Q. Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman talked about trying to build around QB Jalen Hurts, letting him have what he needs. Do you feel like he has what he needs to maximize his skillset? (Dave Zangaro)
COACH SIRIANNI: We’re constantly building and so, right now, it’s just a little portion of it, right? We’ve built through free agency a little bit. But we have a lot of draft picks that are about to come up. There can always be guys added to the roster later on. And so, it’s building. I never really think you’re ever a finished product. You’re always building, trying to get better, but I am excited about the pieces we’ve added so far.
Q. How about your back seven on defense. How do you think you stand there? (Zach Berman)
COACH SIRIANNI: Again, we have so much more time. I think about last year, even after the draft, where we added an important piece to our back seven with [CB] Steve Nelson. I feel good about the guys that we have on the team. Obviously, you have [CB] Darius Slay. He’ll be mad that I said ‘Darius’, but Slay, who is a high quality corner we all know.
And I think we have a lot of good, young corners that showed us a lot in practice, that maybe didn’t get the time to go out on the field last year to play, that we’re really excited about. And I don’t want to miss anybody. But you have [CB] Zech McPhearson, obviously. You have [CB] Tay Gowan, you have [CB] Mac McCain, [DB] Kary Vincent – all those different guys who are young first-year players. And we have a great secondary group of coaches. We have [Eagles Defensive Backs coach] Dennard Wilson, [Eagles Assistant Defensive Backs coach] D.K. McDonald and, obviously, [Eagles Defensive Coordinator] Jonathan Gannon working with the secondary. I can’t wait to see how those guys continue to develop their game, because they’re going to have some great coaching.
Q. How involved are you involved with QB Jalen Hurts this offseason in terms of the work he does, whether it’s with a personal quarterback coach? And what are some things he does need to improve on this summer for next season? (Eliot Shorr-Parks)
COACH SIRIANNI: Well, obviously at this point in time, you’re not supposed to be talking football with your players. But [QB] Jalen [Hurts] and I talk all the time, not about football but different things. And obviously at the end of your meeting with every player that we’ve had it with – again, I’m not even through all the players yet –we just talked a little bit about what he did well, what we need to improve on, where they’re working out, any tips about the organization and how we can make that better. So, that everything’s on the table.
It’s like that with every player. Obviously, you even have a closer relationship with the quarterback because you’re with them all the time. So, it was no different there with Jalen.
Q. Yesterday, Howie suggested that Jalen was doing some interesting things in the offseason to improve himself. Maybe he came up to you and said it, or you just heard, has it filtered back to you what those specifics are? (Jeff McLane)
COACH SIRIANNI: He’s working with different people. I’m not going to put his business out there as far as – but he’s working with some people down in Southern California to throw. I let you guys kind of do the digging there to find out more with that. But this guy – again, I go back to the type of guys that maximize their football potential and what are the common denominators of those guys. They have high character, they have high football IQ, they love football, they’re tough and they’re competitive. Jalen is all of those things.
And so, Jalen is working on trying to get every angle he can to get better. Whether that’s working with a quarterback guy or studying film, different ways of doing that. He’s doing everything he can do to get better.
Q. You re-signed on a lot of players in sort of depth roles, like RB Boston Scott and guys like that. Do you think there’s a correlation between the connection in the emphasis in wanting to bring those guys back into the building? (Bo Wulf)
COACH SIRIANNI: Yes, of course. I would definitely say that I get attached to guys and they know exactly the type of job they can do and what they do for you. That’s exciting to be able to have a guy come back that performed a big role for you. And was it the role that [RB] Boston [Scott] wanted early on? Probably not. With [RB] Miles [Sanders] carrying the heavy load of it and [RB] Kenny Gainwell playing a lot. We had a good stable of backs last year.
But I really value Boston as a player, as a teammate and I’m glad we have him back and I’m glad we have some of those guys back in those roles.
Q. What role is WR Zach Pascal going to fit inside this offense? (Chris Franklin)
COACH SIRIANNI: That’s still to be determined, right? I know the role that [WR] Zach [Pascal] played for us when he was in Indianapolis. Early on in Zach’s career, to me, he was one of the best four or five wide receivers in the NFL. What I mean by that, he was the fourth guy. He can back up every position in the slot, he can back up on the outside, he played a big key in special teams, he brought an element of toughness to the group. And so that’s what his role was early on.
