Q. Last night, you spoke about the physicality level of LB T.J. Edwards, what he’s been playing over the past month. From your perspective with the extension today, what made the team want to get this done now? And a follow up to that is, I guess, specifically, over the past month, what have you seen in him and what does he do so well with what Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon asks him to do? (Josh Tolentino)
NICK SIRIANNI: Just a good player. He’s playing really good football right now. So excited to have him locked up for next year.
As far as what we’re asking him to do, is just be around the ball, be physical to the football. When you watch [LB] T.J. [Edwards] come after the ball, he’s getting some production in the pass game, but when you watch him come and get an attempt at the tackle, he’s always punching at the ball.
You really felt that. I felt that big time. He had a hit on the sideline in the Denver game where he really came after the ball and punched at it. I remember saying over the headset, ‘Man, I would never want to get punched by that right there.’
So, he’s just really physical to the football. We talk a lot about strip attempts, and you can see they’re starting to – our guys are continuing to get attempts and sometimes these come in bundles.
So, the way he punches at that thing, the way he’s violent to that football, is really something that is noticeable, and I know the ball carriers feel, and they got to be able to protect against that.
Q. What’s the latest on RB Jordan Howard, LB Davion Taylor and LB Shaun Bradley? (Mike Kaye)
NICK SIRIANNI: [LB] Shaun [Bradley] has a shoulder sprain. He should be good this week.
[LB] Davion [Taylor] has a knee sprain, most likely he’s going to be heading to IR as we get more information.
[RB] Jordan Howard, he also has a knee sprain. Most likely he’ll be out this week, don’t know that for sure yet. Has a chance to play next week.
Q. How much did you know about CB Darius Slay before you got here? And what have you learned about him since you’ve been here? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: I knew, obviously, how tight he was in coverage. I don’t think there were a lot of times that we went against him.
I want to say 2015 with the Chargers might have been the only time that we –
Q. He picked off former Chargers QB Philip Rivers. (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, that’s right, he did, at the end of the half. But we knew he was really sticky in coverage.
Then, you just know about the good players around the league, even if you don’t go against them just because of watching different highlight shows, knowing about the league, and everything like that.
So, I always knew he was a good player. When you’re around him, he just has a contagious personality, contagious leadership, just loves being around football every day, ready to come to work every single day.
And now, what I’m seeing with the 11 games I have been with him is like, ‘Man, he’s really good with that football in his hands. He gets that football in his hands, he can go.’
[Jokingly] And so, that makes me think maybe I got to get him a couple reps on offense and get him some touches. But I just, again, I just see a player that embodies this get better every single day [mentality], come to work every single day. I just think he’s truly happy to be a football player, and what a dream that we all have as a coach, as a player, we’re living out our childhood dreams.
You know how grateful you are when you live out your childhood dreams, it makes you even work harder. It makes you work harder at it. So, I see him just so grateful to be an NFL player, and then he takes advantage of all his opportunities by working every day to get better at his craft so he can be one of the best in the league.
Q. Obviously, the last four weeks you guys have averaged like 216, 217 yards rushing per game and everything and it just so happens to coincide side with T Lane Johnson coming back from his absence. How much has he helped kind of stabilize that offensive line? How big a role has he had in your running success in these last four games? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Huge role. When I look at our offensive line it’s led by 62 [C Jason Kelce] and 65 [T Lane Johnson]. I know Jason sets the table for everything of what we’re going to do, where we’re going with the point, everything like that. And it’s those two guys really, really carry us.
And [T] Jordan [Mailata] is playing good football and Lane is playing good football and [T/G] Jack Driscoll is playing good football, when [C/G] Nate Herbig is getting in, he’s playing good football.
But it starts with those two guys. It starts with Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce. Lane has been playing outstanding. He’s just so big and powerful. To me, he’s the best tackle that I’ve been around in my 12, 13 years in the NFL.
He’s somebody that can lockdown his side in pass protection, is powerful and technically sound in the run game of fitting double-team blocks on his way to the linebacker.
That was on full display yesterday, and it’s been on full display for the last four weeks.
Q. I know you’re not literally negotiating the contracts, but I imagine you have input on who you want here long term. The players you’ve signed to extensions here mid-season, why are they the players you want as foundation players here going forward? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: You’re always going to start with talent, right? You always start with, ‘Is this guy a good football player that we want to move forward with?’ So, talent is always the first thing you think about.
And then you want the right type of guys in the locker room leading, right? And you want to reward the guys that are good football players and good people, because I think when you talk about high-character guys, they’re going to work themselves to become better every single day.
High football character, high-character guys they’re going to be able to achieve their ceiling. When you pay a guy like [TE] Dallas Goedert or [CB] Avonte Maddox, or [LB] T.J. Edwards, it’s an example to the younger guys of, okay, he got paid right there because he’s a good player and he works his butt off to become the best player he can possibly be.
Those are two common denominators of guys in that role, and I’m really excited to have those guys locked up for the next couple years. You know you’re sound in those areas and positions, and those guys all are on their way up to being one of the best in the league at their position.
Q. Talking about the passing game, obviously you guys have had so much success running the football. There hasn’t been a ton of targets. It’s been mainly WR DeVonta Smith and TE Dallas Goedert. Any concern with some of the younger players, WR Quez Watkins and WR Jalen Reagor? How do you keep them involved when maybe they’re going through this stretch where they’re not seeing the football as much as they would like? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: You go through everything and you’re grading the plays, and when these big runs happen, again, you’re right, there were only 13 completions. That means there is going to be — with DeVonta, what did he have, four yesterday, and five by Dallas? That’s nine of the 13 completions.
