Q. Big picture, what’s your evaluation of the defense through this point of the season, what you like, what you would like to see work? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think we’ve done a nice job turning the ball over big time, and I think we have nine or ten forced fumbles, which is outstanding four games into it.
Like everything, we have things to clean up. On offense, on special teams, we all have phases of the game that we need to clean up, but I think they are doing a good job of — and the run game’s been outstanding as well. Doing it a couple of different ways.
We’ve had some leads that have gone away in games that we have to do better when we have maybe, not only just a one-score game, but also a two-score game. That’s not just a defensive thing. That goes into how you’re handling the offense as well and the plays that you’re running there.
So, that’s where we want to get better, but those are a couple things that I think we’ve done well and one thing we all really want to work on.
Q. If DT Fletcher Cox doesn’t play, what do you want to see from your young DTs this weekend? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Just that ability to come in, like [G] Sua [Opeta] did last week and play an outstanding game. They have worked hard for an opportunity to be able to have more reps, if that’s the case, if that’s what happens this week, and just take advantage of the opportunities, right.
That’s what being a backup player in this league is about, is that you’ve got to take advantage of your opportunities and make them count when you get them.
So that’s really what I want to see, and just play with that energy and that passion and that fire that they have been playing with at practice since they have gotten here.
Q. How has CB Bradley Roby’s integration into the defense gone the last couple days and does he have a chance to have a role on Sunday? (E.J. Smith)
NICK SIRIANNI: Without giving up too much information, we feel like he’s done a nice job getting to know his teammates, getting to know the defense and we feel good where he is right now, and getting himself — I know he’s been working out. But it’s still different when you’re out there playing football, so you know, with pads on, with the spikes, everything.
But we feel really good about where he is and we’re really happy with him and what he’s looked like this week.
Q. What’s your assessment of the Rams and what makes them a challenge? (Dave Uram)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think speaking of their defense, they have got one of the best players in the NFL on their defense. Any time you have a guy like that, it can change the game, you’d better be aware of where he is at all times. Then they have got other good pieces around him as well.
I think they are coached extremely well. I have a lot of respect for [Rams Head] Coach [Sean] McVay and the job that he’s done year-in, year-out there, so they are really well-coached. You play a team with a good quarterback, anything can happen there, too, and [Rams QB] Matt Stafford has done a really good job for a long time. Looks like [Rams WR] Cooper Kupp will be up, right. That’s the way it’s shaping up, and he’s been an unbelievable player.
They have really, really outstanding players, really good football coach in Coach McVay, so you know they are going to be well-coached. You know he’s going to put them in positions to succeed and players can make plays.
The star power they have, it’s going to be a challenge, and we’re going to have to be knowing where those guys are at all times.
Q. One of the young guys who would obviously play more if DT Fletcher Cox can’t is DT Milton Williams. What have you seen from him this year and how has he improved from the previous years? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think he’s given us great plays and reps since he’s gotten here, and that’s why we took him, I think it was the third round why we took him there because we had a lot of hope of what kind of person he was and what kind of player he was. He’s been a vital key to a really deep defensive line group for the past three years now.
And so, with more opportunities, he’s just going to show what he can do more and more. Excited if that’s the way it goes; the extra reps that he’ll get and not only him but the extra reps that some of the young guys will get if Fletch can’t go that haven’t played or suited up or gotten a lot of reps this year.
But Milt’s done a great job. He’s a great teammate. Great player, works his butt off and he’s been on a steady climb of getting better since he’s gotten here because of the hard work he’s put in, because of his football IQ and because of who he is as a person.
Q. How do you think LB Nicholas Morrow has handled everything that’s transpired over the last month and a half, recently he’s emerged as a key contributor for you guys? (Josh Tolentino)
NICK SIRIANNI: Not making the initial roster to having three sacks last week, that’s somebody that has taken advantage of his opportunity. That’s somebody that hasn’t let the ups and downs of the season affect him. He just keeps steadily working.
I think that speaks a lot to the character of Nick. The type of person he is, but obviously he’s a great football player and he showed that last week, especially with the way he played. But he’s been playing steady since he’s stepped into the lineup.
So, I’ve got a lot of respect for guys that can handle — it’s easy to be on top and feel good when you’re on top but how do you keep working when you’re not. Got a lot of respect for him; we’ve got a lot of guys like that, and Nick Morrow is definitely one of those guys.
Q. Offensively you’ve been top-10 in most categories, notable exception being the red zone. What have you seen and anything you can put your finger on there? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: [Jokingly] Gosh, that third — do you guys remember the third and 11 call I made? [Laughter].
Again, you can’t get yourself behind the sticks. We’ve got to put the players in better — we’ve got great players. We know we’ve got great players. I’ve said this to you guys already: to me it’s about us as coaches, putting them in positions to succeed and we’ve just got to fight like crazy and put the work in as coaches, which we have this week, to put them in those positions.
Again, our job as coaches when you have the players that we have, is don’t get in the way and we’ve just got to make sure that we’re putting them in the right spots. Again, a penalty here and there is going to put you back behind the sticks. You never want to get behind the sticks there but just like what I said, that’s where we are going to get better there, and we’ve got a lot of faith that we’ll get back to where we ended up last year and I think even the year before in the red zone.
Q. You’ve spoken in the past about your experience coaching in L.A. against the Eagles. Leading up to that game, did you know the atmosphere was going to be like that or did it catch you by surprise when you were there? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think my wife and I went out to dinner that night — now this was the Chargers versus the Eagles in ’17, and I remember seeing a lot of people with Eagles stuff on at that restaurant. So, we knew going into it we were going to have to practice crowd noise. It was a while ago, but I think I remember saying something to my wife, “It’s going to be different here.”
We knew the Eagles fans traveled even before we got here. I don’t want to make up a story, but I think somebody said something to me, like, not that they knew who we were, but maybe I was wearing a Chargers hat or something, and when we were getting out of the car or waiting for valet or something like that. It was like, all right, this is going to be loud here, and the Eagles are going to travel well.