Q. I wanted to rewind to the missed field goal yesterday. After the game there were a couple angles that showed that DT Milton Williams might have gotten a hand on it. I’m wondering if you and your staff were able to review the tape and just your thoughts on the play if he did have an impact on that? (Josh Tolentino)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, we reviewed it. Hard to tell. I’ll ask [DT] Milton [Williams] — those guys had the day off today, and I’ll ask Milton when he gets in if he got his hand on it.
I don’t know because it went pretty straight for a little bit and then it took that right turn, so I’m assuming he didn’t based off the kick’s trajectory and everything like that. But he may have.
There is a clip that somebody sent me of how our sideline reacted after the miss and how the fans in the stadium — I almost said our stadium — in the Arizona stadium, which might as well have been our stadium yesterday, reacted after the kick, and that was pretty cool to watch.
That was a cool video.
Q. QB Jalen Hurts is such a weapon with the ball in his hands, when he gets out on the move, keepers, all that stuff. How do you balance — he’s averaging just under 15 carries per game. I think 7 kneel-downs. It’s a lot, and he’s taken a lot of hits. How do you balance how dangerous he is, what a competitor he is with the ball in his hands, he takes on contact to get that extra yard sometimes? How do you balance that with just trying to be careful and make sure he stays healthy? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: We never want him to take a lot of hits, or any hits really for that matter. Some of those carries too, you’re going to have to calculate in. Like seven of them yesterday were quarterback sneaks, as you guys all saw how we handled a couple of those things yesterday.
Not to say that that’s a safe play for him either, but it’s safer than the other ones in our opinion. But we’re going to do what we need to do to win the football game. One of the things that makes [QB] Jalen [Hurts] a really good quarterback is the ability that he has to throw the ball, read the defenses, and have the ability to move around and make plays.
So, one big reason — you hear me talk about the offensive line every time I talk about our run game, of why our run game is good. Jalen has a huge, huge, influence on the backside of the run game because of his ability to run the ball.
Now, you got to run them for them to respect that, which we obviously do. But why is our run game good? Why did it get going in the second half? It’s still that Jalen demands respect on the back side. I was always taught you win games on the front side, you win championships on the back side. That was always a saying [Colts head coach] Frank [Reich] would say.
So, Jalen does a great job of holding that back side. As far as scrambles, those are going to happen in the game when he thinks that he has a pressure breakdown or nobody was open on the perimeter, he’s got to move and make a play, and you can see he creates — on third down scenarios can create first downs for you with his legs and with his arm.
Q. Is there a benefit long-term to winning games in different ways like we’ve seen from you guys the last few weeks? If so, what is it? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I would love to win every game by a lot. I really would. Those are a lot less stressful. You know you played a good game when you hold them to 7 and you score 30, or whatever it is, right?
But that’s not the reality of this league. You’re going to go through the grind. In fact, more games are going to be like they were yesterday than they were for our first couple games — or for our Washington game or our Minnesota game. There is a heck of a lot more games like yesterday than those couple games.
So, you just like to be able to win any way. You go through it and you’re happy with the win no matter what. You’re dissatisfied with the things that you want to correct. First of all, as coaches, and then secondly as the players.
So, you just try to go through and fix that as you would, but of course there are benefits to winning every way, and you say to yourself, well, we’re going to be in those games more so than not, so it’s good when you win those games obviously.
Q. How is QB Jalen Hurts holding up physically to this point in the season, and what is kind of your philosophy with — he’s obviously serving you guys very well with the run game and the things he brings to the offense, but you want to get him through a season. Where do you come down I guess on how you’re handling it? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, he’s smart with how he takes hits. He’s not going to be able to protect himself completely every single play, but he knows how to not take a hit. I mean, you saw him. He’s really shifty. He ran one yesterday on an empty play, kind of got out of the pocket, and he has the linebacker trying to tackle him.
He sticks his left foot in the ground and then makes a cut, and now that guy that you thought, oh, he was about to get hit, with how shifty Jalen is, he’s about to get hit, he doesn’t take that hit.
