Q. After watching QB Jalen Hurts play with some limited mobility over the last couple of weeks, do you think that there are some lessons that he can take from those games? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I think any game that you play in, there are going to be lessons that you learn. I don’t think that depends on your limitations or whatever it is. No matter if you played a really good game or a really bad game, you’re always going to learn.
So, that’s our mindset, of how we can take each tape that we play, each game that we play, each practice that we have, each walk-thru that we have and how we get better from that. And so, I don’t want to – and that’s [QB] Jalen [Hurts]’ mindset, that’s our mindset as a team and that’s what we’re striving to do each and every week.
Q. With the possibility of you guys clinching a playoff spot if you guys win and a couple of other things happen, do you have to talk to your guys about keeping focus on Washington, not thinking ahead to all of those kind of possibilities? Or do they know that anyways? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: They know that, but my job as a coach it to remind them of things that are sometimes very obvious, right? So, every scenario that I’m being told that we have to clinch a playoff spot – when I first heard about it, it was every scenario was like, ‘Okay, if this happens and this happens and this happens, we’re in.’ ‘Okay, what else?’ “If this happens and this happens and this happens, we’re also in.’
But every one of those things requires us winning and that’s all that we can control. And so, that’s been my message all week, that’s been the players – that’s been our leaders on our team’s message all week. And we’re doing everything that we can do to go 1-0 this week by the way we practiced all week, by the way we walked-thru this week and by the way we studied at tape this week.
Q. An off-field question for you. With connect being one of your main core values, I wanted to gather your thoughts on the importance and how you view the Social Justice Leadership Council and the issues that they address? (Josh Tolentino)
NICK SIRIANNI: As players and as coaches, we have such a huge platform to inspire change in our world and communities. I’m just so happy that our guys are involved, and we have so many people in this organization involved and so many players and coaches involved.
And I think that just shows you about our team, about how they connect with each other and how they look to connect with our communities and make it a better place. So, just so excited for our guys that they’re involved in that.
Q. You have a pretty clean injury report, except for RB Jordan Howard. I was just wondering what his status is? And then with RB Kerryon Johnson’s return to the fold here, how has he looked this week? (Ed Kracz)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, [RB] Jordan [Howard] is questionable and we obviously don’t have to make that decision yet. And we don’t have to – he’s still got two more days to get better, and so he’s questionable right now.
[RB] Kerryon [Johnson] had a good week. Again, I think somebody asked me this earlier in the week, just he knows the offense. He did some really good things when he was here in the off-season, and so we have confidence in him if his number is called.
Q. Without getting ahead of ourselves, have you given thought, I guess, big picture what your philosophy would be if you clinched ahead of Week 18, what you would do with your starters? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: Not even a little bit. You’re getting ahead of ourselves. I’m not there, I’ll let everybody else think about that. Again, like I said, only thing that matters is Washington. Only thing that matters was our preparation today and we’re going to go up there and have a meeting with [QB] Jalen [Hurts], like we do every Friday.
That meeting is the next step. The walk-thru and the meetings tomorrow and then the game against Washington is all I care about, all I’m thinking about.
I’ll have plenty of time next week to think about other scenarios.
Q. Your team is No. 1 in the NFL in rushing right now. When we asked the offensive linemen about why, they always seem to reference Eagles Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Jeff Stoutland and they talk about the standard that he demands. What is that standard? (Rob Kuestner)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, it’s just the technique. First of all, we do everything we can do to put them in position to succeed, that’s our job as coaches. To put them in a position to succeed. Now, that doesn’t mean you’re always going to have the perfect play every time, but our job as coaches is put them in the position to succeed and then coach the heck out of details of technique and fundamentals of how we succeed within each play.
And then it goes over to the players of how they execute that play and how they execute the unknowns. And so, yeah, obviously a ton of credit goes to [Eagles Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Jeff Stoutland] because he is helping come up with – and he’s really one of the main guys to come up with the run plan because this guy understands angles of the offensive line better than anyone I’ve ever been around to help put these guys in good position.
And he’s such a technician and that’s what you want out of your coaches. You want guys that can get the guys better fundamentally and then know how to help them succeed by putting them in the right positions. That’s all you can ask for in a coach.
Then it goes over to our guys of, they got to be the ones that go out there and execute, and have their bodies execute it. With the talent we have on the offensive line, led by [C] Jason Kelce and [T] Lane Johnson. With the talent that we have, you’re always going to look like a better coach when you have talented players like we do on the offensive line.
They’re the ones out there executing it. We do our part of helping them and then they go out and execute. So, the execution, that’s the biggest part. And I know those guys love Stout. They love him and that’s a big part of it, too, because you’re always willing to go a little bit further for the guys that you love and that’s why connecting is so important to us as an organization.
