Nick Sirianni

Q. I’m wondering if you’re considering any coaching responsibility changes starting this week, including potentially trying to take over play calling to give the offense a spark? (Tim McManus)


Q. Okay. And what’s behind that thinking? (Tim McManus)

NICK SIRIANNI: I feel good with the people that we have in this building. We’re 10-3. We’re in control of our own destiny, and we’re going to keep rolling and finding answers with the people that we have.

Q. A lot has been of TE Dallas Goedert, WR A.J. Brown and WR DeVonta Smith getting the majority share of the targets in the last game. How do you get some of these other guys like WR Julio Jones and WR Quez Watkins, involved to spread the ball out, and what were the Cowboys doing to allow that to happen so it wouldn’t get the ball to them? (Chris Franklin)

NICK SIRIANNI: Our passing game runs through three guys. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to get the ball to some other guys here and there, but the main passing game goes through those guys. The Cowboys and the style of defense they run, which is obviously a very good defense, allows you to kind of get the ball to where we were going with it.

That’s where the ball was designed to go. It has nothing to do with anything else. We wanted to get A.J. going. We wanted to get DeVonta and Dallas the ball. Every plan is thought of through that. I’ve said that from the very beginning.

That was our plan in that game, and obviously we didn’t win the game. We didn’t play well enough on offense. We didn’t coach well enough on offense. That was by design to throw those guys the football, and that’s why the football went there.

Q. As you look at your defense, what’s at the top of the list of things to get cleaned up and where is the confidence level in Defensive Coordinator Sean Desai that he’ll be able to get the job done? (Dave Zangaro)  

NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, total confidence. That’s why we hired him for the job. I think really where it is, the yards pile up on you when you are giving up some third downs.

Again, the problem is everywhere, there, right? Where we are on third down, we got to coach them better, put them in better spots, detail it out for them, and execute better.

So, I think everybody is in on that. I think that when you — this is a team game. Team. You hear me all the time say, ‘this is the greatest team sport there is.’ Usually when I’m talking about that I’m talking about the good things that happen.

It’s also the truth when bad things are happening, too. So, I respect your question. Obviously answering it right now. But to single somebody out, one person out, is not the right move here. It’s how do we get better as a team. And we have to get better as a team. Make no mistake about it.

But that’s where we are there.

[In regard to what needs to be fixed on defense] I think it’s more that situational. You bleed a little bit in the yardage areas when you’re staying on the field on third downs. The big one is third down and being able to get off the field in third downs.

Obviously, we haven’t been good enough there. Like I said, everybody is involved in that and it starts with me. Starts with me, and then goes to everybody else.

Q. After the game you were talking about starting faster and you mentioned starting faster with plans as coaches. What does that part of it mean as far as getting off to the starts that you want to get off to? (John McMullen)

NICK SIRIANNI: There are different things you want to do when you open a game. You want to gather information, how they’re playing a certain set, gather information how they’re playing a certain personnel, gather information how they’re playing a certain player, their player, our player.

So sometimes the answer is to gather information with your opening starts, and sometimes the answer is to, — there are different answers there, right? Sometimes the answer is to run a certain set of plays to get guys in a groove. There are all sorts of different answers.

And so to us, we got to start fast. Sometimes that’s going to be — maybe it’s looking for less answers at the beginning, right? Make no mistake about it, when you’re looking for answers, you feel good in those plays as well.

But we just got to — I felt like last year we had a good formula of starting fast, especially on that opening drive and in that second quarter, and so we just have to continue to do that.

Again, be able to put the guys in positions to succeed and then adjust accordingly. One thing that is important that you just don’t look at a first drive and say, ‘I’m going to change the whole game plan based off this,’ because It’s very common for a defensive coordinator to play something a little bit different his first drive and settle back into — because he knows you’re looking for answers — and then settles back into what he does.

So, the answer is not always you get at everything on the first drive either.

Again, a lot of the different ways we can do that, but we feel like we got to do a better job coaching and playing of starting faster and playing with a lead. Obviously, that’s always been important to us. Kind of how we’re built and how we need to play.

Q. I know how much of an emphasis you put on turnovers. You guys have tied your season total from all last season already this year. What’s behind the change? Anything you guys can do to clean it up? (E.J. Smith)

NICK SIRIANNI: We’re putting in that same time as players, as coaches. Sometimes the ball bounces a little bit different. It’s a shame when you put in all that time that it does go against you.

I think last year at this time I think I saw a stat we were plus-14; right now we’re minus-4. Huge, huge, huge difference.

John, going back to your question, huge difference on how you start a game and get a lead.

And so, again, we know we’re doing the right things as a team, how we coach it, how we protect it, how we go about our business.