So, we trust Jalen. We talk about trusting Jalen, we trust him in those scenarios as well to not take big hits. Again, you’re not going to be completely perfect with that. Jalen is going to be like all our other guys at this point of the year where you’re five games into it, right now your body is not going to feel like it did at the beginning of training camp.
So, he’s just like all our other guys. But are we always trying to be smart with him? Of course. We don’t want to put him in danger. There is a difference between running him recklessly and really going through every play of when he is a running threat and say, ‘Are we putting him in harm’s way?’, which is what we do in each and every case.
If there is something that looks muddy, maybe a ball is going to be able to get spit back into a certain part of the field, we talk about that and say, ‘Is this worth it? Is the eight yards we’re going to gain worth it on this particular one?’ Most likely the answer is no.
So, what you’re seeing are the plays we feel comfortable about. Again, is it going to be perfect? No. But what you’re seeing on Sundays are the plays that we feel comfortable putting him in that scenario.
What you’re not seeing is obviously the ways we’re protecting him when we say scratch that, get that out, move this out, change this guy’s blocking technique here. And I don’t want to get too far into that because I think that would be a competitive advantage if I get too far into this but, change this guy’s blocking technique here to allow him to not take this hit that we don’t want him to.
That is a constant part of our discussion. So, we’re taking a lot of things out, we’re keeping things in that we know we need in our offense, but then also the technique and the fundamentals of guys’ blocking assignments are tweaked to protect him as well.
I think I gave you quite a bit of information. I don’t think I gave too much. I probably need to stop right there.
Q. One of the things QB Jalen Hurts was saying after the game yesterday was he doesn’t want to hear about being 5-0. Obviously, you guys are 5-0, and you will probably be hearing about it this week, especially with Dallas coming in and Sunday Night Football. So, I was wondering a. what that says about Jalen as a competitor, and b. what is your message to the team going into this week against the Cowboys? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Same as it’s always been. We have to go 1-0 this week. To go 1-0 this week, we have to go 1-0 in the day we’re at. To go 1-0 in the day we’re at, we have to be ready with our walk-through and then meetings, whatever we are in at that particular time.
This isn’t Jalen’s first rodeo being 5-0. Probably happened to him every time he was at Alabama; probably happened to him the year he was at Oklahoma, so he understands the next game is the most important one.
That’s exactly what we preach as coaches and our players preach in the sense of, hey, does 5-0 feel good? Yeah. You want 6-0 to happen? Then you better do everything you need to do in that week to ramp up for it. We can’t control what’s happened in the past, we can’t control what’s happening way in the future. All we can control is the moment we’re in now.
So go attack the day and be hungry and humble, and attack the day and let’s get better today in everything that we do.
Q. I know that you can’t get everybody the ball a ton every week, but WR A.J. Brown yesterday, three catches on the opening drive and then no catches the rest of the game. Why was it that that was the way things played out yesterday? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: There are going to be times where — obviously we still have plays called for [WR] A.J. [Brown], right? It wasn’t like, all right, he got us three and this is the week [TE] Dallas [Goedert] gets a lot and this is the week that [WR] DeVonta [Smith] gets a lot.
We have things called for him, and a ball might get batted, which happened yesterday. Or there might be a pressure off the edge and [WR] Jalen [Hurts] is about to step into the throw and make the throw to him and it doesn’t happen.
Somebody might come free on a play that they had too many guys — we didn’t have enough guys in protection, and he has to scramble and make a play. So, there are definitely plays being called for him, and it’s the same thing with DeVonta the first game.
We had a lot things called for DeVonta that first game, five or six things that just didn’t end up getting completed. That’s the way the game goes sometimes.
You always want your receivers and your tight ends and your playmakers to want to get the ball in their hands because that’s one of the reasons why they’re big-time playmakers, is because they crave the ball, they need the ball, they want the ball. So that’s nothing — we know he wants that football, and we have to do whatever we can to get it to him, but sometimes the flow of the game doesn’t allow you to do that.
That’s kind of what happened yesterday. Kind of like — I said it with DeVonta in week one. It was almost like a perfect storm of how it happened, and we didn’t get him the ball, and that’s kind of the same case here.
