Q. Can you give us an update on K Jake Elliott and some of the other guys, and then T Andre Dillard’s situation? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, still hopeful that all these guys can play. We’re taking it day by day, though. You’ll have an injury report later today.
They’re all working their butts off to try to play. I know that, and the trainers, our athletic training room is doing a great job of rehabbing. They’re doing a great job of doing everything they can do to get ready to go, and we’ll see what happens.
Obviously we’re a couple days away, but we’ll be ready if guys can’t go, but hopefully they can.
Q. How about T Jordan Mailata specifically? I know he was scheduled to have some MRIs. Any light you can shed on long term? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, like I said, with him too, hopefully he can play this week. But he’s working. He’s been doing a ton of things with our trainers to get as healthy as he possibly can to go, and we’re hopeful.
Q. Is RB Boston Scott in that group, too? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, so same thing with him. He’s worked really hard. I know he obviously missed last week, but he’s worked really hard to get back to a point where we can feel possibly that he can go.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the practice schedule. Last year you started doing Wednesday walk-throughs kind of maybe two thirds of the way through the season. Doing that today, is this going to be a regular thing or is it a feel week by week? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: No, it’s a feel thing. As you guys know, as you guys were asking me, we had some bumps and bruises in that game. Hey, we do what we feel is best for our guys. We did it after the Monday night game on a short week. We did it here. We’ll do it later in the year. We’re not into that mode yet as far as that goes. It was just a feel for hey, we’ve got some guys banged up; it would be good to get them another day’s rest while working their minds really hard today with meetings and walk-through.
Q. With T Andre Dillard, do you think there’s a chance he might be able to play on Sunday if he has to? (Ed Kracz)
NICK SIRIANNI: You know, just because we open the window doesn’t necessarily mean — obviously we’re to a point where we want to get him out there and practice, but he’s different than the other guys in the sense of he’s got to get into football shape. He’s been out of the game for the last month. He’s got to get himself in a position where he can be able to play.
So there’s a little bit more — I don’t want to say unknowns because there’s unknowns with all the guys, but he’s got an extra element, an extra hurdle to be able to clear.
Q. What does it take for a guy like T/G Jack Driscoll to be able to back up pretty much every position? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, high intelligence, first of all. You want your guys that can play all the different positions. You want as many guys with as much flexibility as possible.
A high football IQ because he’s going to have to do that without the amount of reps, so he’s going to have to work, and hard work and toughness, and he’s shown that because he doesn’t get a lot of the reps but he’s ready to go at all the different positions, so it shows you how high his football IQ is. It shows you how hard he works to do that because that just doesn’t come just because he’s smart. He works hard to do that, and then just what type of teammate and player that he is.
Q. Jonathan Gannon yesterday was talking about the off-season and turnovers coming off last year, and he kind of said you had a directive that it’s got to get better. Can you take us into what you instructed the defensive staff to do a little bit differently? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Well, you know, we have so many good coaches on our staff, and we have so much time in the off-season. Where college coaches are recruiting in the off-season, yeah, we’re watching film and watching and evaluating players a lot, but we don’t have to go on the road a ton. We do a little bit, but we don’t have to do — so we have this time to be able to really develop our craft of being a coach.
We had one college come out and we shared ideas with them. We obviously have relationships with college guys and some NFL teams that you might not play that you share ideas with them. One thing we really did was that I think I had mentioned to you guys, I learned this at Mount Union, that we made the coaches present, once a week, or once or twice a week a coach would present on a certain topic. Sometimes it’s something you want to get to know a little bit more about. There’s a certain play or certain scheme you want to get to know a little bit more about because if you’re going to put it in, you’d better know everything there is to know about it.
Or maybe it’s something you want to get a little bit better at, that you were in one part of the league where you didn’t want to be there and you want to get a little bit better at.
That was one thing we wanted to get a little bit better at, so each coach on defense, we gave them – [Defensive coordinator] Jonathan [Gannon] and I gave them projects to do, to be able to — I think [Linebackers coach Nick] Coach Rallis had just fumbles and how to create fumbles and what goes with that and summarized that and showed us tape to back up his points.
[Assistant Defensive Backs coach] D.K. McDonald had interceptions. Somebody had batted down passes. We had all these different things that we went into it and that we presented. What’s a great product of that is not only does the defensive staff get these ideas from the work, the hard work that these guys are putting in, but it also helps you as an offensive coach to hear how they’re talking about taking the ball away, this and that. So it helps the entire team.
Again, that’s something that I learned at Mount Union that [retired Head] Coach [Larry] Kehres would always put us in positions to grow as a coach. We don’t have to go to a clinic to grow. We’ve got great coaches in here. We can still go to clinics, but we’ve got great coaches in here to learn from and to get ideas from, and so I definitely think that helped big time.
But the players are out there, going out there and doing it, so it’s been awesome to see them go out there and execute, and we’re just trying to pitch in as coaches as much as we possibly can.
Q. QB Jalen Hurts mentioned on the Monday Night Football broadcast that you guys show him a lot of former Chargers and Colts QB Philip Rivers and a lot of former Colts QB Andrew Luck tape. I was wondering if you could explain the why behind that. Are there relevant skill sets that you see between Jalen and those two QBs? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah because we really want [QB] Jalen [Hurts] to throw it a little bit like [former Chargers and Colts QB] Philip [Rivers] does. No, really when you’re showing guys different looks of things, and this isn’t just a Jalen thing, it’s also with the receivers. Sometimes we’ll show them a clip of whoever. It’s not just Jalen, but you’re running concepts that you may have run in the past.
