We need a good practice today. Working some situational football in practice today, so we need a good week because we know things like that are going to pop up big time during the game.
Q. After the Wild Card round, Jacksonville comes all the way back, Buffalo takes the lead, Miami comes back. A lot of that happening over last weekend. Is there any messaging that you’re giving to your players about playoff football? (Rob Kuestner)
NICK SIRIANNI: We know that situations pop up more in close games. I know we’ve had the lead, someone told me our record with a 10-plus-point lead, I can’t remember what it was, but we’ve done a good job of protecting those leads. I won’t get into the formula of what we do in the second half or anything like that, but that’s always on our mind.
Again, we always know that the playoff football can be close, I guess closer games, but in the NFL all games are close. So you’re grinding and working on this at all times during the year to make sure that you aren’t giving up a big lead, and that you go through your process when you’re down two scores or when you’re up two scores, right?
So there is a formula. We have a formula for everything, right? That doesn’t mean you blindly follow that at all times. You have a formula for everything, and then you got a feel for how the game is going and go off that. It’s very similar to going for it on fourth down or different things like that.
And so we have been thinking about that all year. I think I told you guys I had read a stat that [former NFL head coach] Tony Dungy was unbelievable in being up two scores throughout his career, so I think I told you guys that during one of the weeks that I had reached out to him and wanted to know what was his secret, right? He was generous to share his information and I was very grateful for that.
And then you take all the information that you have and you devise your own plan.
Q. What does S C.J. Gardner-Johnson bring to the practices in terms of his energy? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’m sure someone has told you what he brings there based off that question. Yeah, he’s going to talk. He’s going to talk. He doesn’t just talk to the players, he talks to me sometimes, too. I have to always tell Chauncey, listen, I’m the head football coach. Like I’m for the defense and the offense here.
I know I’m standing over on the offensive side, but you’re over there talking [trash] to me — pardon me – you’re over there talking [trash] to me but I’m on both your guys’ side.
But he brings great energy. He brings great energy to the meeting room, he brings great energy to the football field. What I believe it is, is that he loves the game of football and he truly is out there and enjoying himself, bringing great energy.
I can think back to some of our wins this year as well and celebrating with him on the sideline, hugging him after the game or something like that. It means a lot to me because just the energy he has, the positivity he has, love for the game he has. I’m so pleased that he’s on our team, so happy he’s on our team, so happy that he’s back to health and in here every day.
I told him I missed him when he was gone. I missed him when he was gone. Yeah, he brings a lot of juice and a lot of energy to practice. That’s big time.
Q. How did T Lane Johnson come out of yesterday’s practice and is the expectation that he will play? (Eliot Shorr-Parks)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, he had a good practice yesterday, and we feel good about it. You will see the injury report today. He’s going to go again today, so we’ll see how he gets through today, but we’re really hopeful.
Q. What has your main point of emphasis been when talking to the team to get their mentals where you want them? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: We talked a lot about this week and even last week about what we do well. What do we do well? Coming off a bye week you’re able to think about those things even more so, about what you do well and how are you going to continue to do well through the fundamentals.
You’re always in this because we always think about fundamentals, but it’s just going back to the details of the play and how you want to execute the play, the identity that you want to be.
So it’s really just doubling down on the things that we know are true. That’s something I said too when we were on a losing streak last year. You double down on everything, right? We know that you can mess with schedules, we know that you can adapt your scheme.
There are so many things that you can change to get going in the right direction or to continue in the right direction. But there are these things that you have that are nonnegotiable, that you know to be true. Like the teams that connect the most and the teams that are tight together and they’re tied in together, that play for each other, that love one another, those are usually the better teams.
The teams that compete their butts off no matter the situation that’s going on, no matter if it’s at this basketball hoop, no matter if it’s out on the football field, wherever it is. Those are going to be highly competitive guys when the game is on the line. Accountability, football IQ, fundamentals. So we just double down, and that’s been the message.
Last week as coaches we were able to sit down and really think about what has worked well for us, what’s given us problems, and try to fix those things. But really double down on the on the things that we know work well. So just like you do that on your scheme, you do the same thing on your culture.
Q. Is there one game this year looking back where you feel this team reached its apex that you could use almost as a template? (Merrill Reese)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I think you’re hoping that you continuing to rise to your level of play. I know that, well, hey, we didn’t play our best game versus New Orleans and we lost to Dallas, and then perceived we didn’t play our best game versus the Giants as well.
But what results happen on the field and the way the game turns out doesn’t mean you’re necessarily not growing also. We feel like we’ve continued to get better. I wouldn’t say, hey, we go back — just like we don’t go back and dwell on a loss, we don’t go back and dwell on a win. We just try to keep moving forward.
That’s for you guys to say, ‘Hey, this was your best game. This is what you’re supposed to look like. We know that we’re getting better in here, and it’s not just like we’re getting better because we’re here. No, we are getting better because we practice hard. This team practices hard.
Like I showed a clip of another team in practice the other day. I had practice film of the Chiefs, the Chargers, the Colts, and I showed one. It might have been the Chargers. And I remember one of the quarterbacks goes, this is practice? This guy isn’t going hard. They said that, and he was right. The WILL linebacker wasn’t going hard on that play.
So we work hard in practice, they meet hard in the meeting room, and they walk-through hard. When you do that, you are going to continue to rise. Again, you want it to show on the field at all times, but we know we’re growing because of the way we work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.
And now we’re 17, 18 weeks into this and we should be playing our best football by now because we’re continuing to grow.