Q. I want to ask you about DT Hassan Ridgeway and, obviously, you guys cut him a couple weeks ago, brought him back. He’s a guy you’re familiar with from Indy. How did that go when you had to tell him he was released or when you spoke with him after that? What was your message to him and how did he respond and, obviously, how he played yesterday? (Reuben Frank)
Nick Sirianni: Yeah, it’s – obviously, I’ll keep the entire conversation private, just like any conversation I have with any player, private.
But, you know, he was – it’s all – any time you cut somebody, that’s always hard. And, you know, he was – we knew we were going to need him, and we knew we wanted him back on the team.
And so, he was awesome. He was ready to go, and he’s just got that ability to move on and play on. He really helped us out yesterday over there in Atlanta.
Q. Can you give us an injury update real quick, TE Zach Ertz, S Marcus Epps, WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and anybody else who we may have missed? (Tim McManus)
Nick Sirianni: Yeah, sure. [WR] J.J. [Arcega-Whiteside]’s ankle, he’s day-to-day. [TE] Zach [Ertz]’s hamstring, we were just being cautious there. He, obviously, came back in and played, we’re still evaluating through with him. [S] Marcus [Epps] is still in the concussion protocol.
Q. After such a convincing victory yesterday against Atlanta, how do you make sure that the guys bring the same energy, same preparation to avoid a letdown? (Rob Maaddi)
Nick Sirianni: Yeah, Rob, you know, we got to – you can’t just – we’ve been kind of talking about dog mentality over and over and over again.
And so, dog mentality isn’t just – when we talked about it yesterday at the press conference, dog mentality isn’t just like, ‘Hey, I made a good play here, so I’m playing the next play,’ right? That’s part of it, right? Or, ‘Hey, I made a bad play here and playing the next play and having this short memory,’ right? It’s also a week-to-week thing. It’s a day-to-day thing, right?
And so, if I think about – on Wednesday when we come back out here, if I think about Wednesday and how we played and how we played well in the Atlanta game, then I’m going to get my butt kicked this upcoming Sunday.
So, it is just living in the moment of what you’re in there. And so, we talk about dog mentality. We really talk about – like, I know I got – guys, I probably sound like a broken record with it saying, ‘Hey, we just want to get better every day.’
And that truly is the goal. That’s not – that’s something I’m saying to the players, too. I say – always a good coaching point is, this is what I always say this to the players: Always a good coaching point is when you know what I’m about to say after you do something, good or bad.
It’s the same thing here. We literally live in the moment of, ‘How are we going to get better today – how are we going to leave this building better today than we were yesterday?’
Well, if you’re constantly thinking about the past or if you’ve got a big ego based off how you played and not thinking about that, you won’t do that.
So, it’s just me reminding them, but I think also they innately have this ability to do that, as well. We talk about it all the time. Players talk about it all the time. We got our shirts, we got our dog mentality shirts. And so, that’s just how we go about it.
It’s my job as a coach to make sure that importance of no letdowns happens. In all honesty, we won one game. We got to go out there and do it again.
That’s what good teams do, they come out on the field every Sunday ready to play regardless of what happened the game before.
Q. You brought up the pre-snap penalties last night. That was kind of your one, you know, thing that you took away negatively from the game. How do you go about enforcing the need to kind of monitor your surroundings and not jump the gun, I guess, on the offensive line or the defensive line when you want guys to be so aggressive and have that dog mentality? (Mike Kaye)
Nick Sirianni: Sure. Yeah, I mean, there’s a difference between aggressive, out of control and aggressive while playing within the rules of the game, right?
And, obviously, at all points, we want to be mean, we want to be physical, we want to be aggressive while still playing completely under control.
And that’s the ability of a good football player, really, to be honest with you. Like, ‘Hey, how do we do all these things that we just talked about, but be completely in control?’
There’s an art to that. That’s just being disciplined with everything that you’re doing. And we talk about mastering things that require no talent.
If you can master the things that require no talent that other teams get beat on, right – and we talk about this all the time, master the things that require no talent, so your talent overtakes and your talent shines.
And so, that’s one of those things, as well. We just got to hone in our energy and hone in our want-to about going out there and getting the good get-off and – but while still playing within the rules.
Q. Nick, after watching the tape, what was your assessment of how QB Jalen Hurts handled the blitz and his feel in the pocket and keeping his eyes down the field and his movements there when he was pressured? (Jeff McLane)
Nick Sirianni: Man, I thought he did a really good job there. He did an excellent job. We turned a couple things free that we were getting corrected today.
And [QB] Jalen [Hurts] just was able to have these quick movements to get out of it. Like, there’s a couple times where I – ‘Hey, Jalen on this coverage, on this play, I want your eyes over here.’ All right, and there’s a guy blitzing over here, and he felt and he went out. So, he kind of showed really good instincts of just – and good feel.