But make no mistake about it, our pass game runs through those three guys, and that’s what you’re seeing week in and week out. I think A.J. is in the top five in receiving yards, and he’ll continue to be on that because we’ll continue to try to feature him in the pass game.
Q. With you guys playing the Cowboys coming up here, how difficult is it for you guys, the coaching staff, to still do what you want to do but still have to account for Cowboys LB Micah Parsons from wherever, on the edge, the middle… (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: Whatever you do, again, you’re trying to put your players in the best position to succeed, and while you’re doing that, you’re trying not to allow their best players to wreck the game.
So, he’ll be accounted for every single play. That’s doesn’t mean he’s not going to make some plays here and there. He’s a really outstanding, outstanding player. I think we all know that. The league knows that. He’s proved it for the last year and a half.
So, we need to do our jobs as coaches and put the guys in positions to not only be at their best, but also to defeat their best, right, and contain their best. He’ll be thought about.
I think somebody asked me a question about this a long time ago. Hey, did you – [former Chargers Head Coach] Mike McCoy asked me, ‘Did you think about Vaughn Miller today,’ when Frank [Reich] and I were with the Chargers and we were playing the Broncos. ‘Hey, did you think about Vaughn Miller today,’ or ‘Did you think about Khalil Mack today’ when we were playing the Raiders. I can’t remember which one it was, but I said, ‘Everybody in his life didn’t think about him as much as we thought about him today,’ and that’s going to be the same way we roll this week.
Q. The Cowboys are a team that has obviously had the Eagles’ number in recent years. Is beating them specifically kind of a benchmark, that you want to beat this team because they won the division and like I said, they’ve kind of — I don’t want to say owned you guys over the last few years — but they have certainly had your number? (Jimmy Kempski)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think the thing where it’s like, hey, they’ve really controlled this series — because I heard the stat last week, too, about the Eagles never beat the Cardinals since 2001 at Arizona.
We don’t care about that. Unless we’re doing something completely wrong in our preparation for a west coast trip, I don’t care what happens– I loved seeing Donovan McNabb yesterday in that locker room. I was a big fan of his growing up.
What we’re doing this week has nothing to do with what happened in 2001 in Arizona. You know what I’m saying? So, I think — Hey, you guys have a lot of pieces that you have to write, and so I think that’s sometimes in my mind a little bit more about the media angle.
Like, hey, this series has been — this is a whole new year, whole new players. What does [S] Chauncey [Gardner-Johnson] care about what the series have been in the past? What does A.J. — A.J. doesn’t care about that. He’s here to play this week.
We know how big of a game it is because it’s the Cowboys and we know how big of a game it is because it’s the next one and we know how big of a game it is because it’s a division game.
We’re just going to go about our business that way to prepare like we always prepare and leave no stone unturned. So, we don’t get wrapped up in that. The best teams I’ve been on don’t get too wrapped up in all those different things and they go about their business this week to get ready.
Q. Just ask you about the Dallas quarterbacks. I guess at some point we’ll know this week if it’s going to be Cowboys QB Cooper Rush or Cowboys QB Dak Prescott. You prepared for Prescott twice last year. What’s the difference you see between him and Cooper Rush? I’m assuming you studied Cooper Rush at this point, but what are the difference you see between them? (Ed Kracz)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’m still early in my preparation on the offensive side for their defense, right? I haven’t met with [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Jonathan] Gannon yet to think about that. I don’t have a great answer for you at this particular time and I would just be making something up if I did at this point.
I know Gannon has some things that he’s ready with that answer. I need to talk to him still because all my preparation has been on the defensive side so far.
But I will say that Cooper Rush has done an excellent job. I think the perception was like, oh, Dak is hurt and they’re in big trouble. This is a good football team, and this is a well-coached football team with really good football players all over it. So you’re seeing that they’ve weathered the storm, and that speaks a lot of who Cooper Rush is.