Then the following year, in 2019, he was like our number three. That got elevated with some injuries to being our number two and number one at times. Where you really like Zach is, again, that toughness that he brings. A lot is to be determined still with the group, but it’s an important piece that we’re excited to have. And we know the type of football character that Zach brings to the Philadelphia Eagles and to our organization. Couldn’t be more happy about Zach being an Eagle.
Q. In terms of LB Haasan Reddick, how do you expect to use him? Is he a defensive end or stand-up guy? (Zach Berman)
COACH SIRIANNI: There’s 31 other teams that want to know exactly how we’re going to use him. And the way I’m going to think about it is we don’t have to make a decision until that first game. I don’t even know who that first game is against. We obviously with many plans. Obviously, you wouldn’t sign a guy to that kind of contract unless we had major plans for him. But I think at this particular time, that’s to our advantage of how we’re going to use him. Obviously, you pay a guy like that to rush the passer, that will be definitely a big part of our plan for him is that that’s what he gets paid to do. And that’s a need that we have that we want him to help fill that role with the rest of the defensive ends that we have on our football team.
Q. Have you guys had any interest from other teams in QB Gardner Minshew, and do you have a sense where his mentality is after expressing that he wanted to be the starter last year? (Jimmy Kempski)
COACH SIRIANNI: Sure. Again, I don’t want to get into anybody else’s business – that’s with other teams or anything like that – but all I can say is I value [QB] Gardner Minshew very much. He helped us make the playoffs last year with him being able to step in when Jalen was dinged and play a very good game against the Jets. I mean, that just adds value to him and that adds value for 31 other teams with him. But it also adds value for us as well, knowing that you need good quality backups and I’m sure glad that he is our backup on our football team. And I look forward to continuing to work with him.
Q. You guys made some effort in the wide receiver market whether it be a trade or trade scene you ultimately ended up with Zach and how he was talking about increasing the target score in WR Quez Watkins and WR DeVonta Smith. I’m wondering – it seems like you’re doing one thing but saying the other thing. Do you guys really feel like you need to upgrade at the wide receiver position or are you happy with what you have? (Jeff McLane)
COACH SIRIANNI: You’re always looking to improve the team in any way you can. I’m very pleased with this wide receiver group. I’m constantly thinking about other groups I’ve had in the past, how this group stacks up against that group. ‘This group was the number one passing offense in the NFL, how does this group stack up?’ And I’m very pleased with our wide receiver group.
We’re young, we know that. We’re a young wide receiver group that’s still developing. I don’t think you’ve seen the max potential of any of these guys, I know you haven’t seen the max potential of any of these guys. And we’re going to be on their butts all offseason, all training camp, to get that max potential out of them. And I understand what you’re saying, we’re obviously looking to improve our team in any way that we can and there’s rumors out there of what we’ve been involved in.
But I’m very excited about this wide receiver group. I love the addition of Zach to the wide receiver group. And again, this group is growing as a young group.
Q. Just to follow up on Howie’s statements about the targets. Obviously at some point last year you decided a certain type of offense. Do you feel like you have to get back to being a top passing offense to get to where you guys want to be? (Jeff McLane)
COACH SIRIANNI: I think you see it many different ways throughout the NFL of how teams get it done. And you see that you can be a top ranked run team, you can be a top ranked pass team to get it done. The main stats that we’re really always focused on are, ‘Did we win the explosive play battle and did we win the turnover battle?’ And so those are the stats that I really always dive into is did we win those two? And you saw last year that even in a run heavy offense, we were able to be an explosive pass offense with the amount of explosive plays we made.
I don’t want to corner myself – that’s not the right way to say it – but I don’t want to say that you have to play this way or you have to play that way. We have to do what’s best to be able to win games. And if that’s getting [WR] DeVonta [Smith] 140 targets, that’s what it is. But you want to get those guys and your team – again, I don’t want to give a number of like, ‘This is how many targets DeVonta should get. This is how many targets [TE] Dallas [Goedert] should get.’
Obviously, we want to feed our guys that are making plays. And you can still do that and be a run heavy team and you can still do that when you’re a pass heavy team.
Q. If you look at the playoffs you’re watching these games, and you’re watching the Chiefs versus the Bills and you’re watching the Bengals versus the Rams, all of those teams, except for one with San Francisco getting there, are pass-first offenses. The rest of the league has to – your odds greatly increase if you are that type of offense. (Reporter)
COACH SIRIANNI: That’s fair. You can definitely see that. Again, I’ve been a part of teams that have done it both ways and we’re going to do what we feel like we can do best to win football games. You did get to watch some really great offenses, passing the football during the playoffs. But I truly believe you can win – there’s always a way to win football games in the NFL, you’ve just got to find that way that week of how to do that. Sometimes your team grows into a run heavy team sometimes it grows into a pass heavy team. We don’t have to make that decision of who we are until game one. And really that always evolves. So, I’m not pressed about that, and we are going to work like crazy to get our pass game where we want it to get it better.
