Q. DT Fletcher Cox, he expressed that he’s having a tough time settling in while playing two different positions along the defensive front. Have you talked to him and Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon? And how are you working to kind of resolve that? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I’m always in open communication with everybody on this team. I think that’s my job as the head football coach. And so it’s our job as coaches to put Fletch in a position to make plays because he’s one of our better players.
And so, that’s been a conversation with Jonathan, to make sure that we’re getting Fletch in position to make plays. And then when it is his job to eat up double teams, he’s got to do that at the best of his ability. Which I think he’s doing a great job of that because it’s freeing up [DT] Javon [Hargrave].
So, yes, there’s constant communication any time when — I don’t want to say when anyone’s frustrated. We need our best players to make plays. We talk through it and talk through every situation there is. So I’ve been in communication with both of them.
Q. What did you see from T Jordan Mailata in practice this week and what’s his status for Sunday? (Mike Kaye)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, he’ll be up. And I just saw a guy who was ready to play. And, yeah, so I’m excited that he’s back and ready to roll. Really a tribute to him and the work that he’s put in, our doctors, our trainers.
We got great doctors and trainers, we really do. And our strength staff. So really excited that they were able to get a quick turnaround with something that could have been longer.
Q. Is T Lane Johnson out? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Lane will be out.
Q. Going back to Tim’s question on Fletcher. What’s it been like for you as a rookie head coach when you have a younger player versus, say, a veteran who’s had success in different schemes and maybe is comfortable? If you have a veteran player that’s had success in a previous scheme, it’s a little bit more difficult, I would think, than having a young player who’s just starting. How’s that dichotomy been for you? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I got you. So I just think everything that we do as coaches has to have a strong ‘why’. Why are we doing things?
And I think that’s just — I kind of grew up in a coaching world — when I was a kid, it was, like, ‘Do it.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because I said so.’
And that is not how I think the most effective learning is done or the most effective, ‘Hey, we’re all on this together’ is done.
Like, when you explain the why behind things and why we’re doing things and how we’re doing things and the reason behind it, my experience is that not everyone might like it, but they at least understand why.
So that’s always going to be the first and foremost thing of how we kind of tell a guy why we’re doing a certain defense or why we’re doing a certain offense, is really explain that why and break it down to them.
And not only do you get, you know, guys that buy into it, but they also execute it at a higher level because they know the reason why we’re doing things. So hopefully that answered your question.
Q. Are you going to share who’s playing right tackle? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’m not going to share that because it’s a competitive advantage for us. You’ll see on Sunday.
Q. Can you break down for me why WR DeVonta Smith’s jab is so good? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Off the line of scrimmage?
Q. Or at the top of his routes. I don’t know what you would consider the jab. (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I always consider the jab at the first point of the line of scrimmage. And I think this will resonate with Philadelphia fans, that any time I teach a wide receiver how to release off the line of scrimmage, I have an Allen Iverson clip ready to go.
And because it’s very much like a crossover. So why was Allen Iverson – I know this is like, ‘Man, why is he talking about basketball?’
Why was Allen Iverson good at the crossover? One thing, and you hear him say this all the time, is that he’s fast, he was quick. And so, people had to react to his first step.
And so, when he took that hard jab one way, they had to react to it because he was quick and then he was able to go back the other way. And that’s really what receivers are. And because DeVonta’s fast and because he’s quick and he has a quick, fast first release, first step, they have to react to when he jabs.
And then the other thing on top of that, he’s making it a meaningful jab. You know, some receivers will just kind of — I mean, I know you can’t really see what I’m doing, but put their foot in the ground.
Well, he puts his foot in the ground, he puts his body that way, and puts his head that way to really get them going and then he crosses them over to, say, on — you know, how Allen Iverson used to do it.
So that’s what makes him so effective. Again, his first quick step and then his technique in which he does it with how he gets that guying leaning that way and then come off and do it.
So that’s exciting. Because that’s not something a lot of guys have to do a lot in college. And so, he’s just a quick — again, I always felt like he is a technically sound wide receiver, and he was coached really well at Alabama. And he’s a student of the game.
