Q. I wanted to ask you about having the same staff back for a second year, all your position coaches, coordinators, special teams, all that. How important is that and how can that translate into what you guys do in practice and on the field? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think it’s huge because the coaching points that you want to get across are across. There’s already that familiarity with the players.
Now, the rookies have to get to know everybody, but you’d be surprised too that when you bring in a new coach, that’s a big step for myself and [Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] to teach the guy the offense or vice versa on the defensive side, [Defensive Coordinator Jonathan] Gannon to teach the defense to. That’s a big portion of time because you’re not just teaching plays, you’re teaching techniques within the plays, what’s the responsibilities, your teaching situations.
To have the entire staff back is huge.
Why do you think bring the staff back? Because you have talented guys on the staff. So, my vision here is to be able to keep the staff intact, win games obviously. Guys will obviously get promoted from that, and then be able to have a good young group of nucleus guys that are in support roles to be able to promote.
I think that was something that the college team that I came up in, Mount Union, that’s what we did a ton of. You look around the NFL, that’s what some of the great teams do is they promote from within. So, it’s just accumulating talent and trying to promote from within.
I’m glad to say we were able to promote a couple of guys, [Offensive Quality Control Coach] Alex Tanney and [Coaches Assistant] Tyler Scudder, from support roles to a little bit more responsibility roles.
Q. We talked to Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen last week; he clarified he’s going to be calling the plays. We know you shifted last year. Can you take us through that decision? I know it’s a collaborative process, but… (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Of course. As we’re going through games, and there are obviously a lot of things that go on during the game, and I was just noticing Shane was already calling the two-minute drills, and like I said, it’s a collaborative event. You can’t just go out and call a game without putting the plan together. You put the plan together all week.
Well, one of my favorite things to do in the world is help put the plan together and put the plays in you think are going to work against the defense. That’s one of my favorite things to do in the world. We’re continuing to do that.
But what I noticed was, well, I wasn’t communicating enough with Gannon about something, or I wasn’t communicating enough about the defense about something that they needed to be pumped up or Coach Clay [Special Teams Coordinator Michael Clay] or the special teams. I love doing that, to go over into the kickoff return and say, ‘Let’s go, let’s get a play going.’ There are a lot of things that have to happen on the offense before a drive starts.
You have to communicate to all the offensive players, ‘Here are the next string of plays.’ You have to put together the next string of plays of what you’re talking about.
I just really trusted Shane. Shane and I spend so much time throughout the week together, again, coming up with a plan amongst the coaches, and Shane and I are doing most of the heavy lifting.
We shifted to it during one of the games, and I felt comfortable with being able to talk to everybody – there are things that come up with the referees that I need to do. There are things that come up with the guys upstairs that I need to talk through a situation and how we might need to handle it. There are just so many things that came up, and you know what, I wanted to trust the guys on the staff that I had, because I have good coaches. We just talked about it.
I trusted Shane, he did a great job when he did it, and I feel really comfortable that we continue on that way.
Again, like I said, though, I’ll be in every meeting. I’m sitting in every meeting. Nothing more that I like to do than to put plays together. There’s nothing more I like to do than correct plays after practice, to go in there after practice and tell the guys, ‘This is exactly how I want this to look,’ or, ‘We have to fix this.’
The only thing that’s going to be different of me not being the, what you would say offensive coordinator is just the play calling aspect of it.
But even in that aspect, we’re coming up with the first 15 [plays] together. We’re coming up with the order of the 3rd down. We are coming up with the order of the second-half openers at times. We’re coming up with the red zone, the two-minute.
There is so much that goes into it. Just like the draft, it can’t be like, ‘Hey, we’re at pick 7, go.’ There’s been a lot of work that’s went into it. We aren’t going to have pick 7. Let me rephrase that. There has been a lot of work that’s went into that, and it’s the same thing as we go.
Again, like I said, I have total confidence in Shane, and I’m just really excited to go and have that same process next year.
Q. What’s the biggest difference you’ve seen in QB Jalen Hurts these past two weeks of practice? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Jalen is, in my opinion, more comfortable in the offense, right. That’s just the part of the process the second year. He knows where the receivers are going to be versus different looks. He knows where to go with the football a little bit quicker.
