Nick Sirianni

Q. It’s always a bit of an unknown how a new player will acclimate to your culture and your team. With S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, what was the process of evaluating him, and what have you found in the ways that he has kind of fit in with you guys? (Tim McManus)

NICK SIRIANNI: He’s obviously a great player and great playmaker and is able to take the football away. I think one common denominator of why he fits in well with us is because he loves football and he loves to compete.

He’s always looking for ways to get better. He just wants to put his best foot on the field every time he goes out there, and he’s a highly, highly competitive guys. All of our guys — we feel like that was a prerequisite to get on the team, was being highly competitive.

So, they have that in common. And it’s good to see him fitting in and making plays.

Q. Last year you guys had a late bye week and this year it’s a lot earlier. How much does that affect the way you plan your schedule, and what’s the schedule like for you, the players and the coaches? (Chris Franklin)

NICK SIRIANNI: Similar process through everything. Now there are going to be less things to watch, right, because there are less games. But similar process. I think as you go through every year that I’ve been in the NFL, I’ve really looked at everybody’s process that I’ve worked for, what’s this guy’s process and this guy’s process as far as our head coaches and try to take a little bit from each guy and figure out what I think is the best.

We’ll do a similar process that we did last year. There have already been a couple studies that as we watched yesterday’s game, a couple studies that I wanted done from our offensive staff that weren’t on last year’s agenda, because they’re different year, different issues, different year, different things to study. There are all these different things.

We’re going to work like crazy this week. This is a great week. Today was all about the game review. This evening is about the coaches doing their self-scout projects and other projects I gave them. Tomorrow will be us reviewing those, and then we’ll get started on our next opponent on Wednesday and finish some of the self-scout on Wednesday as well.

Then we’ll see where we are at on Thursday, and if I’m feeling generous, maybe the guys will have the day off.

Q. When you are undefeated like this, do you have to dig deeper to find those areas of improvement? For you, what’s kind of at the top of the list here over the next week? (Dave Zangaro)

NICK SIRIANNI: Again, still going to be looking through that. That will kind of expose itself as we look at the self-scout.

You kind of go in with a couple different things, right? You go in with a general thing of what you want to look at, where you are successful, where you aren’t successful, so that will kind of tell the story.

Then it will lead to other projects as we watch these things. Then there are a couple areas we are looking at right now that we want to improve on. So, we’ll look at that.

There are always things to work on, right? Always things to work on. So, I actually think that we can be even more demanding and more crazy about, you know, what the standard is when you are 6-0.

I think being 6-0 is awesome, but I think you can put your foot on everybody and say, ‘You like this? This feel good?’ All right, then we got to keep going and really dive in even harder.

It’s not to say you don’t do that when you’re 0-6 or 2-5, or whatever, but it’s just easier to really get after everything because I think there is no feelings are involved when you’re 6-0. It’s like, hey, let’s go. This isn’t good enough, and let’s get it better.

So, yeah, looking forward to the process this week.

Q. I think last night you said that you guys haven’t played a complete game yet this season. What does that look like to you, and how close do you think you guys are to playing such a game? (Martin Frank)

NICK SIRIANNI: It’s just finishing the game. Again, it’s not — here is what makes it hard to play a complete game. A team that’s really good on the other side, right? That’s a good football team, as we know.

So, yeah of course we were up 20-3 at the half and would’ve loved to just duplicate that and won the game 40 to 6, but in the grand scheme of things that’s hard to do.

The second half is played a little bit differently, so you want to — you just want to finish the game. I think there is no doubt, right, that if we have good first halves and that the second halves, whether the defense has held them and the offense hasn’t scored or whatever it is, we haven’t played a complete game in the sense of we haven’t really blown open a game when we have had two-score leads.

From what I understand, I believe we’ve had two-score leads in every game this season, and so you want to just be able to end a game and put a game away. I think that’s what we’re talking about, is to just really finish the game and put it away.

Things change the way you view things in the second half sometimes when you do have these leads but you always want to be aggressive and always want to put points on the board, and we haven’t done that.

We’ll look at that as coaches and see what we’re doing as coaches, how we can put our guys in better positions to do that.

Q. Curious about the turnovers. You guys have been so good both taking it away and taking care of the football. Obviously, you preach that as a coach all the time. Can you put your finger on one or two things why this team has been so successful? And especially when you have a quarterback that runs the football and is able to take care of the football like QB Jalen Hurts does. (John McMullen)

NICK SIRIANNI: [QB] Jalen [Hurts] has done a great job knowing where to go with the football as far as the passing and not putting the ball at risk.