At the end of the day, I don’t know where we ended up in the pass game, I think it was maybe 25th or 26th, whatever, that needs to be better. You want to make sure that you’re not deficient in any area because then, obviously, the teams that are game planning against you will have an opportunity to take advantage of that. So, we’re trying to make our weaknesses – I’m not saying that I don’t feel it’s the weakness — but we’re trying to make things that maybe we’re not where we want to be or up to our standard, we’re always trying to get better at those things.
Q. How are you defining explosive plays? (Tim McManus)
COACH SIRIANNI: We’re plus-16 on pass plays and we’re plus-10 on run plays. I know the NFL does it differently. That’s what we deem as our explosive plays for certain reasons, as far as when it comes down to whether you score on – when you have an explosive play. So that’s what our categories have been and that’s what we’ve done. So, we keep our own stat with that.
Q. Howie Roseman said this offseason he has the benefit now of being able to understand your culture and scheme to be able to fit players to the roster. What specific skill sets were missing from your offense last year that you’d like to add? (Bo Wulf)
COACH SIRIANNI: That’s a good question. Every position, the communication piece is the most important piece that Howie and I can have together of, ‘Hey, here’s what the good offenses that I’ve been a part of have been the common denominator.’ What you try to spell out with every position — and I know you guys are obsessed with wideout, so I’ll stay with the wide out, and I guess I am, too — but for instance, for a wide receiver, you always want to spell out the trait that you’re looking for, for instance, wins consistently one-on-one.
Then you want to try to spell out the athletic ability of what it takes to be good at that trait. Body quickness. Play strength. Speed. Whatever it might be. Then, you try to spell out a player that you’ve had in the past that looks like that.
As you kind of build a wide receiver room or a tight end room or a running back room to fit all the different pieces.
So, again, it’s all different body types and body shapes that can make — a guy that’s good at yards after the catch, doesn’t have to be big, strong and physical. He could be. Right? Or he could be small, quick and illusive, right? Again, there are many different ways to get it done.
I felt like we had a lot of those pieces. One piece that we didn’t know if we had right away that we ended up getting in the draft was [RB] Kenny Gainwell, like the Nyheim Hines-type or the Danny Woodhead-type or Austin Eckler-type we had in the past in our offenses.
So that was a good piece. And we’re going to be able to add pieces throughout the draft. We have looked at all that, we know our needs, but again 31 other teams are going to want to know what our needs are and what we believe our needs are. I think some of that is best kept close to the vest.
Q. When you have young wide receivers that you’re trying to project how they are going to grow, how do you do that? How do you know where they can get year to year? (Dave Zangaro)
COACH SIRIANNI: That’s a good question. When we get done with the season, it’s a constant evaluation of our season. It’s a constant evaluation of the guys in the draft, free agency, and different things you’re going to want to do to get better, so you watch the tape.
You watch the tape week in, week out. This guy played good in this game; this guy played okay in that game. Whatever it is. But when you see it as a whole and you’re watching for instance you’re watching inside zone or you’re watching a crosser family in the pass game, you can kind of pinpoint even more so like, ‘This guy’s really good at this. Or this guy’s deficient at this.’ And so, what we try to do as coaches, again, is point out the good things and try to correct the bad things.
That’s what we’re in the process of doing right now, is putting tapes together of, ‘Here’s what [WR] Quez Watkins needs to do to get better and to be a better football next year. This is what Jalen Hurts needs to do to be a better football player next year.’ And that’s our job when they first get in our first week with them, we spell it out for them. ‘Here’s what you need to get better at. And here’s what we want you to succeed at and here’s video evidence of that.’ That’s what we’re in the process of now. As far as projecting, that’s how you do it. You’re just evaluating the whole process and seeing what the guys are good at and what they’re deficient at.