Q. How has RB Kenny Gainwell handled any adversity he’s faced this year, being inactive, maybe dropping down on the depth chart, some of the turnovers he’s had, et cetera? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: You know what? This is a guy – I feel like he’s unfazed. He’s able to put behind him things that – bad things that have happened and good things that have happened and just work on getting better.
I want to say – I think after he was inactive, I remember him coming up me and saying, ‘Anything I can do to help this team, I’m here.’ You just admire that in guys that, even through a difficult time where he’s inactive, he’s still willing to do anything he needs to do to help the team. He’s still willing to do anything he needs to do to get himself better so he can help the team.
I just think that’s the type of high character guys that reach their ceiling, I really truly believe that. I think you guys have heard me say that before: Guys that love football, that are tough and have high character, they’re going to reach their ceiling as football players.
Now, there are other things that contribute to potentially not reaching your ceiling, but those are the guys, in my past, that have reached their ceiling as football players, and I have no doubt that [RB] Kenny Gainwell will be able to that here as an Eagle.
Q. With the quarterbacks being isolated, what have you learned about yourself coaching virtually, that maybe kind of didn’t click with you when you’re coaching in person? I guess – obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages to both, but what have you learned about yourself as a coach in coaching from a digital standpoint? (Mike Kaye)
NICK SIRIANNI: [Jokingly] That my jokes might not be as funny as I thought they are when I’m coaching. You get no response, and it puts you in a little bit of a – when you make a joke when you’re coaching to kind of – you can’t just be all, ‘Boom,’ all the time. You got to throw some jokes in there. You got to do some things there to keep their attention and sometimes I don’t get the laughs I want.
But in all seriousness, what I learned last year, because I think – you know, I’m just convinced last year when we were with the Colts, we did it better than everybody else. We knew there was a challenge of being virtual and we fought like crazy to find different ways to make sure we kept them engaged when there are so many distractions that are present when you’re virtual.
When you’re virtual, there’s distractions, right? I mean, my kids are running downstairs at times. We’re not at home this time, but you just find different ways to make sure you’re keeping them engaged.
So, we took some of the experiences we had last year, and we used it here. So, a lot of that learning was done last year. So, yeah, hopefully I answered your question there, as best I could.
Q. Nick, Ravens QB Lamar Jackson appears to be hurt again this week; Cardinals QB Kyler Murray has been hurt; QB Jalen Hurts has been hurt. Running quarterbacks. With these things that happen, do you rethink a little bit the way you call your offense to protect your quarterback more when you see what happens with running quarterbacks? (Howard Eskin)
NICK SIRIANNI: That’s a great question. Because he’s your quarterback, you always want to protect your quarterback. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t run him, but you do some different things and we do some different things to make sure that he’s led in protection, right? Led in – I don’t know how to say it, but like, where he’s not taking the hits.
First of all, [QB] Jalen [Hurts] does know how to not take a hit. He knows how to not put his body at harm. And then we do our best, and this is from day one, of making sure that he understands we don’t want him to fight for some unnecessary things and that we’re going to do our best to help make sure we protect it by the way we block things.
And, again, I think if I go too much more into that, I think it takes a little bit of a competitive advantage away. I’d love to share it with you guys at a different time, but we’re always thinking that of how we protect Jalen because he’s our starting quarterback.
So, you don’t just aimlessly throw him out there and say, ‘Run and take these hits,’ because we know it’s a physical game and you just don’t want that to happen.
So, it’s always been on the front of our mind. Regardless of what’s happened in the NFL throughout this year or what’s happened to Jalen, we just want to protect him because he’s our starting quarterback.
Q. I have had a few games down there this year, the road team fans tend to be a little bit louder and certainly you guys are closer than any of the other teams that have been down there. Do you kind of talk to your guys about, hey, let’s get a jump here and almost treat this like a home game, use the noise to our advantage, particularly defensively? (Mike Garafolo)
NICK SIRIANNI: You obviously always want to start fast. As we all know, you want to have the lead and play from ahead. What I value about our fan base is that from game one in Atlanta, we had a huge supporting cast there.
It just seems like it’s been like that each and every week. There was a bar outside of Denver that when I was with San Diego, when I was with the Chargers, I would drive by that bar. It’s just this little bar out in front of stadium and I would see all the Bronco fans.
