Q. How is WR A.J. Brown doing, and do you expect him to practice today? (Josh Tolentino)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, he’s going to practice today. He’s fine. He’ll be ready to go.
Q. In DE Robert Quinn’s case, is this how you expected to use him, and what do you see from him going forward? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: I see his ability to really rush the passer, and we have to continue to work to get him in in situations where he can do so. Yeah, I’m pleased with Robert, and glad he’s on this team, and he adds great depth to this already really good defensive line.
I just know he’s going to make a play, a big-time play on a big-time situation here real soon because we know how much talent he has a what a good player he is.
Q. A year ago your team was in a spot 3-6 where it was sort of like you have to win out and win every game and approach it like it was a playoff game in order to reach the playoffs. Packers are in a similar situation, 4-7, and they’re taking like every game is a playoff game. Does it change anything in terms of the way you’re looking at them? You obviously have experience having gone through it. (Rob Kuestner)
NICK SIRIANNI: No, not at all. We have to go through our process the way we would no matter what the situation, 0-0, 1-0, 2-0. That was our process last year. I think that’s one of the best things I learned from last year is that you’ve just got to scratch and claw and nail to go 1-0 this week. I don’t think out of this building last year you ever heard well, if we don’t win this one, we’re out of the playoffs. First of all, you don’t know that that’s the case. Secondly, okay, you say that, you give yourself that ultimatum and what if you lose, then you’re packing up shop?
I don’t think you ever heard that sentiment out of our building last year. It was all how do we get — the mountain is so high that we’ve got to climb. The mountain that we’ve got to dig ourselves out of, the hole we’ve got to dig ourselves out of is so high that how do you do that day by day by day by day?
I think what that taught us in this year is you can’t worry about anything else but day by day. You learn from your past experiences, and it taught us that you just have to be so locked into the moment because whether you’re 9-1 or 3-6, whatever it may be, you still can’t see the top of the mountain that you really want to get to. All you can see is a little bit at a time, and the higher you climb, the elements get harder. No matter who you’re playing, the elements get harder, so it even accentuates more that you’ve got to pay attention to what you can control in that day.
Yeah, I mean, that was our thought process all last year. That’s our thought process now. That’s not going to change whether somebody else’s thought process is different, whether it’s the same. All we can do and control is our business, and that’s all we’re trying to do right at this point.
Q. When you guys brought in A.J. Brown it was obviously WR Quez Watkins who was going to take the biggest hit from that. How did you approach that with him, and how has he handled it? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think he’s handled it great. Obviously [WR] Quez [Watkins] is a big-time playmaker that wants to make plays. Just because Quez may not be stuffing the stat sheet, the last couple games have been good as far as his stats, but he still affects the game because of the speed that he has and the big play ability that he brings to this team.
So that was on display, I think, against Minnesota where he had the big game and the catches.
But Quez, you try to go through — I think a lot of these questions, because I’ve been asked a lot of these questions, can trace back to the meeting of when we talked to everybody about their role. Where I stood right there, I looked at every guy in here individually in front of their teammates, I talked to them each individually while everybody was in here and basically spelled out their role. Quez’s role was to be able to make timely plays just like he did last year. He had more opportunities when we needed him. Quez had a really good ability of making big plays last year when we needed him, and they were usually explosive ones.
So that was really — and it was told to him that the pass game runs through A.J. [Brown] the pass game runs through [WR] DeVonta [Smith], the pass game runs through [TE] Dallas [Goedert], and you’re going to have to take advantage of the opportunities you get. So not everybody is going to like their role, but what you’re trying to do is get everybody to accept their role and be a star at their role because if we’re all stars at our role individually, we’ll be great collectively.
Now, how does that message change at the end? The message always at the end of that role talk is now hey, listen, guys, this is a long season, and things happen in this season, and there’s going to be naturally bumps and bruises throughout the season. So your role can change like that [snapping fingers], and it does.
Quez isn’t the only guy whose role is going to change like that, or changed like that, where he’s more involved in everything right now. There are other guys that have – [S] Andre [Chachere], his role has changed. He went from practice squad, now he’s having a big influence on our special teams. [CB] Zech McPhearson, I’m not sure anyone thought coming in that Zech McPhearson was going to be one of our stars on special teams. We knew he was going to contribute. We knew we wanted him to be one of our stars, but now he’s a star on special teams. So, people’s role changed.
The only way to be ready for your role to change, I say all this in a long answer to say this: The only way you’re ready for your role to change is if you go about your business every day and go through the steps every day of how you get better and really work on practicing hard to make sure — and walking through hard and meeting hard to make sure you’re here so that when your number is called, you’re ready to go, and Quez has done that.
I say that in this long answer because that’s exactly what Quez has done. He’s worked, he’s ready to go, and we have so much faith in him to make plays, and it was good to see him make some plays last week.