So, it’s no surprise. And so, he has that understanding to that, too, that you really got to move them to get off the line of scrimmage.
Q. How close is LB Davion Taylor ready for an increased role? (Ed Kracz)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, he’s done well in practice. It’s a shame that he had the calf injury early on. But he’s done really well in practice, and I know he’s ready to go.
And, again, we got to do what’s best for our team to put the guys in position to win and the players out there. So, I expect to see him out there this week and make some meaningful plays out there for us, especially on special teams. And then we’ll see how defense goes.
Q. I wanted to ask you: Is there a specific Iverson clip you show? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Well, there was a special on Allen Iverson and I don’t remember — I mean, shoot, I grew up a huge Allen Iverson fan, all the way back to his Georgetown days.
And so, when I was growing up in New York seeing Syracuse games, seeing him play against Lawrence Moten and Kerry Kittles, I’m showing my basketball nerd a little bit here.
But there was a special and I don’t know if it was on HBO or ESPN, I don’t know. But it is — he’s talking about exactly — almost verbatim of what I just said, of how he would cross them.
And I think everybody’s — now, there’s about five clips they show as they play it. But the most iconic one, right, is against Michael Jordan. And it kind of gets into that.
So, it shows him crossing guys up, doing this and that. But then the clip and the scene kind of come together with his crossover on Michael Jordan.
Q. Do you think you’ll have him here? I hear he’s probably available for a fee. (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: [Laughing] He could teach our wideouts something. That’s for sure.
Q. A coaching philosophy question. Not necessarily about Lane Johnson specifically, but you have a lot of players here that have to all have personal matters of some variety. As a coach, what’s the line you navigate between the professional relationship and the personal relationship? And how far are you willing to go in the personal relationship? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I mean, as far as I need to go. I mean, the connecting is our first thing. And I’m here for our players, no matter what.
They have to know that about me, that I’m here for them no matter what. And there’s not a – to me, we spend so much time together. And it’s so important for me that we connect, and good teams connect, there is no line for me.
We’re here for our players; through the good times, through the bad times, whether it’s the situation Lane’s going through, or whether it’s [CB] Darius Slay, who had a baby yesterday, right?
And so, super – just always want to be – have that relationship with our players. Because I’ve said this before: Your initial connection to players comes because the players know you can help get them better.
In the grand scheme of things, that’s where the relationship starts. This guy can help me get better as a football player and help me reach the goals that I have as a football player.
And then from there, you can grow so much with the relationship that you have with a player, coach and player, coach and coach, everything. Player to player.
And so, I – when you have tight bonds – like, you can’t ever put a line on it, like, ‘I’m only willing to get this close with it.’ No.
Like, when you’re tight with somebody – I know when I’m tight with somebody, I’m going to work a little bit harder for them. And it’s hard to say that, because we work so hard, these guys work so hard, our coaches work so hard.
And it’s, like, there’s no way I can work any harder than I’m already working, right? But there is. And the only way there is, is if you have something deep down, and it’s like, ‘I really care about that person. Like, I’m willing to go a little bit further that I didn’t even know I could because I care about that person.’ And that’s a strong bond.
And that’s – you know, love gets you to go do things that you didn’t think you could do and go further. So that – yeah, there’s no line there.
It’s just I want to be close with all our guys and want to get to know them personally, every one of the guys on our football team.
Q. When you look at Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey, do you see any similarities with a guy like RB Kenny Gainwell, for example? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, he’s a really good football player, as we know. He’s been really good in this league for a while.
There’s some of those strength things. I think one of the things that Christian’s really good at is he has great play strength and he’s got great hands.
Those are two qualities that I see in Kenny Gainwell. And I don’t want to – you asked the question about it, so I’m not, by any means, trying to compare Kenny and Christian. Because they’re both good players, one’s been doing it for a long time. Kenny’s just, obviously, starting.
But I do see the similarities in that play strength and I see the similarities in the ability to catch the football. I think sometimes when you get a back, it’s, like – and you want to move them around and you want to put him in stuff out of the backfield, and you want to put him in the slot and you want to put him outside.