Q. You mentioned you speak to QB Jalen Hurts quite a bit throughout the offseason. There are also a lot of rumors about QB Deshaun Watson and QB Russell Wilson, the draft coming up. Do you offer him reassurances when things like that come up that he’s the quarterback next season? (Eliot Shorr-Parks)
COACH SIRIANNI: I think our actions do that all the time and we’re always communicating, and always talking and our actions show that. I couldn’t be more excited about Jalen Hurts and again the type of player he is, the type of person he is. I know he’s going to continue to develop because of who he is. I couldn’t be more excited to work with him. And I know he knows that. He’s excited to work with us and to build on the good year he had with us last year. He’s our guy and we show it to him with our actions day in, day out.
Q. In the draft, do you and the staff bring specific requirements for each position whether it’s height, weight, speed, measurements? (Zach Berman)
COACH SIRIANNI: It’s like I was saying to [The Athletic report] Bo [Wulf], you go through and you say, ‘Here are the needs for this position.’ And it’s not all — again, I’ll stay with wideouts. It’s not all wideouts are the same. I’ll go on pass teams too. A guy that’s a good yards-after-catch could look like T.Y. Hilton and it could look like Jalen Reagor. He could look like Keenan Allen. He could look like Tyrell Williams. They’re all different body types. You’re looking for the skill set. You’re looking for that specific skill set of what you want out of that wideout.
And again in different ways. You see it throughout the league. The way Deebo Samuel runs with the football, big, strong, physical is different than how Tyrell Williams ran. Tyrell Williams, when we were in San Diego, was a great yards-after-catch guy but in a different way. He led the NFL in yards after catch, I think at 16. But he didn’t run anybody over. He didn’t really make anybody miss. He caught the ball.
He ran his speed to the edge and got yards after the catch on our shallow game. So that can look a lot of different ways. And we just try to spell out the skill set as much as we possibly can so us and the scouts are on the same page of what has succeeded in the past. Again, there are many different ways to do this thing. I’ve been on offenses that are number one in running, and offenses that have been number one in passing. So there are many different ways to do it.
Q. Regarding being a rookie head coach and the challenges he faced — (Reporter)
COACH SIRIANNI: It’s just a lot to balance, because there’s a lot that goes into calling the game. And there’s a lot that goes into preparing the team for the week. The best thing that I had — and I’m kind of hearing your question about challenges, but I’m going to say the best thing I had was experienced play callers on my staff that really helped me. [Eagles offensive coordinator] Shane Steichen really at the end of the day we called the game together, Shane and I. He had called the game in the past with the Chargers.
[Eagles passing game coordinator] Kevin Patullo had done a lot of that, involved in the play calling with Chan Gailey in the college game. [Eagles tight ends coach] Jason Michael as our tight end coach, was the coordinator at Tennessee. [Eagles quarterbacks coach] Brian Johnson as our quarterback coach, who was offensive coordinator at University of Florida.
[Eagles run game coordinator/offensive line coach] Jeff Stoutland, our run game coordinator, has a lot of good ideas in the run game, helped come up with a lot of our ideas in the run game along with Jason Michael. I just had so many guys that were experienced in calling plays so that helped that transition a lot.
I feel very blessed as far as the head coaching part of it that I’ve been around really good coaches in my life. I got to sit at home with my dad, who was — and Coach Hackett is the same way — got to sit home with my dad the first 18 years of my life. I was learning to be a coach right there. I played for probably the winningest college football coach of all time in Larry Kehres, who was a phenomenal head coach, and then my brothers were head coaches. At Easter dinner or 4th of July weekends, I had an opportunity to grow as a coach there at every one of those opportunities. Then there’s been a lot of guys in the NFL that have really helped my career. And these guys know who I’m going to mention. [Colts head coach] Frank Reich has been a great influence on me. So there were definitely challenges, but I felt like my path leading up to that helped prepare me for it and then the guys that I had on my staff really helped that go smoothly.
Q. How did Shane Steichen’s play-calling responsibilities change over the course of the season? (Bo Wulf)
COACH SIRIANNI: As we went through this season, we do everything together. We talk about, ‘Hey, here’s our first down calls, here’s our first 15. Here’s our third down calls. Here’s our red zone calls.’ So we went through it that way. But when we got into the season, it was just I knew what Shane was calling at certain points or I would tell him to call this or he would call that.
Really it was pretty similar throughout the whole year. That’s what we were doing the whole year. And it would free me up at times, where I could talk to Shane, ‘What are our next two or three plays that are coming?’ We would talk it over with Stout. I would talk it over with Shane. ‘Hey, I’d like to see this here and here.’ And we talk about, ‘Hey, here’s our next set of plays that are coming up.’ Shane would call that into the quarterback. Shane would be able to manipulate the way that he wanted that to go, ‘Hey, I want to call this first, this second,’ depending on some things.