We’ve done our job as coaches, and I don’t want to say we’ve done a good job, but what we’ve done as coaches is figured out what he likes and what he’s good at and all these different things. It’s just accumulating those reps.
Like we talked about, I think you guys asked me that last year, was some of these quarterbacks that have been played for so long, they’re in year 15, 16, 17, they’re getting better at reading it, why, because they’ve seen the play over and over and over again. That’s the same progression Jalen has.
The reason we know Jalen is going to continue to get better is because of the character, and the football character and the personal character that he has. He’s just the type of guy that’s going to reach his maximum potential because of all the off-the-field qualities he has. I’ve also noticed just the crispness of the drop. It’s been the fundamentals — his fundamentals have improved, and he’s really worked hard at that.
He’s working every day to get better, and I’m really pleased where he is right now, but we have to continue to lay the groundwork. That he went 11 of 12 yesterday in 7-on-7 means nothing. He has to continue to get better and better and better. I don’t know; you guys would have a better feel what he was today. I didn’t keep track. I’ll go watch it when I’m done with you guys, but I thought he had a pretty good day today, too.
But really what I noticed is he’s really seeing where to go with the football and going there quick.
Again, have to keep working that because it’s just going to get harder and harder.
Q. You have less practices than most teams in OTA’s and no mandatory. How has it been more productive now that you’ve gone through it, because there are a lot of coaches that say, we need practice, we need reps. How has it been more productive? (Howard Eskin)
NICK SIRIANNI: We had a 7-on-7 period and it was 24 plays of 7-on-7. You guys left and we had a rookie development period after that, so we ended up getting 34 plays of 7-on-7, so it really was two periods.
When you look back into how OTAs used to run a little bit more, and again, it’s all about how you devise how you run the system, you’d have a couple more periods, right, and you’d maybe have more 11-on-11 and this and that.
As we looked at all the different years that we’ve had, even when I go back to my days as a coordinator with the Colts, even when it was 11-on-11, it was a passing drill.
What happens there sometimes is you get these big dudes out there and you’re like, all right, we’re not going real hard — good luck telling [C] Jason Kelce we’re not going real hard or [DT] Fletcher Cox or any of those guys. So, we just took them out of it and we were able to go full speed.
The one thing that was different when you didn’t have to do all the prep to get into the plays, you were able to spend more time in individual, where that’s what should be happening right now. The fundamentals should be being built right now.
When you have a practice that you have five, six — I’m not knocking anybody that has this. I used to do this all the time, too. But when you have a period where you have five or six periods of team periods, well, naturally your individual period time is going to shrink. Well, we were able today to have 35 minutes of — whatever it was, I don’t know the exact timing of the schedule here, but we were able to have 35 minutes of individual time of perfecting our fundamentals, and really at the end of the day, we’re going to call a good play, they’re going to call a good play.
This player is going to be pretty good and this player is going to be pretty good. Let’s just say Detroit. Detroit is going to call a good play, we’re going to call a good play. Our receiver is going to be really good, and their DB is going to be really good. Well, what gives in a scenario like that? Fundamentals.
So, we’ve been able to have — this is why I love this part of this time of year so much. We’ve had these long periods of individual where we’re perfecting our fundamentals. You go fundamentals, then you work it into team and then you go here. So great, the off-season program we had a ton of fundamentals work, which is going to put us in a position to have more team periods when we get into training camp and even the team periods that we had — pardon me, the 7-on-7 periods that we had here in OTAs. That’s what I noticed the most is that the fundamentals I could see guys getting better and better because the sheer amount of time that we had. And to go back to the coaches, I feel like we hired guys that are good at — one of my criteria was that they’d better be good at teaching the fundamentals. Not everybody has to be a phenomenal schemer, but everybody that’s coaching a position has to be good at the fundamentals so we can take a player from here to here. We can take a player from to a different level that they can’t reach on their own.
Q. If they were as productive as you said, why wouldn’t six more practices make you guys better? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, you want to look at everything right there as far as health of the team, everything like that. We felt like the time that we got with them, the four weeks on the field, because we went one more week in phase 1 where we were lifting more, the four weeks that we got with them, we felt like that was what we needed right there.