Like, ‘I see the structure of the defense, I’m not really looking at it, but I’m feeling it.’ And so, he got us out of a couple binds that we made a couple mistakes on yesterday.
And so, I really thought he handled that well, how he handled the blitz well. And still, I thought he did a really good job of running it when he was supposed to and throwing it when the defense allowed.
You know, be that passer first and then go and run. So, yeah, I was really pleased with how he handled the pressures. And they brought a lot of different things at us.
Q. Yeah, Nick, a similar kind of question: What did the film show you about the offensive line? There were a couple plays that seemed to stand out; a block that T Jordan Mailata threw on the WR Jalen Reagor touchdown, a couple of blocks by C Jason Kelce on a RB Miles Sanders run. What did you think overall of the offensive line’s offensive play? (Mike Sielski)
Nick Sirianni: Yeah, I thought they played a really good game. They were really able to show some dominance in the run game of how they were coming off and with working some double-teams. And that just showed up over and over again in our run game.
And then, I thought the pocket was very sound for a majority of the game. The one sack that we had, we had to kind of move around and we weren’t open downfield.
Give credit to the defense, they made a good play. And then we had to move around and try to go and that’s how the sack came.
Really pleased with the offensive line, how they played. I’m not surprised. I know that this is the unit that we’re going to – that determines whether you win or lose games.
Because that’s just where games are won, upfront on the offensive and defensive line. So, really pleased with how they played and that block like you mentioned [T] Jordan [Mailata] had on [WR] Jalen [Reagors]’s touchdown, that was really a big time play.
The other things you don’t see is [C] Jason Kelce wrapping around and stopping the defensive end from kind of peeling back and making the play.
And so, it was just a good all-around play, Jalen Reagor making a good read of the block, being in complete control when he caught the ball. And you really saw his acceleration there.
So, just good all-around play right there, but that definitely was a big time hit by Jordan. I can’t imagine that felt too good for the safety.
Q. Speaking about T Jordan Mailata: He got that contract extension on Saturday. What did you know about him before he took the job? What have you learned about him in these past few months and what kind of ceiling do you see in the next few years? (Zach Berman)
Nick Sirianni: What I knew about [T] Jordan [Mailata] is we did bring him in to Indy when we were there for that pre-draft work.
And so we knew how big of a — I just remember our strength coach was, like, ‘This guy is a huge man.’ And, obviously, that’s very obvious. But he had a ton of muscle mass and, like, something that they’ve never seen before ever.
And so we were all kind of salivating over him in the potential that he had. But that’s what it was, it was potential, right?
It wasn’t like you turned on South Carolina/Clemson, and you’re, like, ‘Look at this guy block.’ It was all potential.
So a ton of credit, ton of credit goes to, obviously, Jordan for developing himself into a player that gets a type of contract like this.
And also his position coach, [Eagles Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach] Jeff Stoutland. And so, when you get a player that has good character, that really likes football, I — you know what, with Jordan, and I’m not even sure that he knew he liked football until he got around Stout and got around playing.
And that’s tough because he’s tough, right? Then he can reach his potential. And Jordan has — it’s like we all said, it’s potential.
He had potential coming out and has just done a good job of maximizing it. And he’s still a young player. We still think he’s got his arrow still pointing up.
Q. The defense, you know, those two red zone stops that they had, I mean, they, obviously, were pretty huge. But when you looked at the tape, did anybody stand out there? Any takeaways from those two red zone stops you had there in the first half? (Ed Kracz)
Nick Sirianni: Yeah, the first red zone stop — I think it was the first one. Yeah, the very first one, we just got a great rush from our defensive line.
There was a little spot to go with the ball, but [Falcons QB] Matt Ryan couldn’t throw it on rhythm. He had to move in the pocket.
And then the — because the whole defensive line kind of collapsed. And, particularly, [DT] Javon Hargrave, he beat his man and got a rush and forced him to move in the pocket and then everyone else kind of did, too.
The second one, I thought it was really good coverage on the perimeter. We just had it bottled up. Even if he would have completed that ball, it would have been a bang-bang and they would have been kicking the field goal anyway.
But those are huge plays that we talk about a lot. We talk about, as an offense just so you kind of know, is to stay out of third and long, I mean, in the red zone, right?
I mean, I know that’s really genius of us, to stay out of third and long. But you really got to think about that in the red zone of, ‘How do you stay out of third and long?’
Because as the field shrinks, right, third and long in the red zone are even harder than third and long in the field. That’s just different coaching points we give the quarterback, offensive line in those scenarios to stay out of it.
Well, the one was a third and ten from the ten. That’s a hard — so they did their job on first down and second down to make it a really challenging thing on third down and then [DT] Javon [Hargrave] gets the rush.