So that’s huge, right? We made a mistake in the Jacksonville game. Like I told you, to me, Jalen has two picks by stats, but if the coaches could get a pick, I would get the pick for the one that went off [RB] Kenny [Gainwell]’s hands. That’s on me. I didn’t feel great about that play quite yet and the timing of that play, and I put the ball at risk on that one. I wish I had a stat for that. So that’s huge.

Then where do a lot of fumbles come from? A lot of fumbles come from strip sack fumbles. As you can see, [LB] Haason Reddick has done this year and [DE] Brandon Graham and what they’ve done there.

So that’s helped by having really good tackles in [T] Lane [Johnson] and [T] Jordan [Mailata] and [T/G] Jack Driscoll coming in and playing good minutes, and [T] Andre [Dillard] being ready to go.

So that’s where that comes in. It’s truly a full team effort. It’s the emphasis of the fundamentals of ball security that we preach on a daily basis. Okay, so we preach it on a daily basis. We talk about it on a daily basis. If you’re carrying a ball around our facility, we don’t care who you are, we’ll tell you that it wasn’t good enough.

I think [Philadelphia 76ers player Joel] Embiid was playing catch on the sideline yesterday and there were a couple things I didn’t like about his ball security. I would’ve said something to him.

You can’t be around this facility and not be coached about how the ball is. Ultimately, the player has to go out and do it and the guys that have touched the ball the most for us, [RB] Miles Sanders has been phenomenal with this so far this season. And it’s a long season. We’ve got to keep going. Miles has had great fundamentals. Those guys are stripping at it hard.

We’ve added a couple new drills to our repertoire and things like that, but Miles went out there – I’d look at Miles first and foremost. Him and Jalen touch the ball the most, carry the ball the most and Miles has just done an outstanding job. When your guys that are touching the ball the most are most fundamentally sound and taking care of it the best, then everybody else is going to fall into line.

And then I think about [TE] Dallas [Goedert] and [WR] A.J. [Brown] and [WR] DeVonta [Smith]. They touch the ball a lot. We told them today, they’re going to start seeing they can’t get it off Miles, they’re going to be coming after you. We had a couple loose things with them the other day and we’re telling them, hey, button it up. This isn’t good enough.

It’s high, high praise when it’s the right way and it’s correction when it’s the wrong way. That’s the only way we know how to coach. Make no mistake about it, it’s those just players making unbelievable plays with the ball in their hands with supreme ball security. And then A.J. gets the ball in his hands and guys are really concerned about getting him down because he’s hard to tackle. He’s a big man.

They can’t strip him because they got to go try to tackle him, and that’s a little bit of Dallas too, and really that’s a little bit of DeVonta, too because DeVonta he’s got so much wiggle with the ball in his hands.

Man, and then [Running Backs/Assistant Head Coach] Jemal Singleton does a great job teaching the ball security to our entire group, so glad he’s our running back coach. He’s got that Air Force Academy background in him and he’s all business when it comes to that football.

He’s on all our guys about that as well. [Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] is on those guys about that. I know you see Shane with the boxing glove out there trying to knock it out. It’s been a great team effort and that’s why this is the ultimate team game.

Q. What’s your level of concern with the special teams, particularly the punt and kickoff units? (Jeff McLane)

NICK SIRIANNI: The punt and kickoff units. My level of concern is low. I think when you look at the stats of our punt and kickoff units now, obviously no one is pleased about the 62-yard return that set up three-points for them. That can’t happen. We need to do a better job right there.

We had some guys in position. We had one guy that was out of position, and it ended up costing us there. That can happen when you’re — again, the ultimate team game. One guy gets out of position, and it affects everybody else.

Going into that game our coverage units were pretty good. I think we were 5th in punt return, right now — or pardon me, punt coverage. We were 5th in covering punts and now we’re 11th, so we had a little bit of a slip last game. I believe we were in the top 10 of covering kickoffs and now we’re 14th. So, we are 14 and 11th, middle of the pack right there on that.

But we want to be better on those and not give up the play. But you’ve got to look at the total body of work. It’s never just one play, ever. Right?

You look at that last week, Arizona didn’t lose that game just because that guy missed that kick. There were so many other things that happened. If we lose a game in a certain situation because somebody turns the ball over or misses a play, it’s never just one play.

I think you also got to look at what happened on the kickoff coverages yesterday. We forced them to hold us two times that backed them up into bad areas. On a kickoff return they ended up starting inside the ten, and then on a punt return the same thing happened.

And then [LB] Nakobe Dean, they had a huge hit — was that to start the game? Yeah, to start the game for the second week in a row, [S] Reed Blankenship last week had a huge hit to start the game and set the tone of what the physicality of that game was going to be.