I know when you play wide receiver you want to touch the football, but they were affecting the game in other ways. I thought Jalen did a good job in his return game, averaged over ten [yards] a return yesterday in punt return.
And then Quez, I thought Quez did some good things blocking. There are definitely a couple things we got to clean up, but those receivers, when you’re running the ball like that, it takes everybody. It takes the quarterback getting us into the right play. It takes the quarterback holding the backside off a fake. It takes the offensive line – it always starts with the offensive line and tight ends.
Then the backs hitting the hole and receivers blocking on the perimeter to create some big plays.
But there is no doubt we want to make sure those guys touch the ball too, because they’re playmakers as well. Just the way the game went, those guys are mature guys, they understand how the game went, and there is no doubt that they want to touch the ball, right, and we want them to touch the ball.
And so, we’ll see how this continues out, but there is no doubt we want them to be involved in the offense and actually touching the ball, not just blocking.
It was great to see [WR] J.J. [Arcega-Whiteside] have a really big play in that game. That will be our play of the game when we talk to our team on Wednesday.
J.J. has been a guy that’s really been in there to set the tone in the run game, to be able to be in there in some play-action things, on different ways, whether he’s getting the ball or not getting the ball.
And then he gets the big 23-yard completion yesterday to kind of pull us out of a rut on offense and get the chains moving and help us close out that game.
J.J. has been really patient through that, and when his number was called yesterday, he made a big-time play, and that’s what I’ll expect out of Quez and Jalen as well when their number is called, that they’ll make a big-time play, because we’ve seen them do it in the past.
Q. You’ve talked about Eagles run game coordinator/offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland’s role as a run game coordinator, but I’m interested in how detailed it gets. I know there are only so many runs you can run, but it seems with all the ways he blocks it up differently, moves guys around, all the shifting parts and how they executed, I was wondering if you could get a little more insight into how detailed it gets for Jeff? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Jeff is heading up the research on what angles look good, what different things that the defense are doing to stop the run game. You know, what plays look good against our defense, what we’ve been good at, and kind of bringing all that information in and talking through it. The defensive end techniques, linebacker techniques. No detail is left unturned.
To me, Coach Stout is as advertised, and why I say that is because for the last three years in Indianapolis, [Colts head coach] Frank [Reich] has told me how good Coach Stout is, and he’s as good as advertised.
He thinks about the players, of how we got to get them in position to make their blocks, and it always starts with them first and then just goes to every little detail you could imagine from, like I said, the linebacker techniques, the D-tackle techniques, the defensive end techniques, different places, when you put the back here what does the defensive line do, when you put the back here.
So, the detail that we go into, there is a long checklist of probably 15 to 20 things I ask when it comes to the run game. ‘Hey, what happens when this happens,’ and Coach Stout has an answer every time I ask him those things, and if he doesn’t have an answer, he’s going to find it.
And so super glad that he is on this staff because I value him. When you look at your position coaches, when you look at Coach Stout, he’s not only this great technician, right? All our position coaches have to be great technicians to get the player better, and Stout is very good at that.
You can see his history. You guys know that the offensive lineman continue to get better as they’re here. On top of that, he knows how to put the players in position to succeed.
And so, like I said, it’s a group effort. We talk through everything, and he’s headed up all the research on the run game. I’m sure glad we have him here because he’s a really, really, really good football coach.
Q. You mentioned C Jason Kelce a little bit already, but there were a couple of plays that really stood out from him yesterday, the block on RB Miles Sanders’ run. And then on the TE Dallas Goedert screen early in the third quarter when he kind of skated along the line to not go too far ahead, how from your vantage point does he seem to just get better with age and with every game? Behind the scenes, what does he do to stay at the top of his game? (Pat Gallen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I think you just see him take care of his body, take care of himself. Like the way his mind works, right — we talk about accelerated vision, guys knowing what’s going to happen before it happens and how do you get that.
You get it because you have good instincts, which Jason does, and through years of experience. He just seems to know, and he sets the table for everybody. ‘Hey, we’re going here,’ or, ‘I see this and I’m going here.’
So, his ability to process, I think that’s where — you know how you see that sometimes in quarterbacks, right? You see as a quarterback gets older, they’re throwing for more yards and more touchdowns, right?
I think that’s a product of they’ve seen everything. Everything has been thrown — you can’t throw something at Jason Kelce that he hasn’t seen. That’s kind of how I think about him in the sense of kind of like [former NFL QB] Philip Rivers where I just saw him continue, and was like, ‘How did you see that, Philip? How did you know that was coming?’ ‘Well, they did that to me in 2008.’
It feels the same way with Jason.
Then as far as your question about the play around the edge on Miles’ long run, I think it was like 12, 15 yards, that’s a — the block he makes I feel like I haven’t seen that block — I’m giving him very high praise because he’s a great player.
That’s a movie-style block, right? You don’t see a guy accelerate through one block and continue on to the next block, throw another block. I think I saw that — the only other time I’ve seen that, he made one of those same blocks against Atlanta and I said the same thing.
I’ve seen Jason Kelce do it against Atlanta, against the Saints yesterday, and I saw Billy Bob on Varsity Blues do it went in West Texas on that.
Those are the three times I’ve seen that play happen. And so, I mean, it was incredible. It was such a good play that he made yesterday, and he just continues to get better the more he sees.
Q. Safe to say Varsity Blues is your favorite football movie? (Pat Gallen)
NICK SIRIANNI: I liked Remember the Titans. That’s probably up there. Varsity Blues was good. It was good, but I’m more of a Remember the Titans guy.