Q. The last couple weeks have been a little bit tougher sledding for you guys kind of collectively. I’m curious what areas you’re looking at that you want to have addressed based off what you saw in those games to be better moving forward. (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: There are obviously, each game is going to present different challenges, so I don’t think there’s ever a clear-cut answer to that. There are things that you want to work on individually as a team and as an offensive group that you want to get better at, and each guy has those coaching points, and I don’t want to get into specifics with it to be quite honest with you, but you know [QB] Jalen [Hurts] will have his coaching points — because I see something that he has done in the last two games that he’s got to get better at, and then [WR] A.J. [Brown] and [WR] DeVonta [Smith] and [WR] Quez [Watkins], they all have their own individual coaching points.
I think one thing that you’ve seen is the uncharacteristic fumble. Now, those happen in this game, but we know how much we’re rolling when we don’t turn the ball over because we know our defense is doing a great job of turning the ball over. That changes games.
I think generally the general answer for you as a team is that ball security thing. But there’s each and individual — coaches, too, we have our individual things that we need to be better at as game planners, which I don’t think helps me giving you that information because it gives everybody that information and then players collectively have that, as well.
Q. You’ve got five defensive linemen who have been in the league more than 10 years; what do you think it means to the younger guys? I know you didn’t bring them in to be mentors or anything, but what does it mean to the younger guys to watch? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: It’s huge. Yeah, that is an enormous advantage, because I think we’ve talked about this before, in the sense of hey, we have all these tapes that we’re trying to teach you. Hey, watch how this guy — the tapes aren’t just the teams we’ve been on when we’re using teach tapes. Sometimes they are but sometimes they’re of all the people throughout the league.
What’s great about this team is that you have the guys that have been here before, too, [DT] Fletch [Cox] and [DE] BG [Brandon Graham] and [C] Jason [Kelce] and [T] Lane [Johnson], where you can be like, hey, watch how Lane is doing this right here. Now you get an extra step of yeah, here’s what we’re teaching him to do like Lane, visual of what Lane is doing, now go ahead and pick Lane’s brain here. Now we just added two other guys that you can do that with, as well, with our two new defensive tackle additions.
So that is a huge part of getting better is being able to watch people, great people of the past, see their techniques, see how they did it, see if we can get our bodies to do that, and now we have that resource of being able to actually talk to that person and get — one thing that I like to do is like okay, hey, I’d like to get [former NFL QB] Philip Rivers to talk to [QB] Jalen [Hurts] about — we’ve done that before. Hey, Philip, can you Zoom in with us and just talk to Jalen about how you saw this play, because we’re watching this and we know what we talked about and we know what we taught on this play, but just give him a little more insight. We have that relationship with some of our former players where we can do that.
Now when they’re sitting in the building and you have unlimited abilities to do that and unlimited opportunities to do that, that’s huge.
Q. How tough is a Sunday for you when you have to go through the whole day, you have the long wait before a game? (Merrill Reese)
NICK SIRIANNI: I remember my brother would always say — he was a high school football coach so I’m going to put it in perspective here. When my brother was the high school football coach at our high school, because he doesn’t coach anymore, he would always say like man, that is one of the hardest things because you play high school around 7:30. You play a 7:30 game. So, on Friday he’s sitting there all day waiting. He said that would just, he’d be thinking about this play or that play and how he would — what’s he going to do in this scenario one more time, because you’ve already done all those things, but you just put yourself through it one more time and you’ve got more time to do it.
So [Head Coach Nick Sirianni’s brother] Jay [Sirianni] would say, yeah, I just put my — I had butterflies; I put myself through those scenarios one more time, and it’s just a lot of time to think.
Now, that is the case for me, too. I do all that. I didn’t have to teach social studies like he does, all right, so his job was way harder because he had to do all that and then teach U.S. history to the seniors and juniors. I put it in perspective of it’s a long wait and your mind goes through a lot of things. It’s good for that extra little bit of prep. At least I don’t have to teach social studies.
Q. Do you watch some of the other games that are going on? (Merrill Reese)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I do, I do, just to kind of put yourself through situations. We use the league so much — we have a situational Saturday meeting where we take things from — you guys know about this, we take things from college football, throughout the league, high school football, pee-wee football, whatever we can. We try to learn from those situations within it.
Just like tomorrow. Tomorrow I’m going to watch football. I’ll go home, I’ll eat leftover turkey and mashed potatoes like everybody else, and I’ll watch Michigan-Ohio State. I always enjoy watching that game.
When situations pop up from that game, it’s easy, we have such great media access, I’m able to take a clip, send it to our coaches, give a coaching point and put us in that thought process where we’re thinking about it. That’s the same thing on a Sunday that I like to do, as well.