And then Nakobe Dean did the same thing in this game. And it started with [LB] Shaun Bradley pressing the guy off him and getting in the lane of the guy and [LB] Patrick Johnson being right there and then Nakobe Dean coming in and cleaning that thing up.

We’ve got good special teams play from [WR] Zach Pascal who was our player of the week last week, Nakobe Dean who was the player of the week yesterday. I believe in the coaches that we have there. I believe in the players that we have there. Is 14 and 11 where we want to be? No. We want to be in the top 10 in everything.

We’ll work on getting back to that point as the bye week comes and as we continue on.

Q. You mentioned the second halves and it really has become almost like a personality of your team at this point. As you said, every game a two-score lead, and then at least three of the games things have gotten really dicey. Have you looked at or do you plan to look at during the bye week what you do at halftime and whether other teams are making better adjustments than you guys are? I guess when things are going great there is not a lot of focus on adjustments at halftime. Is that a factor in this? Does it explain anything last night? Does anything explain anything last night? How things flipped in the third quarter? (Les Bowen)

NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, everything is evaluated. Good question. Everything is evaluated and we will definitely evaluate this as well. We have different ways that we go about halftime, and you’ve got these different tools in your pocket. It’s kind of like when you’re in pass protection or in a run game. ‘Okay, if they do this, this tool is in my pocket or if they do this, this tool is in my pocket.’ You have the same thing in your openers and you’re developing what your openers are. You got different tools in your pocket.

It’s the same thing at halftime. That could be, ‘Hey, I’m going to script out plays to start the second half on a Thursday or a Friday’. That’s one thing. Or you could start off the second half a certain way. Maybe it’s no-huddle or whatever, a certain personnel grouping, or it’s, you gather the information at halftime, and you try to make the necessary adjustments there.

So, there’s different tools we have in our pocket, and we’ve just got to keep trying different tools to get it going. I think what’s happened in the second half a little bit has just been we’ve drove the ball decently or got a big play to start things off, and then we stall out.

Now, we’re not a highly penalized team right now. I think somebody told me that we had 60 penalties last year after six games and we have 37 after six games this year. So, I don’t want to say it’s that. One other thing that I think about the second half is we’ve had some long drives in the second half, particularly the last two weeks where we really established the run game. An eight-minute drive, nine-minute drive at Arizona, or a seven-minute drive this last one.

There is a difference when you are up two scores. Again, you always want to be aggressive and end the game. When you are up two scores or three scores, whatever it is, there is a little bit of a difference of you’re trying to make the game go as fast as possible at that time.

Now, that doesn’t mean any less aggressive, so we’ve got to figure it out. That’s our job as coaches, to figure it out. Again, we have been around good coaches ourselves, we have good philosophies, and we got to figure out what tool is going to work to help us get over that hump and completely finish a game.

We’re frustrated by that too and we want to finish a game up those three scores. I know I don’t want to put my dad in that situation where he has to sweat through that game. I can handle it right now, but I don’t want my dad to have to handle it. We’ve got to do a better job there, and we’ll work like crazy to do so.

Q. I guess a two-part question: So many new pieces on your defense when you look at CB James Bradberry and LB Haason Reddick’s and S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, LB Kyzir White, DT Jordan Davis. At what point did you have a sense that all those new pieces would come together and play as a unit and what went into that? It kind of seems like they’ve been playing longer than just six games together. (Reuben Frank)

NICK SIRIANNI: I think this team works to connect a lot, and it’s through different ways. I think that we have really good team leaders, and I think about when [DT] Jordan [Davis] was drafted, one of the most excited guys about that was [DT] Fletcher Cox.

I think about when [CB] James Bradberry was signed, the guy who was most excited about that was [CB Darius] Slay. You have these guys that know, hey, to be good you’re going to have to have good players and good pieces there and then just welcome them in. That’s why Fletch and Slay are captains. And all the guys are like that. All the captains are like that.

I just really want to single out those two guys and BG [DE Brandon Graham] for that matter with Haason. They welcome them. I don’t talk about this enough because I think Slay is one of the best team leaders I’ve ever been around. It may not always be a vocal thing. It’s just by his actions. If one of his teammates needs extra work on the side as far as getting extra reps or getting the technique down at the corner play, Slay is there working with them.

Doesn’t matter if it’s [CB] Zech [McPhearson], his backup, or if it’s [CB] Mac McCain [III], a practice squad guy, Slay is there to help him.