That freed me up to be able to go over to the defensive side and say, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ Or, ‘Hey, that was a great job right here.’ You see [Rams head coach] Sean McVay talking to his guys all the time on defense or on offense. And I was able to do that because of the experience of Shane as a play caller or go to the special teams and get them going and break down before we went out for a kickoff or anything like that.
Again, just had so much trust in Shane and the way that he thinks about offense. We think about offense similarly. And it’s just a big benefit for us.
Q. DE Derek Barnett had rough patches last season. Why are you willing to run it back with both of those guys? (Jeff McLane)
COACH SIRIANNI: I had rough patches last season. Jalen [Hurts] had rough patches last season. We believe in those guys. We believe in [DT] Fletcher Cox. We believe in Derek Barnett. Not only of the type of player they are — Fletcher Cox is still dominant in the run game. He’s still a dominant player in the run game that can stop the run. He can still get after the passer. Derek Barnett is everything that embodies what we want in the characteristics of a player. He’s tough. He’s competitive. He’s got high football IQ. He’s got high character. He loves football. And I love Derek Barnett. I love the type of player and the type of person that he is. We just felt like they fit what we want not only as a player but as a person and as a teammate. I’m excited to get those guys back in the roles that they’re going to play this year and on our team.
Q. The pass signings, you can argue that shows the sway you have over personnel. Wonder if your voice is growing in that area and how it’s working with Howie? (Tim McManus)
COACH SIRIANNI: Again, Howie and I talk about everything. Every decision we make we talk through it. Obviously, Howie is in charge of the team and putting the team together. But he’s using all the resources that he has to help do that. We talk about everything. And of course, I thought I want Zach Pascal on this football team. I don’t think that’s a secret here. But my job is to explain how we would use Zach Pascal. My job is to explain what I see in the player and again the use of it, or if it’s on the defensive side of the ball, it’s to explain, as an offensive coach I fear this guy or I don’t fear this guy. That’s kind of how we go about that right there.
Then Howie’s job is to see if it makes sense for the team. That’s why this is such a great team game, it’s not only every position on the field working in unison to get the job done, but it’s also behind the scenes, too, that you better be on the same page. The parity in this league is so tight that anything that bumps your course off can affect you. Communication is one of those things.
It’s been awesome working with Howie to help build a team that can get back to the playoffs and do damage in the playoffs.
Q. What does it mean for you that Howie got a contract extension that runs concurrent with you? (Jeff McLane)
COACH SIRIANNI: I’m excited about that. One place where I feel like I lucked out as a first-year head coach — the one place I feel very fortunate is that I wasn’t stepping into a situation right alongside a rookie GM. I was stepping into a situation — I’ve said this before in the past — it was very unique for me. I was stepping into a situation with a GM that’s won a Super Bowl. That’s won the NFC East more times than any other NFC East team in the past 15 years. That’s been to the playoffs in the top five in the NFL. I was walking into a situation with a lot of experience, which I valued. I love the fact that I’m going to be working side by side with him for the next three years and continuation on that.
Q. Who is a backup or bottom-of-the roster player that needs to step into a big role this year? (Zach Berman)
COACH SIRIANNI: You’re always looking for all your guys to grow. I mentioned those corners earlier, right? And I don’t want to single out a position group, but since I talked about the corners earlier, I’ll stay in that position group.
Those guys have a great opportunity this year and we believe in those guys. We believe in the skill sets that they have. We believe in the competitiveness, the toughness, the character, the football IQ, the love of football that those guys have. And I’m really excited to see how that plays out.
There are four young guys. We obviously have two great veterans there with [CB] Avonte [Maddox] and with [CB Darius] Slay and then we have four young guys that are vying for a position. What a battle that’s going to be this year to be able to see who steps up and takes that position.
I’m excited for those guys. We talked about the wideouts; I’m excited for that group of guys to continue to get better. And we’re going to need everybody to get better. I’m going to need to get better. Kevin Patullo is going to need to get better and Brian Johnson is going to need to get better and [Eagles defensive coordinator] Jonathan Gannon’s going to need to be better. We’re all fighting every day to do that. It’s kind of cool coming into something like this.
We were in a meeting the other day that was showing all the highlights of the NFL of the whole year, and it gets you excited, can’t wait to get back to work and keep building this team and developing our players so we can be the last ones standing. But we don’t think too far ahead. We just think one day at a time. But it’s been kind of cool to see all that stuff this year.