Q. After having a chance to look over tape, how would you officially assess the way that QB Gardner Minshew played and what do you have to do to make him right to put him in positions so he can succeed? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think we didn’t play well enough as an offense in total, right? That’s never on just one guy. We didn’t coach well enough. We didn’t put the guys in good enough positions to make plays. When you score 10 points, there’s a lot of blame to go around and it starts with me. We didn’t put the guys in good enough spots to help them make plays and we have to do a better job of that.
[QB] Gardner [Minshew] played a fantastic game, in my opinion, against the Cowboys. Up to his standard, if you ask him, he’s probably going to say he wanted a lot of plays back in this game.
Again, we have to help him be in a better spot to make plays. I’ll take responsibility for the interception. We came back to a play that we had run earlier in the game, and they recognized it, and they made a play off of it. We gave them a recognizable formation and they made a play off of it. We put them in a tough spot right there.
I think that’s obviously a major turning point in what people envision Gardner’s game being. They’ll put a lot of that on that play.
But I’m accepting responsibility for that. That’s on me. We put him in a tough spot right there.
Q. I actually want to go back to that pick-six. WR A.J. Brown was on social media today defending his effort on the play. He explained that it was, given that look, his route became dead. Wonder what his responsibility on that play was? Were you pleased and content with the level of effort? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: The responsibility on that play, again, I’ll go back to [it’s] my own [responsibility]. We were in a three-by-one formation. We shifted the guy up to the line of scrimmage, on to the right side, putting us in a four-by-one. That’s a very recognizable formation. A good corner made a play, with a smart safety on the other side, with 32 and 23 over there. They recognized it. [Saints Head Coach] Dennis Allen is a good coach. He recognized it. They had made an adjustment. They made a play.
I’ll never question our guys’ effort. [WR] A.J. [Brown] gives it up for his teammates all the time, every time. So, I’m never going to question [effort]. This is not a team where I’ll ever question our effort because I know how hard these guys go for each other and how hard they go because they’re prideful guys.
Again, going back to that, that’s my responsibility. That’s why they got the interception.
Q. What can you tell us about the progress that QB Jalen Hurts and S C.J. Gardner-Johnson have made sort of behind the scenes? With Gardner-Johnson, how much has he been able to do on the physical side as he comes back from this injury? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, they’re both getting better every day because they work hard at it. They work their butts off to do what they can do. [S] Chauncey [Gardner-Johnson] is a little bit harder to do anything much in there because it’s his body healing.
[QB] Jalen [Hurts] has done all the rehab. He’s always in there working. I know they’re getting better each day as far as what they’ve done because of who they are, how they’re rehabbing, how our trainers and our doctors and our strength coaches help them out because we have top-notch guys right there. They’re all a little bit better than what they were even yesterday.
Obviously, we’re just waiting to see how they feel, continue throughout the week, to see what their status will be for this week.
Chauncey, as far as what he’s been able to do, again, you have to rest that. That’s not something that you can be there and do a lot with. But with these last two weeks, he has been able to ramp it up.
When it is time for him to go, he’ll be ready to go physically, not just the injury healed I’m saying, but physically be ready to go. So, he’s worked really hard at that the last couple weeks, but he did have to take it easy early on because that was part of the healing process for him.
Q. On QB Jalen Hurts’ shoulder, when he is cleared to come back, is your understanding that his shoulder will be at full strength, he’ll have normal torque and velocity on his throws when that tie does come for him to be back? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Obviously, everything is taken into play as far as when he’s ready to come back. We’re going to want him, first and foremost, we are always going to want him to be healthy enough to not put himself at danger. That’s first and foremost. But then also so he can perform at a high level, as well.
When you’re talking about throwing the football with an injured shoulder, it’s a little different than some other injuries I guess to say. He has to be able to throw the ball down the field. He has to be able to throw it accurately. He has to be able to throw it with velocity so he can be effective as a quarterback.
Q. When he’s cleared, is the expectation that the arm is going to be at full strength? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think it will be a both and. One, he’ll be healthy where we’re not putting him at risk, and two, he should be able to throw is the expectation, yes.
Q. Sticking on QB Jalen Hurts, you’ve talked about how much he wants to be out there. After the loss yesterday, what was his reaction? Has he said anything to you over the past 24 hours about really wanting to get back? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I know [QB] Jalen [Hurts] wants to get back. That’s been his message to me ever since this happened. It’s hard to keep him down because of how tough he is, the kind of competitor he is. He wants to go.
