Q. In a game like this where you’re facing one of the greatest players of all time and the reigning Super Bowl champs, do you have to kind of guard against your younger players changing the way they play and maybe trying to play differently? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: That’s been our message right from the beginning. Regardless of who we’re playing, is play within yourself, play within your game.
And that will be enough. Because I think when you press, when you’re playing – whether it’s a Thursday night game, whether it’s a playoff game, when you press like that, that’s not what you want.
You want to play the same way, every single time. And that’s been our message from the beginning. That’s been our message this week, as well. Just play within yourself, know your role, play within yourself and good things will happen.
Q. I was wondering how this week has gone for you now that you’re almost there, you’re almost at game day. As far as preparation goes, did you have a firm plan coming in? And I wanted to know how many adjustments, because it’s your first time doing this as a head coach, the short week stuff. (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: I know it’s my first time as a head coach doing it, but it’s clearly not our first time since we’ve been in the NFL.
Just like when you develop your coaching philosophy, you take things from the past of what you have done, and you twist it and tweak it the way you want it.
So, I’ve been in some good places where we had good plans for Thursday night and the preparation felt right as an offensive coordinator. The preparation felt right and we kind of followed that mode with making slight adjustments.
And so, I feel really good about the preparation that we did and the situations we put ourselves in through the week.
It started, to be truthfully honest with you, it started with Sunday night at my house with some coaches coming over.
When we landed – my kids were already asleep – when we landed, I brought some of the coaches over to my house, kind of like in that old high school football thing, like, ‘Hey, come over to my house, let’s go and let’s start planning a little bit.’
And the coaches that weren’t calling the game, they did planning – they did a lot of work beforehand. I won’t say a lot, but they had a big chunk of it done beforehand to be able to prep me and show me some things to catch me up.
And so, it was kind of cool because that first part – definitely that Sunday was cool because it reminded me of coaches coming over to my dad’s house or my parents’ house when I was a kid to game plan on that Saturday after a Friday night win.
My brother, in college, does a little of that, too. On Sundays, he’ll bring some of the coaches over to his house on Sundays to prep. So it was finally my opportunity to do that. And I kind of thought that was cool.
Q. Following up on that: How many guys were over at the house? Did you have pizza? How late did you go? And what was kind of the mood of that? Is it more lighthearted than when you’re in the office? Would you still get as much done? How did it go? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: They set us up pretty good at our homes, they really do. The video department, led by [Eagles Vice President of Football Technology] Pat Dolan, he has us all set up at the house. So, we had everything we needed there.
I didn’t get any pizzas. I think [Eagles Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] might have had some Cheez-Its that were left over from my son’s lunch.
But yeah, I mean, after you win, you feel good, you’re talking through it. We had the Chiefs/Bills game on in the background at my house.
And so, it was lighter but it was just – everything was the same in the sense that, it was just going through the process that we normally go through. And it was a couple hours.
But you know what, that’s a good idea. And I’m going to put that on our schedule to make sure next time we have the pizzas ready, whatever the beverage of choice is for the guys, we have all that ready, as well.
And so, I’ve done it a couple different ways. We did it one year in Indy where we stayed – we played a home game – we, obviously, were away.
But we played a home game and we stayed in the locker room and let the traffic go through and we stayed in the locker room for about three hours on that Sunday. And [Colts Head Coach] Frank [Reich] did have pizzas. That’s where he’s better than me on that one, he had pizzas and everything like that. We stayed in the locker room, let the traffic go, and then went. But, it was fun, we had a good time with it.
Q. If TE Dallas Goedert is not cleared to play by tomorrow night, does TE Zach Ertz go back to taking the every down role or do you have to adjust the offensive game plan? And also, how’s DE Derek Barnett coming along? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, as far as, with Zach, Zach’s ready to go. We know we have two really good tight ends. And Zach will be ready to go. And Jack Stoll, we’ll look forward to having [TE] Jack Stoll being able to play, as well.
And so, yeah, we’re excited about the opportunities for guys if Dallas can’t go. And then Derek, yeah, we expect Derek to be up and ready to roll.
Q. What are your teaching points for QB Jalen Hurts on zone reads and RPOs when it comes to him keeping the ball and running? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Read every play independently, don’t get caught up on what you’ve seen on tape. We talk about what we’ve seen on tape, but knowing that he’s a different type of player and that teams will play you a little bit differently than what you expect.
So, really, read every play independently of whoever you’re reading. Just make sure you go through your read just like you would in a pass play, knowing that things can adjust.
And then, also, I think Jalen has a good sense of this, anyway, of how to get down and how to not take big hits. Where I don’t know if you see that with a lot of quarterbacks – there are a lot of quarterbacks in the league that don’t know how to take that hit on a zone read.
And I think he naturally has good instincts to be able to do that. But that’s always — you know, we don’t want him to — what we would say to a running back or a tight end on the — they catch a ball on the boundary, and they have the ball on the boundary, to put it in that outside arm, keep it away from the defense and use your stiff arm or play pound into them. those are kind of the words that we would use.
And, obviously, we don’t want Jalen doing that. So, taking care of himself, taking care of his body. Because we know that that’s part of our offense and we don’t want him to take big hits on that.
So those are two major coaching points that we give him, Jeff, that we really stand by.
Q. Have you found that more teams are not using the unblocked defender, the typical edge defender, as the one to account for Jalen? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Teams are always going to change up the way they do that. And that’s — you know, for sure. Sometimes it’s going to be that defensive end, sometimes they’re going to scrape the linebacker over to – they are going to pinch the D-end, scrape the linebacker over the top, sometimes they are going to take the extra safety and put him down there.
When you’re good at that stuff because of who your quarterback is, you’re going to see the different looks. So, yes, we’ve seen all the different looks that you can get.
And, that’s similar to my experience with a good running team. When you’re a good running team, you’re going to get unscouted looks, as well. You’re going to get different fronts, guys off the perimeter, guys off perimeter both sides. You’re going to see defensive-end stunts in the run game.
And that’s no different here in the zone read game. Teams aren’t going to just say, ‘I’m doing this and that’s it.’ They’re going to show you different presentations and different looks.
And that’s our job as coaches to know — you know, we know the different looks that a defense goes through to stop the zone read or stop a quarterback run. And we just have to be ready to adjust when they have those different things with our little adjustments, as well.
So, as football is, it’s a game of chess and you’re just matching move to move as the defense goes.
Q. With the way that the team kind of battled back against the Panthers, we’ve seen young teams kind of fall apart early when stuff snowballs. But I was just curious with ‘connect’ being one of your key principals, how do you think that’s gone within your locker room, within your coaching staff through five games? (Mike Kaye)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, good question, Mike. I think, again, that connect thing that we talk about, that’s why it’s our very first core value.
You’ll fight a little bit harder, even though you think you can’t fight any harder, but you’ll fight a little bit harder for the guys you care about and love.
And that’s definitely what you see and that’s why we try to build that as much as we possibly can. Because you don’t want to let anyone done. Offense doesn’t want to let defense down, defense doesn’t want to let offense down. Same thing with special teams. Coaches don’t want to let players down. Players don’t want to let coaches down.
And so, you just find yourself fighting and digging just with every inch of yourself to be able to give everything you got to the guy next to you and then the rest of the sidelines.
So, yeah, it was awesome to see in Carolina, just the fight. And that’s a tribute to our leadership on this team, as well. Our captains, our veteran players.
Even our young guys, some of the young guys that we have that, they have good leadership ability to keep it, one-play mentality, dog mentality, move on to the next play.
And so, that was, obviously, a good win for us and it showed a lot of character and a lot of character that this team has because of the players that we have on this team.