Sometimes you keep going with something like that and you get — that is a lot of individual. I think at some point it becomes a little stale, too. We thought that was the perfect amount of time for us. That’s just what we thought. Again, everybody is going to do it a little bit different. There are a lot of different ways to do it. We felt that was what benefitted us.
Q. Back to the play calling, what percentage of the time is Shane Steichen calling a play and you’re thinking, that’s what I would have called? And how often then is he calling something where you’re like – (David Murphy)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, just remember this: The plays are — again, I’m on there. I’m on the headset talking about the next group of plays. The plays are discussed of what’s coming up. Shane, I want to see this and this. What do you have in mind? This and this? Ooh, I like that. What if we did this?
That communication is happening.
Again, you don’t go into the next set and go, ‘All right, here we go, I have the first one, but I am rolling the dice on that.’ That is communicated through it.
There are times where there’s a situation that pops out of nowhere and that Shane has to think quick, and most of the time, again, because I just can’t even explain to you how much time we spend together and how much time we’ve spent together in the past, the thought process is the same. He knows exactly what I want on a 3rd-and-long at the 40-yard line. He knows exactly what I want. What’s that game show where you go behind — I don’t even remember, but we would write down the exact same play.
Q. The Newlywed Game.
NICK SIRIANNI: [Jokingly/laughter] Yeah, the Newlywed Game, Shane and I.
There are a lot of similarities. But again, there’s just so much discussion. Again, like I said, most of those discussions I’m right there with him, but if I’m talking to the defense and a particular one, I’m able to say to Shane, ‘Hey, what’s the next couple you got? Good, cool, I like that. Let’s add this and this and maybe let’s change this right here.’
So that’s kind of how it’s going down. Just again, so much confidence in Shane. He’s just done a great job not only here, but you saw what he did with the Chargers, as well.
Q. I know these practices are voluntary; WR Jalen Reagor wasn’t here two days when we were here. Was he able to be here at all? And what do you feel about him? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’m not going to discuss — it is voluntary, so I don’t ever want to put anybody’s attendance out there. We had very good attendance. Very, very good attendance. Now, things pop up for guys here and there as we know. Things can get hectic, things happen, family things happen, personal things happen. There are things that pop up.
He had great attendance through this, and just so happened the times that you guys were here he wasn’t.
But he had great attendance through this and was really into it, and there’s no denying that Jalen has talent. He just has to continue to try to be consistent. That was our discussion. I told you guys this, the discussion that I’ve had with every player — we have a discussion with every player at the end of the year of what we need to do better, what we did well, and Jalen, one of the things that we talked about was well, okay, you’re not at TCU where you get 11 balls thrown to you a game. You might get three or you might get two; take advantage of the ones that you get and just be consistent with it. And that’s what we’re working on right now, because there’s no doubt that he has talent, and we are excited to work with him again.
Q. Was it difficult at all to give up the play calling, given that it seems like that’s something an offensive coach kind of strives for when you’re working your way up to have that ability from an ego standpoint? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: No, I think that’s where a lot of problems happen in the NFL is from an ego standpoint, right. It’s what is the best thing to do. If I said I’m going to stand on a table and run these plays that we ran with Philip Rivers, because that’s what we do, that’s an ego thing to me. So, it’s the same thing here. I felt like I needed to make a change in the sense of how to free me up to be a better head coach, and I had a good assistant to call the plays, and so that’s what I went with.
So yeah, no hesitation there at all, no ego thing there at all. Shane has done a great job, and imagining we do what we’re supposed to do and win games, do what we were paid to do to come here, Shane will get an opportunity to be a head coach and then we rediscuss it again.
But again, I don’t want you guys to get caught up in this, well, because he’s calling the plays on game day, that’s it. There is so much that happens before the games are being called, and I’m not going to tell you the percentage of plays that I call or what he calls, but there’s just so much that’s happening before that, it is a true group effort going into it. Then it’s just a matter of who’s the one calling it on Sunday.