If a guy needs a car or something — because Slay has done this, Slay’s car is lent to the guy to make sure — I mean, this guy is an unbelievable leader, it’s not just on the football field. If a guy needs a place to go for Thanksgiving, Slay had the guys over to his house last year. It’s the leadership.

You hear me talk a lot about the [C] Jason Kelce leadership and the Brandon Graham leadership, and this is a good opportunity. You asked me about how the defense is doing and how the secondary is coming together, and Slay is a big part of that because he’s just such a good leader.

We have great leaders on this team that know what it takes to get to the top. It’s not the best group of individuals that wins championships. It’s not the best group of individuals that wins games. It’s the best team, right? These guys work like crazy to do so.

Slay is right at the top of the list. I could brag on him forever about how good of a leader he is. His play speaks for itself, but I could brag on him for a long time about how good of a leader he is and what he means to this team and how excited I am that he has that C on his chest and how excited I am for him and this team that he has that C on his chest.

Q. More specifically from a football standpoint, just how all those new pieces came together on the field? (Reuben Frank)

NICK SIRIANNI: You know what, Reub? I know what you meant and that’s how I answered it, because it’s more than football. It is. To be on the same page on the field and make plays together, things have to work in unison. For things to work in unison, there has to be this connectivity.

Like that motivation I talked about is real. I don’t want to let my teammate down, so I’m going to work a little bit harder because that guy, that Slay guy there is doing everything he can do for me to get me better and I don’t want to let him down.

I knew what you meant, and I really do believe that it is that closeness of this team. That’s what makes me excited about this team, is that they just keep coming together and keep coming together and want to succeed for each other and play for each other.

Q. The flip side of the second half is the second quarter. You guys are at a historic pace right now. What is your theory or explanation for what is happening in the second quarter in particular this season? (Zach Berman)

NICK SIRIANNI: I don’t quite know, Zach. [Jokingly] If I knew that I would duplicate that in the third quarter and then Les [Bowen] would stop asking me about that.

So, I wish I knew. The guys are doing a good job in that second quarter, whether it’s weathering the storm like against Jacksonville or if it’s just figuring out the different personnel groupings and how they’re playing them and making plays in the second quarter.

There is no doubt, we’ll look at that this week and see what is up there. We’ll try to duplicate that as much as possible.

Q. Do you have an update on T Lane Johnson, and does the fact that you guys have so much depth along the offensive line and you’re 6-0 play any role at all in determining when he might come back? (Mike Sielski)

NICK SIRIANNI: I don’t have an update on Lane. We need Lane Johnson because Lane Johnson is the best at his position in the NFL. In the world.

If Lane is healthy, we’ll play Lane. But I don’t have an update on Lane quite yet.

Q. After a primetime game like that last night, what is your routine when you get home? How much sleep do you get before you come back into the office? After that, how important do you feel like sleep is for the coaching staff this week? (Bo Wulf)

NICK SIRIANNI: I think this week with the bye I think it’s very important that we catch up on sleep, but still get the necessary work done to grind to make sure that we know — we look at the bye week last year and how beneficial it was for us to figure out some things. Really to me it was the mini bye on the Thursday night where we really figured out some things and were able to start to get an identity there.

So that’s important. It’s an important part of the process is the bye week, but we definitely need that rest. We’ve been doing that with our guys. We’ve been starting a little bit later. Now we work a little bit later at night, but we’ve been sleeping in a little bit later to make sure that our guys are rested.

We have been starting an hour later this past month because of different circumstances, whether it was a Monday night game to start things off or a west coast trip. We’re seeing that working out well for us as far as our energy levels, the way our minds are working. Everything is being evaluated.

As far as last night it’s always hard to go to sleep after, right? It’s hard to go on this ride of what we were on yesterday and all the ups and downs of that and the highs and lows and the adrenaline pumping and try to go to sleep after that.

It’s like having ten cups of coffee and then going to sleep. Even though I don’t drink coffee, it’s like how do you do that? So sometimes you just sit there in bed and think about things. I know yesterday, and I know my wife doesn’t like me doing this, but I woke up my son and was just like, ‘Hey, how was that baseball tryout?’ He had a baseball tryout. He was like, ‘Good. I really want to make the team, daddy.’ I said, ‘I want you to make it, too.’ He said, ‘Did we win?’ I said, ‘You know we won.’

I woke him up. I shouldn’t have done that. He had school today. We sat there and talked about the game for a second. It’s hard to go to sleep because you’re excited. You’re thinking about the things that you could have done better.

I know that’s the part of the process that is necessary that you have to go through to make sure you’re getting better. It’s not the most fun part of the process, but it’s a necessary part of the process.