And sometimes it is, you want to look for every answer you can, and we will look for every answer we can, but it’s smacking the table and saying, ‘no, double down on the things know to be true.’ That’s still our ball security circuit to start off any practice and take away circuit.

It’s still our Saturday, situational Saturday meeting where we emphasize the ball and how teams get the ball out and how teams take care of it.

It’s still our Thursday meeting with Coach [Running Backs/Assistant Head Coach Jemal] Singleton and the offensive players, a similar type of meeting, and stressing what we need to work on.

And so all these things can be true, and you can get frustrated in a time where you’re going through a little bit of adversity in this moment, but I don’t — like because we spend so much time in it and because we feel like the time and the players are spending all the time and the coaches are spending all the time, you slap the table and say, ‘hey, it ain’t good enough. Here is what we messed up.’ It kind of can go like this in drops, too, you go in ebbs and flows. Here is what we messed up; here is how we’re going to fix it, and double down on those things.

You definitely have those core beliefs, whether it’s in your core values, one of them is fundamentals, that you say, ‘hey, I know we’re doing things the right way as players and as coaches. It’s not going the right way now. Let’s double down on this thing and not hit the panic button and double down on that we know to be true,’ and that’s the things we preach in the turnover area.

Q. From the outside we’re trying to figure out what’s been going on the last couple weeks. There is a theory you guys are tired, you guys are exhausted. Some of the guys on defense, especially after all those snaps against the Bills. I know you don’t want to use that as an excuse, but given the data that you have on the player tracking stuff, do you notice any difference with the guys on the field right now? (Bo Wulf)

NICK SIRIANNI: We have a good, deep group of guys that work their butts off. They work their butts off at practice. They work their butts off during the game. They’re always fighting every moment of the games and of practice.

And so, everybody is tired at this point of the year. We’ll never use that as an excuse. We’re at a point of the year where college football is done and we’re still going, right?

It shows you the physical and mental toughness that you have to have to play in the NFL. It’s a long, long season on a very demanding sport on your body. We understand that everybody is tired at this point of the year.

Again, we know we played a lot of plays, especially defensively. That’s my job as a coach. And like I said to you last week, I didn’t feel like I did a good enough job as a coach having the guys rested enough.

I definitely said that to our team, is I have to make sure they’re rested enough. Sometimes it’s to pull back a little bit on Thursday and sometimes pull back a little bit on Friday or Wednesday. There are different ways around it.

There are going to be a lot of teams as we go that they’re going to come off a game where they played a lot of plays or come off a short week. You have to be ready for those things. You have to be ready for all the different things that this game challenges you with.

So, no excuses. I’ll take full responsibility if our guys are tired or play tired. That’s full responsibility on me. Like I said, last week I feel like I could have done a better job. But, again, we just have to be ready for any situation that we’re put into.

Like I said, particularly last week I felt like I didn’t have them fully ready to go there physically.

Q. There is a report that some players on the offense think the system has become predictable and that the plays aren’t being designed to get the ball out of QB Jalen Hurts’ hands quick enough; is that true? (Jeff McLane)

NICK SIRIANNI: We obviously don’t think so as coaches. We’ll continue to work on making sure that we’re meshing things together, that, hey, this looks like that so there is not a beat on anything.

Or this marries to that and the defense can’t get a beat on that because if they do, they’re going to get beat on this. So, we’ll work like crazy on that.

There are different things you want to do. There are times you want to get the ball out fast. Times you want to push it down the field. Times you want to get chunks by throwing it underneath. Times you want to get chunks by throwing it over the top. Times you want to get chunks throwing it intermediate.

So, all things are true. You can’t be predictable in anything you do.

Like I said, we’re working like crazy to complement our plays so there is nothing. We’ll look at everything and during our self-scout, which we get every single week, to make sure we’re not predictable and doing different things to hit all levels of the field.

Q. You mentioned that self-scout. Is that the best way for you to find confidence in your game plans, or are there other things at this point, or at any point, where you can best vet what you’re going to do and if that’s the best way? (Brooks Kubena)

NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, there are different ways you game plan. You game plan based off what the defense is doing obviously. You game plan based off the things that you do well. So self-scout, you game plan based off things you do well that complement that.

And so obviously studying the opponent film and studying their numbers and studying the analytics, those are all tools. It always comes back to what you do well as well. So that’s part of it as well during your self-scout. You use different tools to game plan the opponent, and like I said, what you do well is always near the top of the list.

Q. CB Kelee Ringo and LB Nolan Smith both played by far a career high in snaps. I was kind of curious, especially with Ringo, he had only played one defensive snap before the game. What warranted the decision to give him some opportunities at cornerback and also how both he and Nolan Smith did? (Martin Frank)

NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, again, it’s a long season and you’re trying to rotate and trying to play guys to make sure guys are staying fresh.