Q. Just to put a bow on the no-mini-camp decision, is it safe to say that health is kind of the driving factor there? And what different arms of the organization are you hearing from to inform that? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Sure, it’s always about the players’ health, but there’s also got to be a point of yes, I am hearing the trainers, I’m hearing the strength staff and our sports science department, I’m hearing the doctors. They’re the experts in the yardage of how much guys have run, the timing of this day is a longer day, then this day is a shorter day, then this day is a longer day. I didn’t go to school for that. I went to school to be an education major, but I was really preparing to be a football coach. That’s what my coach was preparing me to do.
So, I’m listening to them in that. I am. I am listening to their input in that. But just like when the offense goes out there and takes the field or the defense goes out there and takes the field or the special teams goes out there and takes the field, my name is on it, and win or lose, my name is on it. So, it’s the same thing here.
I’m listening to them, but I also have a feel for what the team needs as far as, hey, we need five more plays on 7-on-7 here, we need 10 less minutes of individual here.
All that’s being taken accounted for, and yes, the players’ health is first, but there’s also a feel on my end of, hey, what do we need to get done to put ourselves — in my opinion it was that fundamental step. It was the little bit of teamwork that we got.
The other teamwork we got was in walk-through, but the teamwork that we got, and were we getting enough for the quarterback and for us to be able to correct plays both from the wide receivers, tight ends, defensive side, and then were we getting the fundamentals, and that’s where we came up with the amount of time we had on the field.
Q. Are you practicing tomorrow? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: We are not. [Wide Receivers Coach] Aaron Moorehead had to catch a punt to get the day off tomorrow. He dropped the first one, but the wind was swirling, the equipment guys had it going there. He dropped the first one. [Linebackers Coach] Nick Rallis dropped the next one, and then Aaron came back and caught the third one, which you would expect from a guy that played with Peyton Manning and played in a Super Bowl.
Q. On that note, it looked like you had a ton of fun out there. I heard you offer a thousand dollars to the coach who punches the ball out. You’re having a blast out there. You’re doing all these contests. How much fun are you having? Is it different because this is year two versus being year one? (Jamie Apody)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’d like to think I had fun in year one, as well. But hey, this is awesome. Again, I’ve said this before, and I’m 40 years old, and I’m still part of a team. I get to go watch my son who’s seven years old play baseball. He’s having a blast being a part of a team, hanging with his buddies, chewing the Big League Chew bubble gum and putting eye black under, and then his teammates are doing it. And I’m watching them going, ‘Man, that’s fun. Shoot, I get to go to work tomorrow and do that here.’
So it’s fun. It’s fun. Football is fun to go out there and see guys improve and see guys get better, and to have that goal of, ‘Hey, what are we going to do today to get a little bit better?’ And just see the climb over and over and over again, it’s just part of the reason why we do what we do.
So of course, it was a great time to be out there with the guys, and you know what, to go back on some of the things you guys have asked me about the OTAs, the last two years we had nothing. Last year we did no team drills. The year before that, now I know I was in Indianapolis, but nobody had OTAs. So to be able to get on the field and have some 7-on-7, to be able to correct and looking forward to going up there and watching the 34 plays of 7-on-7 today, to be able to correct that, that’s awesome.
I look forward to at night when my kids go to bed and my wife and I are done talking to call [QB] Jalen [Hurts] and talk through his 10 plays of 7-on-7 and, ‘Hey, what were you thinking here, what were you doing there?’ Or to call [QB] Gardner [Minshew] and go through that, or to text [WR] DeVonta [Smith] and say, ‘Hey, on this play’ — again, I can’t tell you — my favorite thing to do is to correct and watch practice tape with guys and correct and praise from that, like, ‘Hey, this was awesome, hey, this needs to be a little bit better.’ That’s like going out and playing golf for me. I love doing that.
I think that a lot of our coaches love doing it, and you can feel that from our players that they love doing that.
When you get a bunch of guys that love being around football, that’s a cool thing. That’s a great team, and we’re just looking to build on that every single day.
Q. What’s the latest you’ve called Jalen Hurts? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: The latest I’ve called Jalen? Jalen and I do talk a little bit earlier in the night. I think I text Gardner, ‘Hey, are you ready to talk,’ at like 10:30 one night because my wife and I went out to dinner, and he texted me in the morning, ‘We’re going to talk now because I was sleeping last night.’ Not too late. Not too late.
