Q. The sack numbers are up significantly from last year. How much of that is an impact of LB Haason Reddick? (Rob Kuestner)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think it’s an impact of the entire defense of how they’re playing. Obviously, [LB] Haason [Reddick] is a great pass rusher, and so that’s why we wanted to bring him here.
He has 10, so there’s 10 additional ones right there. But it’s a lot of production by a lot of different guys. It’s what’s pretty impressive about it.
What’s also is impressive is it just keeps — the fact that they can stay fresh, and the numbers, the plays that they’re getting, they can be — people don’t sub offensive linemen, right, it’s not like hey, the offensive linemen played 37 percent of the plays. But the teams that can sub the defensive linemen, that’s a huge advantage. But you don’t sub unless you have the guys that you really believe in that can do it, and we definitely do have that.
A lot of credit of our sack numbers going up, deservedly so, should go to Haason, but it’s a great unit in whole. Then our secondary is doing a great job of making them hold the ball, take longer. Our defensive coaches are doing a good job, [Defensive Coordinator] Jonathan [Gannon] is doing a good job of putting them in position to help make the guy hold the ball, take longer, and then obviously those guys are going out there and winning their one-on-one pass rushes.
Q. The last month without TE Dallas Goedert, what have you learned about the offense, and are there things you’ve figured out that can help you even now when he’s back? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, sure. You can’t wait until you get back him because he’s going to be able to — he makes a ton of plays. He’s a great tight end, one of the best tight ends in the NFL. But you have to adapt when you’ve got to adapt. Like okay, it’s the same thing when you’re playing a certain style of defense, you might want to run a certain set of plays, but you might not be able to because they’re dictating that you can’t do that.
We were able to get some other guys going with [TE] Dallas [Goedert] being out and [WR] Quez [Watkins] is the one guy that really has stepped up big-time with Dallas being down as far as his production goes.
The thing that you learn is just that you have a lot of capable guys. It reconfirms to you that you have a lot of capable guys on this offense.
Q. QB Jalen Hurts said last year towards the end, he said again all throughout the off-season that this was the first time since his high school year that he was going to be in an offense with the same play caller for consecutive years. What have you noticed at any point off-season or in season where that’s been the case, where you said, okay, the benefit of being in the offense for the second year in a row – (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think you see that a lot in his reads, because that’s where it’s going to show up the most because you’re running similar plays that he’s been running for two years. He’s seeing different defenses. He’s going to different places with the football based off of what the defense is doing. One of my favorite plays that he made in the game [Sunday] was a four-yard gain to [WR] Zach Pascal. Well, why? Why would that be your favorite play? Because it was designed to go one place with the ball. We actually got the coverage we thought we were going to get, and it didn’t go there because it was just a little cloudy over there. So he, hey, oh, man, they’re probably in the coverage that we thought we were going to play on this one; I’m going to deliver a ball there, eh, looks cloudy, ball to Zach Pascal for a four-yard gain. That’s a sweet play.
Those are showing you his growth, his development of that, and that’s a play that we’ve been running for a couple years and that he has a lot of reps on and he knows what it’s supposed to look like; when it’s not looking that way, he moves on. I think that’s a really good example of that, and that’s one of the plays we showed in the team meeting today of just really good quarterback play.
Q. When you guys released S Anthony Harris in the summer and then he came back for a week on the practice squad and went off to look for another job, what were the conversations like, and how do you make sure things stay positive even when a guy gets cut in case you do need to bring him back? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Well, I just think that goes back to the relationships that you form. Listen, when you have to make a cut, it’s not harder on anybody more than the player that’s getting cut. It’s always hard on me. I always feel like, hey, we’ve built these relationships, and this is a hard part of the job, but it’s not harder for me than it was [S] Anthony [Harris].
I guess, in that conversation, it’s never going to be a comfortable conversation, it’s never going to be a conversation that neither guys want to remember. So, it’s the time that leads up to that, that’s what matters, right, or the time after that, that connection. That’s what you want to build.
It makes that conversation with the connection that you actually build throughout with them, it makes that conversation harder, but it also keeps you connected to the guy. In this case, I’m really happy that we have Anthony back here. I missed him. It’s good to see his face again. It’s going to be good to see him out at walk-through today, it’s going to be good to see him at practice tomorrow, and I’m just happy that we have him back.
Q. Have you and QB Jalen Hurts ever reflected or talked about certain plays that he might not have made last year that he’s made this year or is that all unspoken? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: No, we’ve corrected those. We’ve moved from those. You use plays a lot of times like, hey, look what happened last year on this one; you went there with the ball. You’ll use them as references, but it’s more hey, how do we fix the ones that we didn’t make this week and what was really good about the ones we did make this week so we can continue to move forward.
But you always use plays from the past to help get a coaching point across, whether that’s how a quarterback reads a certain play or how a receiver runs a certain route or how an offensive line blocks a specific play.
We have this great computer system, and we have these great video coordinators led by [Vice President of Football Technology] Pat Dolan that have so much film available to us and that we can pull from to use as teaching points.
Q. The way you’ve won these last two games, do you feel like your team has found another gear here as you’ve hit the home stretch of the regular season? (Ed Kracz)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think what we just feel like is that we’re improving and that we’re getting better each day, and that’s our goal. That’s all you can really think about. You can’t think about when we were 1-0, we couldn’t think about being 12-1. All we could focus on is how do we get better today. How do we get better today? How do we get better today? Okay, we clinched a playoff spot, but nobody is thinking about the playoffs. All we’re thinking about is how we get better today.
I guess what you’ve seen the last couple weeks is just improvements. We left a lot of things on the table that we corrected and that we’ve corrected the last two days and we sorted it out in front of the team today and we’ll get better from those things, too, and that’s the goal is to improve so we’re a little bit better next week.