These last 24 hours I haven’t talked to him. I’ve been kind of dragging myself through the mud, trying to get it right on my end. Jalen and I haven’t had a conversation since yesterday. Obviously, he’s disappointed like we’re all disappointed walking out of that stadium yesterday.
Jalen is an ultimate competitor, tough. Yeah, he’s just as disappointed as we all are.
Q. You said QB Jalen Hurts was close. What did you base that on? If he was close, why didn’t he get more practice repetitions? QB Gardner Minshew said he took all of them last week. (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: I guess we played that pretty right then for [QB] Gardner [Minshew] to get all the reps since he’s the one who played.
He was close. I based that off the doctors and what [QB] Jalen [Hurts] is telling me essentially. I’m listening to all the people that give me the information on those particular things, and that’s why we were saying it.
Obviously, you have to be able to go out there and practice in individual, which is obviously closer than what he was the week before, doing individual, throwing the balls.
But, yeah, he didn’t get reps last week at practice.
Q. When you said you’re right in having QB Gardner Minshew take all the practice reps, what do you mean by that and is that typically what you want because you don’t want guys splitting reps? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: [QB] Gardner [Minshew] took the reps, and I guess we were right by that by saying [QB] Jalen [Hurts] wasn’t quite ready to play yet.
Q. How much of a believer are you in momentum heading into the playoffs? Obviously, the context being that you have lost two in a row. With the game coming up against the Giants, how much do you believe you guys need a pretty big win in order to get rolling into the playoffs? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: I just want to make sure we’re improving as a football team. I thought the defense played a really good game yesterday. I thought the offense played a good game the week before. You never want to take dips in your improvement, right? You want to continue to go at an upward level. That’s what you want. That’s what you’re trying to get out of this.
Now, obviously it’s the National Football League and that does happen here and there. We just want to go out there and play a good game obviously, this next game, play to our abilities and coach to our abilities.
As far as momentum, I don’t really think about that stuff really too much. I just want to go out and perform that day. I think that’s kind of been my message to the team and to you guys at all times. You’re just trying to work on the day at hand, right? Try to go 1-0 each day so you can go 1-0 that week, then you worry about the next week later and the momentum of the next week later.
It’s not something that I think a lot about to be quite honest with you.
Q. When you look at the defense, their worst drive was the first drive of the game. It was the only offensive touchdown the Saints scored. Offensively they started with four straight three-and-outs. When you look at the big picture, it seemed like both sides of the ball were flat to start the game. Did you sense that? Do you ever sense that before a game? Is there any way you can get guys out of that morass if you feel that happening? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think if you sense that, then of course you’d go to the extremes to say and do whatever you need to do to fix it because you want to start fast, as always. I didn’t sense that. How do you get them out of that if you do sense that? You kind of have to snap everybody into it.
What our message was at halftime was, and I kind of went to every group and said this, I said it to the locker room, ‘We couldn’t have played much worse than we just played, and we’re down 13-0. We got a chance to be able to go win this thing, even with how bad we played, so let’s just get going and go.’
That’s what I said at halftime. I tried to say that a little bit before halftime as well but, yeah, didn’t sense that going in. If I would, if I had the right thing to say there, I definitely would have said it had I sensed that.
To your point, we definitely didn’t start the way we wanted to start. We definitely started flat, as you said.
Q. Just to kind of button up the interception I wanted to ask you, obviously you and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen can’t come up with the perfect call each time. Is there any sort of teaching point to that particular play? Also, DE Josh Sweat, if you’ve got an update? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: I know you saw [DE] Josh [Sweat] was released and everything yesterday. We’ll take Josh one day at a time. I’m just really thankful that it wasn’t more serious there. I know everybody in that stadium was holding their breath because any time that stretcher comes out, that’s tough to deal with.
Josh was saying, ‘Hey, just let me get up, I can get up,’ this and that. The doctors obviously in that scenario have to make sure they go through all the right channels.
I felt a little bit more at ease because of what Josh was saying out there. [DT Fletcher] Fletch [Cox] and him were having conversations. He kind of had his head down, Fletch was [saying], ‘Josh, you okay? Sweaty, you okay?’ They were talking back and forth which really put me in a calmer state of just the conversation.
