Q. There was a report that just came out saying that P Arryn Siposs was out indefinitely. Can you confirm that’s the case, and what’s the process for bringing somebody in for the rest of the week so you have him ready for the Bears? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: [P] Arryn [Siposs] is going to look like it’s going to be a little bit longer than we expected, so we will have to bring somebody in. Don’t really know how long it’s going to be, but we’re planning. We’ll obviously bring somebody in, and we’re working through that right now.
Q. Did you happen to see the clip from the game copy or the broadcast copy of the receivers celebrating as QB Jalen Hurts kind of sat there stone faced, and either way, what’s it been like from your perspective being kind of an emotional coach watching how emotionless he is so much of the time? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: [Jokingly] Yeah, we’ve got to balance each other out somehow, right, me and him?
No, he’s just definitely on to the next play. But we know that maybe in that moment, [QB] Jalen [Hurts] wasn’t celebrating, but I’ve seen some pretty good griddies that he’s done. He had a good dance last year after Atlanta. He does the thing that my son likes to do after he makes a play like this [crossing his arms against his chest], and my son says I look like Jalen right here. Let’s not make him out like he’s not making any celebrations. Maybe in that particular case he wasn’t. But he has some good ones, and I know that because I see my son try to reenact those if he ever makes a play in one of his games.
Q. Wanted to talk to you about DE Brandon Graham, having the big game, the three sacks, and it’s kind of a different role for him this year. What’s it mean to have a guy who’s been around this organization for so long accomplish so much and is willing to take on sort of that new role? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: He’s awesome. I can’t say enough good things about him. I said on the radio on WIP this morning that he was made by God to rush the quarterback. Like the way he’s built, the way he goes, one of our coaches said that, and I was like, you’re right. That was a quote somebody had about Michael Jordan about this last shot — he was made by God to take the last shot of the game, and one of our coaches said that — I can’t remember which one it was, and he was right.
But what’s great about [DE] Brandon Graham is he takes that God-given ability that he has and then he has this platform in this city, he’s been here so long, right, he’s got this platform in this city, and then he uses his platform in such a positive way to affect people and to affect the community in a positive way.
Man, he’s a special guy. He’s a special team leader. He’s a special player, and he’s a special person. It was great to see him have that type of game yesterday, and he knows how to rush that passer, and he knows how to get his hands into a tackle, he knows how to get his hands into a tight end and create some havoc.
He’s just such a good, positive player out there on the field for us, and I’m glad he’s one of our captains and he’s leading us out there.
Q. Why are we seeing more quarterback designed runs of late, and what is the secret to their success? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I mean, we’ll do what we need to do to win the game. We just happen to think the last couple games, particularly the Green Bay game and this last game, the ones that we ran and the ones we called were going to be successful through our scouting.
The success is always going to come down to that offensive line of how they’re blocking and how good they are and how good they are against the defense that we’re playing, and then obviously how [QB] Jalen [Hurts] is, too. But it doesn’t stop at that, right.
You saw [RB] Miles [Sanders] had a big-time block on one of Jalen’s runs yesterday. You see the receivers running off or blocking downfield. You see the tight ends finishing blocks, as well. So, it starts with the offensive line, and we’re trying to put the guys in the best position to make plays, but that offensive line, sometimes you feel like you can call anything. A lot of the times, most of the time you feel like you can just call anything and the O-line is going to make it go because we’ve got five special guys there, and the backups are special guys, too, and they work as one.
That’s obviously an advantage that we have because of who our offensive line is, and Jalen is a special runner. He’s special at that. He’s developing in all parts of his game, but one thing that we know and one thing that he’s always had is the special ability to run the football, whether that’s on a design run or on a scramble. He’s just special at that.
Q. Just in terms of with TE Dallas Goedert going out the last four weeks, how much have you seen TE Grant Calcaterra and TE Jack Stoll improve in that short time and in what areas would you say? (Ed Kracz)
NICK SIRIANNI: Thanks for asking that question because it’ll give me an opportunity to brag on these guys. They’ve really done a nice job. [TE] Jack Stoll, he is a tough-nosed dude, dirty work type player, and now you’re seeing him having to run some routes where he gets to run and show his ability to run and make plays with the ball, and he’s done that. He had a really nice shallow that we threw him yesterday, had a nice stiff arm off of that. He’s really savvy on how to get to the guy he’s supposed to block, whether that’s a D-end, whether that’s a linebacker, whether that’s a safety, whether that’s a corner, on how he gets there and how he adjusts to the picture not being completely clean. He’s just got great feel, great instincts, great toughness. This guy is playing really good football, and he’s really developing nicely. [Tight Ends coach] Jason Michael has done a great job coaching him and obviously Jack, that room is special. I really like that room. They’re all rooting for each other. Nobody is cheering for Jack Stoll more than [TE] Dallas Goedert on that sideline, I promise you that. It’s really fun to watch, and that’s, again, that’s just part of this team connecting.
Then [TE] Grant [Calcaterra], I think what you see with Grant, you just see he is a scrappy guy and you’re seeing that more and more. He had a big-time block on the long touchdown by Miles where he worked his way through the line of scrimmage off a pull and got himself to his linebacker, and then you see he slips on the first play of the game. He slips there, and he gets up, makes a play and gets a 10-yard gain on that one.
He really has this ability to snatch the ball and then get in and out of breaks. I think he’s got receiver qualities, but then he can do enough in the run game, and he has been. This is new for him because in the sense of this, on this team, when we were running 12 personnel sets, it was usually with Dallas and Jack. Now it’s with Jack and Grant, and Grant has done a really nice job. Grant is coming along, and we’re seeing some of the special receiver qualities of why we drafted Grant, but then we’re also seeing how he’s developing in the run game, which is really important, obviously, for tight ends to have, that we keep them balanced, and you can’t get any tells when a guy is on the field.