You’re running a concept that you’ve run in the past that you want to see versus a certain look. Well, maybe in training camp, maybe in our past we have never seen us throw a certain coverage, route versus a certain coverage, so you go into your repertoire of things that you have saved and you say, okay we hit this and we have all these tapes saved and all categorized so it’s easy to pull. Hey, I think we hit this play against — I’m just — we hit this play against Buffalo in 2015. Remember, we were going this way, and this and that. So you go and you pull that and you show — you’re trying to give Jalen an extra rep and try to bring the play to life.
That’s a very common teaching technique in football, and so you’re telling them the plan. Here are the plays that are in. Well, why are the plays in? They’re in because they run this certain coverage. I’m thinking of the pass game right now. They’re in because it’s this certain coverage. Alright, let’s bring that one step further and show them, okay, so here’s the coverage they’re playing, we see Arizona running this coverage, cool. We know why the play is in right here, boom, we draw it up. Now look at it come to life here.
There’s a higher level of understanding and learning that goes on, in my opinion, and what I learned in my education degree at Mount Union, of that progression of it, and then you go out and walk it and then you go out and do it in practice. If you need to correct it, you correct it, and hopefully you’re ready to do it during the game.
To me it’s just a natural progression of what happens. So sometimes we show them film from I coached [former QB] Matt Cassel in 2010, of that stuff. That’s where that comes from, and again, it’s the same thing with receivers. I’ll show [WR] DeVonta [Smith] a [Chargers WR] Keenan Allen clip or whatever it is.
You’re just trying to paint the picture of what you want to be accomplished, and we’re so visual — I know I’m super visual, so I guess that’s how I kind of try to teach and what worked for me. So then you’re just trying to show them exactly how you want it. You tell them, then you show them.
Q. Of all the things that must improve on the team, what’s highest on your priority list? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: We have a lot to improve on, and we’re constantly trying to get better in everything that we do.
I mean, to say one particular thing that I want to get better at and what’s highest on the list, I don’t have a ranking of it to be quite honest with you, but we’re in constant mode of how we get better and the way we really preach of how we get better is we want to go every single day and be really super highly detailed in meetings. That starts with coaches. You guys have heard me say this before. Then we want to be full speed to the snap in walk through. Because it’s still a walk-through, right, but we want our minds going. And then when we are practicing, we want high, high intensity in practice to make it as much game-like as possible.
Then we want to be intentional with our core values, and our core values: Connect, compete, accountability, football IQ, fundamentals. I think accountability, football IQ and fundamentals, they happen on their own in practices and in meetings and all those different things, but what I said to the guys today is be super intentional about connecting, be super intentional about competing.
We just want to get improved on those things all the time. I think the bye week and I think a Thursday night game is a chance for you to sit down — I still want to answer your question. It’s a chance for you to sit down and really prioritize all those things. We have ideas of hey, we need to do better at this or this or that, but I think that’s the bye week and your Thursday night game are your chances to really sit there and say, this is number one, this is number two. That doesn’t mean I’m going to answer you on the bye week of what that’s going to be.
But yeah, to answer your question.
Q. In the large bank of plays that you have, are there ways that you adjust the spacing with QB Jalen Hurts as a quarterback to pre-plan for the possibility of a scramble? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: Depending on the play. Not necessarily, though. But depending on the play. If we ever show anything from IUP or from Washington and Jefferson College or Mount Union, then I’ve got to take the hashes into account. But like I told you before, we’ll take anything from anybody. We’ll get things from the week of — that we see in college football games, too.
But as far as the spacing, because of the scramble, the scramble is the second part of it. But as we talk of the past game, you’re trying to show them the why of why something is in, the how of how you want it run. Then you take into account — yes, you talk about the scramble after that and maybe that play didn’t have the scramble, but you talk about where your responsibilities are in a scramble after that, if that answers your question.
Q. The new guys that you got, LB Haason Reddick, WR A.J. Brown, S C.J. Gardner-Johnson and all those guys – (Bob Grotz)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, [LB] Kyzir [White], [WR] Zach Pascal, [CB James] Bradberry —
Q. Anyway, which of those guys has brought something that you really — (Bob Grotz)
NICK SIRIANNI: All of them.
Q. Well, something that you were really surprised at and you didn’t know that it was there before you signed them? (Bob Grotz)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think they all have tremendous — first of all, [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] did a great job of understanding of bringing in the right type of guys, and they’re all also ultra-competitive. They’re all high football IQ. They’re all physical, physical football players, and they all know how to make plays in big moments.
I think that’s at the end of the day why we brought them here, because we had a high value of what they were as a player and what these guys were as people and competitors.
Man, it’s great to have these new additions that we do have. It’s great to see how unbelievable our team is to be able to wrap their arms around these guys and then see how quickly they fit into the culture that these players have set here.
So it’s like, that’s why you have great captains in [C] Jason Kelce and [T] Lane Johnson and [DE] Brandon Graham and [DT] Fletcher Cox and [K] Jake Elliott and [QB] Jalen Hurts and [CB] Darius Slay.
They’ve really done a great job of putting their arms around them, welcoming them in here, and these guys have done a great job of making plays.