Q. When you bring in guys in the middle of the year or into training camp guys that weren’t here initially, we know the football process of getting them extra work, but what about the acclimating them into the culture and the building? How does that process work for you guys? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: First and foremost, you have to get them to learn the system so they’re ready to play. It really works with the people we have in this building. Our players getting excited about the new faces in here and talking to them. That’s the beginning part because it’s all about connecting.
I try to do my part by getting to know the guy a little bit as much as we can, but it is a process — again, it’s the guys that we have in here. Then as we continue on, it’s a process. It’s about being intentional about our core values, mainly connecting, and see how things are working in here. It’s really up to our leaders — and that’s why we’ve got really good leaders to bring these guys in.
Q. What are your first impressions of S Kevin Byard, and what do you think he adds to your team? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, I’ve had a lot of just watching him as a player, being on the other sideline of him when he was in Tennessee and I was in Indy. Obviously as a player, I have a lot of respect there.
Then, I also know some people in the building at Tennessee, and they couldn’t say more good things about him. Very high praise as a player, very high praise as a person, very high praise as a leader.
So, we know we’re not only getting a good player, but also a good person, and that’s exciting because, when you get the right people in here, they’re going to be able to handle the ups and downs of the season. So really excited about that.
We’ll be out in the field today, obviously with walk through, but we’ll be able to hear him communicate and all those different things today and see how he’s picking up the defense.
Q. With the experience that he’s had over the years and everything, do you expect him to be able to make that transition much smoother? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I think so. He’s played in different systems and different ways of doing things. Yeah, I think, again, everything we know about Kevin is — obviously, besides the playing stuff, it’s about how big of a student of the game he is also and then just the type of leader and type of person he is.
Q. When everyone is healthy, you’re going to have a ton of experience in that secondary. What does that give you, beyond the talent? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Obviously the more experience you have, you’ve seen different things, and that’s huge. The different route combinations, the different players in the league. These guys keep a lot of tabs on the players that they play against and the coordinators they play against. So that’s huge in the recognition.
Defensive players, they get paid to stop plays and to stop players. Those two things, he’s had a lot of experience with both, and our defense is going to have had a lot of experience with both.
That experience is really good, but then you also have the mix of some young guys that are out there playing. I thought [CB] Eli [Ricks] did a really nice job, and [CB] Sydney [Brown] did a nice job. It’s a good mixture. Just kind of what we have on the defensive line, a mixture of the young guys and the guys that have been around here for a little bit, and that’s proved to be good. So, we know that will prove to be good in the secondary as well.
Q. What’s QB Jalen Hurts’ status, and I guess what sense do you have of how he is going to manage this going forward? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’ll let you guys ask him about how he’s feeling. We’re confident that he’ll be ready to go, but any time these guys are working through pain and things like that, I mean, they’ve got to — we anticipate him to go, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Again, we’ll see. We’re not going to be out on the field running around today, so I still need a little bit more time. I think he’s feeling better. I’ll let you guys ask him that. We’re hopeful there will be no limitations on Sunday.
Q. You mentioned after the game Sunday night about the tush push creating a first and nine kind of mentality. How far do you kind of push that in terms of the options you have when you’re calling plays? When you guys are sitting around thinking about we know we can do this at any time, we can get this yard any time we want it. How far do you and your coaches and maybe people in the front office think about what else can we do with this? How far can we push our play calling and things we can do because of this play? (Mike Sielski)
NICK SIRIANNI: One thing that happens a lot on this play, it’s not easy to get to third and one, but we’re there quite — I think there’s a lot of attention, when we get on third and one or fourth and one and two, whatever it is, we’re running this play at times, right? So there becomes a lot of attention on it because of the amount of times we’ve done it.
But to get to third and one or fourth and one, that’s not easy in itself, and our guys have done a really nice job of, when we do run this, it’s because they put themselves in position on first and second down and third down sometimes to get to that spot.
I think it’s just the success we’re having on first and second down is putting us in that spot. I’m not sure I’m answering your question.
Q. Let’s say it’s late in the game, and you’re trying to run out the clock, second-and-one. I’m just spit balling here. Would you take a knee to run more time off because you knew at third-and-one or fourth-and-one you could run this play? (Mike Sielski)
NICK SIRIANNI: No, no, I don’t think I’d ever put ourselves in a position to take a knee to do that. Again, it’s not — maybe you get different defenses on second-and-one than you do on third-and-one and fourth-and-one. I don’t think I’d ever do that because — you asked that question, that’s my initial thought on that one.
We’re confident in the play, as you know, and we’re confident that we can — I think the next question you would probably ask is why didn’t you take a shot on third and one? I didn’t know if you were going there.
Again, it’s not like — we trust it and we believe in it, but it’s not this automatic thing. At some points — you know, I’m going to stop answering how I’m answering right now because I feel like I’m giving too much information, but we are confident in the play. I showed a clip today of just the belief our guys had in it. In the TV copy when I called the timeout and told the offense they’re going back on the field, there’s a picture of [CB Darius] Slay going out on the field, and he walks right back and goes and sits down on the bench. He had confidence in it enough to go sit on the bench and know he wasn’t going back in the game on that particular one.
Yeah, the whole organization has confidence in this play.