Q. Getting back to the D-line, the fact that DE Brandon Graham is playing fewer snaps than he has, how has that made him more effective? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Well, it keeps him fresh, there’s no doubt. Like I said about — it keeps the defensive line fresh. It not just benefits [DE Brandon Graham] BG, it benefits all of them, that they’re staying fresh and that they have everything they can give on each play. They know they’ve got to make those plays count.
He’s done a great job of taking advantage of the reps that he’s gotten, and even though BG is not out there at times, like he’s the leader. He’s one of the biggest leaders on this football team, and people thrive off of — it’s contagious, his energy is contagious. I think he’s just having a great year.
Q. It’s been over a calendar year now that you’ve sort of handed the play calling off to Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen. You always say you wanted to put your signature on everything about this team. How is taking that CEO approach as a coach, how has that helped you? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think it helps me in situational football big time. One thing that I think that I really feel is a benefit is hey, [Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] and myself and the offensive staff are putting a plan together. Then starting about tomorrow, I’ll be able to really dive into every situation that happens, and that means throughout the league, to put ourselves in scenarios throughout the league that are going to — so we’ve went through it before it happens.
At that point Shane is going to be like, all right, what am I going to call in this scenario and this scenario. Now we go through all that, but Shane is going to really have a feel for that, and I think that’s — when he’s there studying certain things, orders of how he’s going to call some things here and there, I’m able to do some of the things that are going to be necessary for 4th down decisions or two-minute decisions or four-minute decisions or some of those things that I have to really be on, because we know the margin of error in this league is very small. I have to be on my duties as a head coach, I have to be on those things and be convicted on when I’m making decisions and not just blind conviction, conviction based off of major, major studying. After the plan is in, after Shane and myself and the offensive staff have put the plan in, that’s kind of the way we kind of go. I’m working on that part of it, Shane’s working on this part of it, and I feel a big benefit from that, and I know we’re getting better in our process each day with that and each week.
Q. As you’ve studied offenses and coaches throughout the years and scouted prospects, did Mississippi State Head Coach Mike Leach resonate with you? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, he did. He’ll be missed. I know that he’s — particularly our guys in our building, I know he’s touched guys in our building with [QB] Gardner [Minshew] playing for him, with [T] Andre [Dillard] playing for him. So yeah, he was always exciting to watch, the way his team — as a wide receiver, as a quarterback, anytime a team is throwing it 60 times, you’re like, what did they do right there, how did they do this, and we’ve definitely gotten plays from his tape that we still run today and that we liked and that were very interesting.
I just think he had an awesome way about him of everything, the way he coached, the energy he coached with, the way he talked to the media. There was just a lot of things to like about the man. He’ll be missed in this sport.
But I think [Arizona Cardinals Head Coach] Kliff Kingsbury said it; he left this sport better than before he was in it. I think that’s a pretty cool legacy to have, that you leave a place better, you leave your profession better than when you came in, and that’s a tribute to who Coach Leach was as a coach, as a person and everything.
Q. You’ve spent a lot of time with Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus throughout your career. How cool is it to look across the sideline and see someone you essentially grew your coaching career alongside? (Breland Moore)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, that is cool. That is really cool because I have a lot of respect for [Chicago Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus] Flus and everything that he stands for. I think he’s a phenomenal coach. I really do. We had a lot of talks, whether that’s hey, how we’re getting ready for practice, how we’re going to do this segment of practice or this and that. [Former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach] Frank [Reich] kind of would set the stage and he’d say, you two figure out how you’re going to go through this in training camp or whatnot, and I’m happy for him because it’s well-deserved that he is in the position he’s in right now as the head coach of a good organization.
It is neat. You build friendships with people. He probably lived – [jokingly] I probably couldn’t have thrown a baseball to his house from where I lived, from my house, but some guys – [QB] Jalen [Hurts] probably could. Our families got to know each other. He’s got a great family, and he’s a great person. He’s a great football coach.
I’m happy for him that he’s a head coach, and I just know how good of a coach he is, too, and that we’re going to have to be on our stuff because he’s going to have them on their stuff.
Q. I don’t know if you’ve seen the video yet, but speaking of QB Jalen Hurts, Dallas Cowboys LB Micah Parsons had some thoughts on Jalen’s position in the MVP race and what it’s attributed to. Did you have any kind of response to Micah thinking it was a system situation more than Jalen and what he’s been able to do? (Taryn Hatcher)
NICK SIRIANNI: Honestly, I’m not familiar with that yet. I imagine someone will bring it to my attention next week. I don’t know. We’re worried about the Bears and the Bears only.
Q. QB Jalen Hurts right now leads the NFL in completion percentage from the pocket. What have you seen he’s most improved on – (John Clark)
NICK SIRIANNI: Some interesting stats. They can pull any stat.
Q. 73 percent from the pocket. His anticipation throws, the timing throws and the deep ball throws from the pocket, what has he most improved on? (John Clark)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think what he’s most improved on is just his timing with everything, how he’s seeing the field. It all starts with that. You can be as accurate as you want. You can be the most accurate person in the world, but if you’re not seeing it in time, these defensive backs close quick and if you’re not seeing it in time, these defensive linemen can close quick.
I think the biggest improvement he just keeps getting better at is his vision and how he’s seeing it, and it’s because he works his butt off. He’s always here. He’s always in this building. It doesn’t matter what time of day. It doesn’t matter if the players are in that day or not. He’s always here. Always working on his craft. Always working on getting his body physically ready. Always working on his mind, making sure that’s mentally ready. A tribute to Jalen; he’s a stud.