Q. If I can follow up on the question about injuries, there was a report about S Reed Blankenship, his injury not as bad as originally feared. I was wondering if you can update us on that, and also the fact that S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is still on IR, you guys would seem to be pretty thin at safety. What some of your options are? Also, if there’s anything on T Lane Johnson, as well. (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: We’re still working through things with both of those guys, both with [T] Lane [Johnson] and with [S] Reed [Blankenship]. We’ll see. It’s looking good for those guys. We’ll see how it goes and how the week progresses.
Obviously, I’m not going to put a timetable on either of those guys. We’ll see how they progress.
But both of them we feel like we’ll get more tests done and get more time with the treatment, and we’ll see how they’re doing. But both of them we feel like are in a good spot, and we’re hopeful.
Your other question was about [S] Chauncey [Gardner-Johnson] or about the safeties?
Q. Yeah, and just how well S Reed Blankenship has played, also, in the time he’s been in there. (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, so we’ll see if we need to do something with safety. I know [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and his guys, we’ve already talked about it. They’re on top of anything we need to fill the roster. Howie works diligently to put this team in the best position to win, just like we do as coaches to put players in position to succeed. Howie is going to try to put us as coaches and as a team in positions to succeed by the players that he gets in here and the depth that he gets in here and the right amount of practice people that he gets in here. He’s working at all levels to do that.
Reed has done a really nice job. I think that’s been very evident, that Reed has played good football while he’s been in there. It was a shame that he had to leave yesterday’s game because every snap that Reed gets it feels like he just keeps getting better with every snap that he gets in his young career. Hopefully he’ll be back soon and continue to get those reps.
But I think things Reed has done since he stepped into the lineup has been really nice. He can hit. He can cover. He can take the ball away. He’s smart. He’s fast. He’s physical. We’re happy we have him, that’s for sure.
Q. On that opening drive, seven different players caught passes. Was that the way it was scripted? And has the offense evolved to spread the ball out more, or do you still view it kind of around those main guys like you always did? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Well, I don’t think I’ll ever tell you how I scripted it. I just don’t want the opposing coaches to know that. But what happens sometimes is the fact that the quarterback goes with the ball where the defense dictates it to. So, you always want to be aggressive and you’re offensive, so you want to be on offense and you want to attack, but that doesn’t mean you just aimlessly throw the ball into tight windows or you aimlessly — you take what the defense gives you. That’s playing quarterback at a high level.
There were a couple plays on that drive where I thought were outstanding plays by our quarterback. I mentioned yesterday where he just checked it down to Miles, but there was also a play that he checked it down to [WR] Zach Pascal, as well, it was on a 2nd and 2 or 3 for a 1st down gain. So, it’s good; when the ball is being spread, you know who the pass game runs through here, so when the ball is being spread around like that, that means Jalen is just playing at a very high level to get the ball to where the defense dictates it.
What was the second part of your question?
Q. You answered it. I was essentially curious because you heard throughout the preseason the storyline about getting everyone targets and how you keep everyone happy. I didn’t know if that’s something you’re mindful of or if the offense is simply going in that direction. (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I got you. And then I wore this sweatshirt not just for myself, but because — this is my Mount Union sweatshirt. We play in the National Championship game this Friday night, which I’m pretty excited about, and then you asked me a question yesterday, you said, ‘How does it feel to be 12-1 because you’ve never been 12-1, but there was not a year at Mount Union where we weren’t 13-0 going into our last game.
Q. I meant in your NFL career. (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: I figured I could say that to you right now, but I am just repping the Mount Union team that we’re going to go play North Central this week at 7:00 on Friday. Let’s go, Raiders! Purple Raiders, let’s go Purple Raiders! I’ve got to add that in there because then people think I’m talking about the Raiders.
Q. Are you going to make it out to that game? (Josh Tolentino)
NICK SIRIANNI: It’s actually in Annapolis. I’m not, but I probably could if Fridays weren’t so hectic. But I’ll be watching. I’m really excited to root for my alma mater, and I believe if we win this one, it’ll be our 14th National Championship since 1993.
Q. Looking ahead to next week, in particular with Chicago QB Justin Fields, when it comes to preparing for a quarterback who might have mobile capabilities, does it help or how much of a benefit is it when the defense kind of naturally goes up against Jalen throughout practice, throughout training camp, really all throughout the year? (Josh Tolentino)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I think that’s a big help. There’s going to be a lot — as you guys know, there’s a lot of communication, cross-communication between the offensive staff and the defensive staff. You guys have asked me before with [Defensive Coordinator] Jonathan Gannon and how many conversations him and I have had about how to attack a defense that he’s very familiar with, dating back to our Indy days, obviously, into here.
Then there are times where we can repay the favor of hey, this is a style of offense that we’ve run in the past. So, there will be a lot of cross-talking, what affects us here and there. That to me, using every resource that you have is our job as coaches, to make sure we leave no stone unturned to help us put the players in position to win the game.
Obviously, they’ve seen some of the things that we’ve run. We’re still early in our preparation for it, but I know the Bears are doing an outstanding job. Really hats off to their offensive coaching staff of what they’ve done to succeed and use their quarterback. I have a lot of respect for that and with their coaches.
Yeah, we’ll be talking like crazy about it, and it does help that they have stuff on training camp that’s going to look a little similar to what the stuff that Chicago is running, and they can bounce things off of training camp reps of what they did to succeed against us in training camp on the offensive side.