I share that because of how good of a leader Fletch is, and the relationship that they have together. It was really cool to see while Josh was laying in a situation where obviously no player wants to be in. You could just see that he was there for him.
[In terms of the teaching point on the interception] As [Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] and I watched it together this morning, as we watched it as a staff, we just kind of said to each other, ‘Hey, this is too recognizable of a formation to come back to. If we do come back to that recognizable formation like that, we need to do something else potentially off of it.’ That’s what we said to ourselves.
We said, ‘Hey, this is on us.’ Just like what I said to you guys, that’s where accountability starts. Accountability doesn’t start by us as coaches saying to the players, ‘This is what you have to do better.’ It’s part of it, but accountability is everybody looking in the mirror and saying, I screwed this up or I screwed that up. That’s what’s an important part of process, to say, ‘This is what I screwed up, and this is what I’m going to do to fix it with this type of detail,’ and not protect anything, just let everything be out there.
We don’t share everything with you guys. You guys know that. That’s just the way it is. Some things do stay in-house. But the first thing you do is you have to drag yourself through the mud first and have the hard conversations with yourself and have the hard conversations with staff of what we did to have 10 points, to score only 10 points, when we were coming off of averaging, whatever, 38 a game for the last five games.
That’s what I love about this building, is that everybody can and everybody does look themselves in the mirror first, and there’s no protection mode. It’s just like, ‘Hey, here’s what I got to do to make sure we’re reaching our potential.’
I let you in on all that conversation, that’s really what it was. I take full responsibility for that call. That’s on me.
Q. If you think back to week 18 last season, you were in the same spot that the Giants are in now. What made you choose the path that you did and what do you anticipate the Giants doing this weekend? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: I can’t anticipate the Giants. Again, I can only control what I can control. That’s always been my message to the team of control what you can control, spend your mental energy on the things that are worth your mental energy.
What went into it last year for us was that’s what we felt, really simple as this, that’s what we felt was best for us. Obviously, we didn’t win the next game, but we felt like that was what was best for us as a football team with some of the bumps and bruises we were dealing with at that time to make sure that we were healthy and fresh to go to Tampa. That’s what went down with our decision.
Again, not trying to not answer your question, I really do believe this. I have to worry about the things that I can control and that are worth my mental energy to make sure that I’m putting our team in the best position to win this game and to win this division.
Q. If DE Josh Sweat does miss some time here, how do you view the edge rusher depth behind him? Is DE Robert Quinn getting closer to a return? (E.J. Smith)
NICK SIRIANNI: He’s definitely getting better. Again, for me to say right now that he’s going to play or not play is not fair to anybody. So, he’s getting better. He’s worked his butt off to get better. I love the depth that we have there. Obviously, Josh Sweat is the player who he is. You’re always going to miss a player of his caliber because he’s such a high-quality football player and high-quality person. You’re always going to miss that.
Someone shared a stat that we were the first team ever to have four guys with over 10 sacks, so I’m feeling pretty good about our depth at that position, which is pretty amazing. As an offensive coach, you always look at the stats of guys who are up there on their pressures and on their sacks. I’ve never seen a team that has four guys of it because it’s the first time it’s ever happened.
I’m not sure the last time I looked up and saw three guys were on it. I know some of those teams that we used to play against in the AFC West when I was with the Chargers, you had [former Kansas City Chiefs LB] Tamba Hali, [former Kansas City Chiefs LB] Justin Houston, they were always over 10 sacks. The third guy was [former Kansas City Chiefs LB] Frank Zombo and I don’t remember him being over 10 sacks. No offense to him because I think he was a really good player.
I think about the Broncos had [LB] Von Miller, they had [LB] DeMarcus Ware, and I couldn’t tell you who their third guy was.
Anyway, my point is I feel great about the depth, wishing Josh a speedy recovery. But our defensive line has done a phenomenal, phenomenal job. Great job by our defensive coaches. [Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers coach] Coach [Jeremiah] Wash [Washburn], [Defensive Line coach] Coach [Tracy] Rock [Rocker], [Defensive Assistant coach] Coach [Tyler] Scudder, obviously [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Jonathan] Gannon of just putting those guys in positions to succeed, then those guys going out there and executing at a very, very high level. That’s something that no one’s ever done before. That’s special.