Q. WR A.J. Brown, this is about techniques and fundamentals you talked about this time of year, but as an offensive coach when you get a player like that in your system, can you kind of feel at this time of year what he’s going to be able to do, whether it’s spacing – (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: A.J. is not a real big secret, he’s been in the NFL, so it’s not like you’re projecting, oh, here’s what he could be good — we know. We’ve seen a lot of tape of what he’s been good at and what he’s been successful at. We know his attributes and his talents of how they’ve translated to the NFL, and so there’s a lot less getting to know there.
Now, there’s a lot of getting to know with him and Jalen, not as a personal level, but throwing the ball to each other. There’s a lot of him getting to know the other receivers within the building and other players to connect with them. But really excited obviously to have A.J.. He’s very talented. This is a talented wide receiver group. Really talented wide receiver group that we’re looking forward to working with.
Q. Is there a newcomer that’s stood out to you the most, whether it’s a rookie, someone acquired via trade, or a free agent? (Shamus Clancy)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’m really excited about the draft picks. I’m really excited about the free agents. This is going to be a generic [answer]. I know you’re not going to get what you want here. I’m really excited about the new additions that we have and I’m excited to work with these guys. And again, all these guys, not just the newcomers, but I just see guys taking steps and climbing and getting a little better.
Last year, and you’re going to hear our guys say this, last year we talked about getting a little bit better each day, getting one percent better each day. We just changed that a little bit to climb a little bit each day – climb, climb, climb. We’re trying to climb this mountain, but we just need to do this part today and this part today and climb a little. I saw that from a lot of the team this year.
Just a credit to our coaches. I can’t say enough about our coaches and how good of a staff we have. I see [Eagles defensive backs coach] Dennard Wilson and [Eagles assistant defensive backs coach] D.K. McDonald working with the defensive backs and how hard they push those guys with the different fundamentals that they’re asking them to do, and I see the DBs taking steps, one, because they’re a talented room, but also because of the coaching that they are getting from Coach Wilson and Coach McDonald.
Obviously [Eagles run game coordinator/offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] Stout, he is going to push those guys to work in an individual period like crazy. You guys see him work, he’s sweating through his shirt. Again, just seeing a lot of good steps by a lot of guys and looking forward to getting the pads on and going into training camp with it.
Q. We saw Dick Vermeil out there, and there’s also a picture out of there of you and Jay Wright having dinner. Is there any advice that they gave you that you feel you can take forward? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: Shoot, no doubt. Everything we learned is from somebody. You don’t just step into this role; you learn it from somebody by watching somebody. That’s how I feel like you get into a role like this is because you’ve been so observant about the good coaches you’ve been around in the past and the bad coaches you’ve been around in the past and what you’re going to repeat.
I’ve had that from the very beginning with my dad, growing up in a coach’s house. I’ve learned a lot of good things there, to college, to the NFL coaches I’ve worked with, like [Colts head coach] Frank Reich. And then as I’ve talked to you guys a lot about, I love reading and really more watching the documentaries – I extended myself a little bit there. (laughter) I like watching the documentaries on these guys and what makes good teams work and good players work and good coaches work.
Well, shoot, then you get an opportunity, like, so if I’m going to be watching 30 for 30 at home and getting information there, then I get to go out to dinner with Jay Wright, one of the best basketball coaches of all time, and Dick Vermeil, and that’s the first time I’ve said “Jay” or “Dick Vermeil” – it’s Coach, right? And to be able to go out there, and yeah, I’m asking them questions. Obviously I’ll keep those conversations private, but what great knowledge that they have and how unbelievable — I feel so honored that they’re willing to share that with me. Coach Wright being an Eagles fan, he’s willing to share that with me, and his amount of information that he has, and same thing with Coach Vermeil.
And that wasn’t just this dinner. I got encouragement and support from those guys through the entire year. They have my cell phone number, and I’d get a text from them. Win or lose, when it felt like I needed a good text of some support or some advice, I was getting that. That’s what good coaches do. They know when to give some support, they know when to give some advice, they know when to praise. Those guys are really phenomenal coaches, and I’m very thankful I’m able to have their number to ask them a question here or there. I would have loved to have them as a 23-year-old coach, and be like, hey, I’m going to call Coach Wright. But I have them now. So that’s awesome.