Well, when you start to put the guy outside and you put the guy in the slot, that’s another – I just want to educate everybody, that’s another level of hands that you have to have.
Like, to go outside and do what receivers do, which is different from the backs coming from the backfield, that’s a different level of hands that you have to have.
Meaning, like, if you have to have a six to do this, you have to have an eight to be out there wide. So, that’s what I really see Christian doing and that’s where I’m seeing that Kenny can be strong, that he has such strong hands at the point of attack and just can pluck the ball out of the air.
Q. As an offensive coach, what do you notice first about the Carolina defense? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Speed. Fast. They can run around and make plays. They’re fast off the edge. They got speed at each level. They’re well coached.
I think you always look at it, like, ‘Does this team play hard? Yeah. Is this team in the right positions and playing with good fundamentals? Yeah.’
So, you know they’re well coached and that’s a tribute to their coaches over there in Carolina. But the main thing that sticks out is that they got speed.
But you know what, we got speed, too. But that’s the main thing that I can see when I watch the tape in all the tape that we’ve watched this week.
Q. What’s your philosophy on practice squad development, those guys behind the scenes? We heard that you guys do a session of work with the special teams players. What’s your overall philosophy on that and how do you find that, like, the next Colts WR Zach Pascal? (Mike Kaye)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, sure that’s a good question. So, the philosophy is there is prepare just like you’re getting ready to play the game.
But, how do you do that when – how do you prepare like you’re getting ready to play the game when you’re actually running the opposite team’s plays? That’s hard.
But they’re, obviously – we’re so much about practice. You get better from practice, you get better from practice. You stay in this lane of getting better every single day by how you practice.
So, that’s their first job right away. But every day – I mean, I don’t mind sharing this with you guys.
Every Wednesday, we have a five-play period that is just developmental to end practice. And that’s with everybody out there. And that’s with the veteran’s watching, too.
And so, they’re getting the reps of the plays that we’re running. And every Wednesday we do the same thing, but in the red zone. So, it’s field and then red zone.
And then every Friday, we have a competition with the rookies with one-on-ones. So, we’ll actually end practice where a corner will go against a receiver in front of the whole the team. And we usually do five of those things.
And we always get an extra workout in. That’s something I’ve always done in the past, get the extra work in on a Sunday of a game where half the league – I don’t know whether it’s half the league or not, maybe three-fourths of the league aren’t doing anything with the practice squad guys there.
We’re working individual drills with them, working routes with them, and working everything we are with them. So, you know, those are the guys that we’re going to have to count on those guys and they’re helping you get your team better.
And so, that’s a big part of it. It’s a long year. There’s bumps and bruises throughout the way. And you got to have those guys ready to play.
And so being a college coach first, I think what I was taught as a college coach was always recruit, retain, develop.
That’s what was taught to me in the beginning. Recruit, get good players in here, retain them, you know, keep them eligible, making sure they’re doing the right things, and develop them.
Well, you know, it’s the same thing here. You go through the draft process, you don’t get your pick of, ‘I’ll take that guy, or recruit him hard.’ You go through the draft process, you know, it’s being really sound there with your evaluations. And once you get him here, develop him.
That’s always stuck with me. And we’re looking for every way to develop them. I think that’s not – what we do – just all the places I’ve been around, that’s not quite the norm as far as what we do with our scout team guys. And they’re working hard at it.
Q. What have you seen from QB Gardner Minshew over the first four weeks? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: That’s really been important for him knowing that he hasn’t been here for training camp, him getting 5, 10 reps every week with our offense, that’s huge, right? For him to be able to do that.
So, yeah, I just see the competitiveness out of Gardner and the playmaking ability. And it’s fun to see it when you’re sitting there back there coaching instead of when he was 19-of-20 against us when he played Jacksonville versus the Colts in 2020. He didn’t miss a pass.
So, it’s fun to kind of watch him run around. He’s doing a good job and I’m glad he’s here.
Q. What about the meeting room, what is Gardner like? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I think he’s great. He’s a great addition to our quarterback room, he’s got good insight, good energy. I really like our quarterback room. There are great conversations in there to help [QB] Jalen [Hurts] get ready to play.