So, again, we talk about also that those are four-point plays. When you get a third and goal from wherever you are, unless the team’s going for it on fourth down — I get that they could do that too.
But if you’re a third and goal and let’s say from the five out, you’re probably in a four-point play. You stop them, they kick a field goal. They score, they get seven points. So those are huge.
I mean, every game, it feels like it comes down to the final score. And if you can get two of those stops in a game, man, that changes the whole course of a game, too, right?
If they score those two touchdowns, it’s 15 to 14 at half. It’s a completely different feel and it’s a completely different feel for how the second half plays out. Ton of credit to the defensive coaches and defensive players executing. Really pleased with that.
Q. What do you like about RB Kenneth Gainwell in the two-minute offense? And what did he have to show you specifically to earn that role? (Dave Zangaro)
Nick Sirianni: Yeah, he had to show that he could protect. Because we know his ability as a pass catcher. We’ve seen his ability as a pass catcher. We’ve seen it even more in practice and all the different drills we do and everything.
And he just had to show that — if you just go in there and he’s only releasing out in the pass patterns, well, you might as well have another wideout in there, right? Because he’s not going to block.
So we had to feel comfortable that he was a complete player there before we put him out there. Does he still have things to work on? Absolutely. He’s going to be the first to tell you he has to work on some things.
But he wants some back that he had yesterday, but he had a couple of big time plays in protection, as well.
And so that’s what he had to show to earn his right out there. And we felt like he did that. And you can see he made a couple of plays for us in that two-minute drive yesterday.
Had a really good heads-up. I think one of the earlier plays in the drive, he caught a ball, got nine yards and was savvy enough to get out of bounds to stop the clock so we could keep going and get that touchdown at the end of the half. Which was a huge swing for us to get that touchdown at the end of the half.
Q. WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, he went from having to play in the fourth preseason game to starting yesterday. I mean, how would you assess the way he played and blocked? And what was your overall thoughts of the blocking by the wide receivers as a whole? (Chris Franklin)
Nick Sirianni: [WR] J.J. [Arcega-Whiteside] I thought did an excellent job yesterday of blocking. He was aggressive. He was able to make some plays, kind of sprang out there for extra yards.
He sprung plays. So I kind of talk about it this way: If the ball gets to the wide receivers, it’s because the offensive line did their job upfront, right? They all did.
They all were perfect, for the most part, right? [QB] Jalen [Hurts] made the right read, the tight end did his job, the five offensive linemen did their job, the ball got on to the perimeter.
Well, the message to the receivers is, ‘Hey when that ball gets out on the perimeter, you never know when that’s going to happen. So you have to be blocking your tails off every single time.’
Because when that ball gets on the perimeter and you do your job, we can turn a ten-yard run into a 20-yard run or 30-yard run or 40-yard run or whatever it may be.
And I saw J.J. do that very well and very efficiently yesterday. And we didn’t just throw him out there to do that because we didn’t have a feel that he was going to do that.
He’s been showing that to us every single day in practice. Again, there’s so much that goes into each and every single play like, ‘Hey, who’s going to get this block on this if it does spring out like we think it’s going to?’ J.J., right? Or whoever it may be.
And so, J.J. did a great job with that. He’ll be rewarded with catches from that. I know he wasn’t yesterday. But we’re going to have to marry things together so he’s getting some touches off that, as well.
So we have that threat to run and pass it. But I thought he did a great job. In particularly, there’s three blocks that come to my mind; the first two to [WR] Quez [Watkins], the first two bubbles to [WR] Quez [Watkins]. He sprung that for extra yards.
And then there was a run that Jalen [Hurts] had where he pinned the safety. Dallas kind of wrapped around and blocked the corner and we got an explosive play off that.
So really pleased with how he blocked. I thought the receivers as a whole blocked well. I really – [WR] DeVonta [Smith] stuck out to me how he blocked.
And, you know, he’s tough, he’s scrappy. And he’ll get after you, and he’ll get you covered up. Because he kind of had those same two good blocks on those first two plays we talked about, as well.
Q. Kind of keeping with the wide receiver theme. Obviously, you know, a guy like WR Jalen Reagor, there were a lot of expectations on him last year, he had a down year with injuries and stuff like that. To see him respond like he did on Sunday, how big do you think that was not only for you as a team but for him personally? (Martin Frank)
Nick Sirianni: Yeah, I think any time you have a game, and you start off the year like that, your confidence builds, right?
You do a couple of things technique-wise; you show the talents you have and your confidence really builds, like, ‘All right, man, I can make this play, I can make this play.’ So we just hope to build upon that. And the good plays he had, he’s shown he can really do some dynamic things when the ball is in his hands.
He shows he can really go get the ball. We just have to find ways to get him the football and let the talent shine.