Q. The vast improvement in the run defense, was that something at the end of last year that you felt needed to be addressed this year? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: You’re always looking at where you are. When you do any sort of self-scout, you look at where you fall in line with the rest of the league and what you can do to improve it and different things like that.
I don’t remember exactly, but I know we were — what were we, like 15, 16, somewhere in there, or 20s? I don’t know. You tell me.
Q. It’s around there. (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: So, you look at those things, and you always want to improve on the things that you feel like you can do better. So, at this point, at this stage in the game, we’re thinking to ourselves, ‘well, we’re 18th in turnover differential. Obviously, no one’s satisfied with that. We want to work at that.’ Well, it’s the same thing with your run defense. It’s the same thing with your red zone offense. It’s the same thing, if you’re not up to par with where you think you should be.
You look at it, and you try to paint the picture of why you’re not where you’re supposed to be. So, yeah, that’s — but also with this new — I don’t want to say system, but with [Defensive Coordinator] Sean [Desai] coming in here, there’s a lot of time spent in that offseason about implementing your scheme and all those different things while still looking at the things you weren’t successful on, even in the year before.
Any time like that, you’re always thinking about that and the emphasis of improving things that appear to be your weakness.
Q. You mentioned QB Jalen Hurts and how he’s feeling — and we’ll talk to him a little bit later — but curious because we don’t get to see QB Marcus Mariota that much. Now that you’ve been with him for a while, what has he shown? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: He’s great in the room. He’s got an ability to really be explosive. I think he’s a weapon with the ball in his hands, and we like the way he goes through progressions and throws the football.
He’s played a lot of football games, and we have the utmost confidence in him that, if he had to step in to play, he’d be ready to go because he’s a pro. He’s been in the system for some time now, and we have confidence that he’d be able to make plays because he’s a playmaker.
Q. Statistically, defenses are playing more zone defense or zone coverage around the league, have you noticed teams doing that against you guys? Why do you think that is? Whether that’s against you or just in general. (Rob Maaddi)
NICK SIRIANNI: You go into each — I don’t look at it [from a big picture view], right? I’m looking at it from this [upcoming] opponent. You notice going into games what they’re playing. So, I guess to say, yeah, I notice that they’re playing a lot of zone, I’m so locked in and focused on the team that we’re playing, I don’t see the big picture like that, in this sense, right?
I see the big picture of the Washington Commanders, but maybe not of the entire league.
As the teams that we played, we’ve played some different, unique defenses where it’s a match type zone and sometimes it’s a zone drop type zone. All zones aren’t completely equal, as you know. You’ve got middle open, two high zones, one high zones where it’s match, one high zones where it’s not match. I mean, there are more zone coverages than man coverages, obviously, right?
I guess, long story short, I don’t see it that way because I’m so locked into the team we’re going to play, and this team does a good job of mixing coverages, both man and zone.
Q. When you brought in guys like WR Julio Jones and also S Kevin Byard, were you able to see last year how much of an effect, having those veteran guys like former Eagles DT Ndamukong Suh and former Eagles DT Linval Joseph, helped out guys like DT Jordan Davis and LB Nakobe Dean? Was that part of the process, as far as bringing these guys in this year, to help out with that? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, you try to think of every scenario, and that’s definitely the benefit of being around an experienced veteran that’s had a lot of success. Maybe your younger guys don’t play as much but they also learn from them.
I think we’ve seen with– Nakobe’s had a good start to the season. Obviously been injured, but he’s had some nice games that he’s played in. [G/C] Cam Jurgens, the games he’s played in, he’s had some nice games. Jordan Davis wasn’t thrusted into the scene last year as much because he had some guys that he was sharing time with.
And you see that all these guys that learn from these guys, and I don’t want to say that always sitting out here is a good thing, but in some cases it is, and in some cases it’s not. What’s important is that they’re learning from the right type of guys, and we just feel like that’s the type of guys we have here. You see it with our offensive and defensive line all the time with the development of those guys. So, it’s the same thing there with the secondary.
Again, Kevin’s going to be doing everything that he needs to do to get acclimated to being ready to play, to knowing his players. But sometimes you can learn from guys, a lot of times you can learn from guys, if you’re being observant without even talking to that guy, you know what I mean, because of the way they go about their business and the way they play the game.
Q. WR Julio Jones, from a size and skill perspective, he’s different than WR Olamide Zaccheaus and WR Quez Watkins, how does that affect the way you use the other receivers on the field? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, you try to do the things that your guys do well and put them in positions to succeed to do well. So that’s learning that through — you know, with Julio, we know he’s been successful in this league for a long time. So, we know he does a lot of things well, but it’s also learning exactly what he does well and being able to put him in on that.
Same thing with O.Z. [Olamide Zaccheaus] and same thing with Quez and [WR] DeVonta [Smith] and [WR] A.J. [Brown] and [TE] Dallas [Goedert], you try to put them in positions to succeed while also, not tipping your hat that, ‘hey, every time he’s here we’re doing this, and every time he’s there, we’re doing that.’
But definitely, when you have a receiver corps, you don’t want everyone to have the same skill set, right? It’s almost like a basketball team. You don’t want five point guards. You don’t want five centers. You don’t want five power forwards. You want guys to be able to do different things so you can attack the field in different ways, right?
We feel like this is a well-rounded room where we have that, and Julio only adds to that. So, we’re excited about the room we have moving forward, and we’ll continue to see how the roles kind of define themselves.