I know [assistant quarterbacks/offensive assistant] Alex Tanney was a teammate of his at one point, and I don’t remember where. Maybe the Giants. He speaks really highly of him, and he’s not surprised by his success.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the Cardinals blitzing yesterday. Obviously, you knew they were going to do that. Seemed like there might have been some problems sorting it out at times. It just didn’t seem to go smoothly. What was going on there? What did you see? (Les Bowen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Sometimes what’s going to happen is they’re going to bring one more than you can block. That happens, right? So, you do your best to put your guys in position to go through, give the quarterbacks the answers and the tools to handle it.
They get you sometimes. I didn’t feel like we had a lot of free runners, but when they did have a free runner, it was because they had one more than we could block at the time.
And so, hey, I mean, I’m not great at math, but I know that when we have six to block and they bring seven, they’re going to be able to get home. So, again, you try not to let that happen as much as you can, but you also want to avoid being in seven-man protections at all times, too, because then they don’t do it and then you only have a couple guys out in the route.
So, it’s a fine balance there. I thought the protection was really good yesterday. It’s more of a coaching thing when a guy comes free in my opinion, right? So, when we have free rushers, to me that was on us. I don’t think it happened a lot.
But [QB] Jalen [Hurts] did a good job of trying to get us out of it. They got us a couple times, right, and we got them a couple times with some of things we did to them.
That’s a give and take. You never want to let anybody get near the quarterback. It does happen sometimes, and we’ll work like crazy to limit that.
Q. Did you get the hot reads on those? Did you get the ball to people you thought you needed to? (Les Bowen)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think there was probably a lot said about that we threw a lot of screens yesterday. Sometimes that is true, but sometimes it is the hot read that we’re getting out of a bad play when we throw it over there, right?
The only guys that know if it’s a screen or a hot is really us as coaches a lot of the times, and players. So sometimes that’s happening.
I think [QB] Jalen [Hurts] did a good job getting the ball out of his hands. Again, did they get us a couple times? Sure. Did we get them a couple times? Yes. It was a good back and forth there.
We’ll be ready for that, and different teams present different challenges with that.
Q. You have spoken a lot about the need to protect the football and not turn it over obviously. QB Jalen Hurts has only thrown two interceptions so far this season; hasn’t lost a fumble yet. How far did he have to come in that regard? Was that something he was already inclined to be good at at protecting the football, or did you have to work with him the past year or two? (Mike Sielski)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think he was always inclined. I think every coach has that engrained in him. Every coach, right, from high school to college to professional. Like, hey you win and lose games by protecting football. [QB] Jalen [Hurts] growing up with a dad that was a high school football coach, he was probably teaching him. I’m teaching my son how to carry the ball already, so he probably was taught the same things and how important that is in the game.
I think he has that innate reaction to knowing how important it is to protect the football, but of course, like anything, we’re trying to master the fundamentals of how to protect the football. So, him going through reads the way he’s going through reads, that helps protect the football because he doesn’t expose himself to as many hits when he is in the pocket and if he holds onto the ball.
So, he’s developing there in the sense of he’s just getting faster and faster making these reads because he’s seeing more and more.
And then how he carries it when he breaks the pocket is really important as well. So, we’re constantly on him on the fundamentals. He understands how important it is to take care of the football, and he has done a great job with his fundamentals of when he is carrying the football.
That’s no different than how we coach [RB] Miles [Sanders] or how we coach [WR] DeVonta [Smith] or [WR] A.J., [Brown] or [TE] Dallas [Goedert]. So, it’s always about the fundamentals of how we take care of the football. We can talk about it until we’re blue in the face, we can talk about how important it is to protect the ball.
If we’re just saying, ‘Hey, protect it’, and they’re just saying, ‘Oh, hey, we got to protect it’, then there is no real teaching going on there. It’s about how you protect it.
One of my least favorite coaching points that anyone says is, ‘Hey, catch it.’ Well yeah, we want to catch it. Why did he drop it? Then go from there and make the fundamental corrections.
It’s the same thing with, ‘Hey, protect the football.’ Well, how do you want me to do that? So that’s what’s the most important part of our job, and then the important part of players’ job, understanding the fundamentals of how to do it.
Jalen does a good job of that.