That’s always a plan that you go in with. That’s not always a reality that you can do it, based off of how the game and how the flow of the game is. Kelee has done a good job, a very good job on special teams. He’s been our special teams player of the week. Like I said, he’s played well on special teams; he’s played well in practice. He’s had the job of the covering A.J. [Brown] and DeVonta [Smith] during practice, which has helped him get better – iron sharpening iron. So, he’s earned more opportunities.

Being a long season and that we’ve played a lot of plays you’re trying to supplement that a little bit, and then he’s earned the reps through the things that he’s done.

I thought that was a really — obviously an outstanding throw and catch by [Michael] Gallup and [Dak] Prescott on the big, long third down for the conversion. I know he also had a penalty.

Besides that, I thought he played some clean football. He made a big stop on a tackle –

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NICK SIRIANNI: He was doing an outstanding job as a special teams player in games. He’s been doing an outstanding job in practice against A.J. and DeVonta. Iron sharpens iron. And so he’s gotten better that way. He earned those reps.

We know that we have to keep guys fresh as well, and keeping guys fresh after some long games, that’s important. You don’t always get an opportunity to do that. We felt like we got an opportunity to do that. I know he gave up two plays, he gave up the pass interference call and then he gave up the play that — I just think that was good offense beat good defense with Gallup and Prescott on the vertical route on that third down.

He had a huge play on a third and I think it was 23. They were trying to get themselves into range and he made a big tackle, him and Zach [Cunningham] made a big tackle on the perimeter. Kelee is big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s physical, and we saw that show up in the game. Again, he’ll want some plays back, but all of us are going to want some plays back from that game.

So Kelee has just done a good job working, and we’re confident in the player that we have and that he’s earned those reps.

Q. Jalen Hurts has a fumble in the last seven games – not all lost – but are you seeing something in particular with him or is it the nature of having the ball every play? How do you fix that? (Zach Berman)

NICK SIRIANNI: Part of that is that. I would have to look at all of those. There is sometimes where the ball comes out different ways, right? If the ball touches the ground and there is a hand-off issue, then it’s on Jalen. If the ball touches the ground on any of those and he touches it, it’s on Jalen. If the ball comes out and there is a potential pressure or something like that and the ball comes out and he can’t see it, it’s on him.

I think part of that is, again, this is a team game. Now, he gets provided with a lot of those stats and he has to have that because he is the quarterback.

In this game that we just had, sure he’s going to want that play back. I think that [Donovan] Wilson made a really good play on that. We have to do a better job protecting the football going to the ground. Jalen has to do a better job with that, going to the ground, and we got to do a better job coaching that.

There are different ways to simulate going to the ground. It’s one of the most unnatural things that you can do in football, to be able to protect the football as you go to the ground, because naturally your body wants to sprawl out to catch yourself and sprawl out with the arm that’s carrying it.

So we got to put them in those situations even more. That’s my job as the head coach. Let’s make sure we simulate this drill more of going to the ground. That’s what we have to do to help the players out.

Again, you try to put them in every situation you can in plays so that they can go out and execute, right? So you run a certain play, you try to give them every look. You try to give them a look of one defense versus one coverage and then another defense versus another coverage, so they’re prepared to make the plays mentally.

You got to do the same thing when you’re going through fundamentals. You’ve got to put them through all the same things. Again, starts with me putting those guys in positions to execute their job from their practice reps.

So we’ll get more work. When a play like that happens with Jalen going to the ground or like a play like that happens with I think in the Buffalo game we had a miscommunication, a little bit off with the exchange between the running back and the quarterback, we repped those more.

Just like when you drop a football, if you drop a ball that’s on the sideline or over the shoulder, you rep that more. Well, you do the same thing here.

Again, it comes into a total team game of the coaches have to do a good job putting them in positions to succeed as far as their fundamentals as well. That’s my job. And then they have to go out and execute as well.

Q. Last week you were able to joke a little bit about the “run the ball” sign in front of the NovaCare Complex. This week it was a little personal with the “fire Sean” and the garbage can stuff. Does that upset you at all that somebody would get personal like that? It’s one thing to have something like “run the ball,” but that got a little personal. (Bob Brookover)

NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, you’re always trying to defend your guys and want to — you know, it’s just, that’s our family. I guess I would shoot that question back to you. If someone was offending your family you would be upset, too. Do I understand that we always are going to have criticism? I do. That’s part of the job. We know what we signed up for and we’re big boys and we can handle it.

But you always have the portion of yourself that always wants to defend. That’s why you get into this. You get into this for the connection. The connection is not always during just the good times. It’s during the bad times. That’s what keeps teams close together. A part of you wants to be in defense of your guys and you will be, but the other part, we know what we signed up for. Like I said, we’re big boys and can handle it. And that part of it is what it is.