This whole thing was green when we played at Denver. Our fans do a great job traveling and really do a great job being in a stadium and taking it over. I will never forget this clip that after our Atlanta game somebody sent me of the rapper Bow Wow complaining in the sense that — when he was in Atlanta, he’s an Atlanta fan, — and I know he’s from Columbus, so I’m surprised he’s not a Cleveland fan or a Bengal fan, but of him complaining like, ‘What the heck? This is our home opener and I’m hearing Meek Mill playing in the background. This is crazy.’ We were just laughing. We had a great time with that.
But it just shows you that there are Eagles fans everywhere. If there are tickets left, I don’t have any family members coming to this game, but if there are tickets left, I know our fans are scooping those things up and getting down there to make this drive down there.
If there are still tickets left, fans, I encourage you to go get those tickets, scoop ’em up, and I want to hear here the E-A-G-L-E-S after touchdowns down there. I can’t wait.
I hope you guys hear it in my voice how passionate I am about our fan base. I think early in the year people were asking me, ‘You guys are winning on the road more than you’re winning at home.’ Well, when we were on the road at times it was like it felt like we were at home. So again, just can’t say enough about our fans and how passionate they are and how excited I am and our team is when we see and hear them at away games.
Q. When you got off to the rough start, and I know you’re positive, but did you have moments where you were losing faith, and how did you keep the faith, keep believing, and also make sure your team believed that you would be in this position with two games to go and be in a position to clinch a playoff spot? (Jeff Skversky)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think when you look at something as a whole or you think about the past, if you’re not a process-oriented team where you just care about the process, the results can really mess with you. If you’re thinking too far down the road, too far back, that can mess with you.
Your goal is to get better every day. When you get better every day, when you grow every day, eventually good things will happen. And so that’s just been my philosophy for some time.
Obviously, I was able to be a part of that in Indianapolis and I know that’s [Colts head coach] Frank’s [Reich] philosophy as well of just come to work every single day and get better. There are going to be times of adversity where people are telling you you stink and there are going to be times of triumph where people are telling you you can’t do anything wrong.
Your job in all that is to not ride the wave of the season; your job in all of that is how you do the things you need to do to get a little bit better every day so you put yourself position to go 1-0 that week.
Like I said, it’s okay that you — you guys know I’m going to say that by this point, right? Like I say to the players sometimes, it’s okay that you know what’s going to come out of my mouth. It’s okay that you know I’m going to say this right here. In fact, I think that’s good coaching, right?
So, you guys, when you ask me a question like that you know what you’re going to hear from me, so I think that’s good coaching. All I think about is how we get a little bit better each day. That’s all I want our players to think about, and that will help you get through times of triumph and help you get through times of tribulation.
Q. Did you ever lose faith? (Jeff Skversky)
NICK SIRIANNI: Never.
Q. The run game, because there is a little bit of uncertainty at running back. RB Miles Sanders is out; Jordan Howard you mentioned is questionable. When Miles was out the first time what did you kind of learn about the backs, and how much did things change, or is it just next man up, we’re good at this, we’re just going to run the football? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, you know, again, I always think it starts up front. That’s not taking anything away from our backs, but it always starts up front, and we know what type of up front we have.
And then you go into the type of depth that we have at back. To be able to lose a caliber player like Miles Sanders and be able to come in, and those guys with [RB] Boston [Scott] and Jordan and [RB] Kenny [Gainwell], to be able to rush the way we did when we lost him, I mean, that speaks to the depth that [Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and his staff have put together here.
That’s what you love as coaches. I don’t want to say, again, the next-man-up mentality. Well, you can only do the next-man-up mentality if — and we always will live that way — but you got to have players behind them that are ready to go and are talented, and that’s what we have.
I think somebody sent me something the other day of you could wake up — I thought it was really cool. It was about Boston Scott. I want to say Merrill sent it. I can’t remember exactly. Somebody sent it to me — I apologize, Merrill, if this was you and I’m not giving you the credit you deserve.
You could wake up Boston Scott in the middle of the night, lead him to the stadium, and there would be a game going on and he would be ready to go. I love that about players. I absolutely love that about our players, and Boston Scott in particular.
And so, they’re ready to go. They prepare like they’re the guy each week. Credit to [Eagles running backs/assistant head coach] Jemal Singleton, his position coach, to prepare him like he’s the guy each week, and the players, Boston and Jordan and Kenny like they’re the guy each week, and credit to the players for preparing themselves like they’re the guy each week.
So unbelievable depth by Howie and his staff. Unbelievable offensive line. Then just unbelievable character guys that have talent behind Miles. So, a lot of credit to go around for why we’re able to do the things we did when Miles got hurt the first time, and we’re looking to duplicate that this time around.
Q. We’ve asked you about the growth of a lot of the players this year and this past week. Where would you say you’ve grown the most in your first year as head coach? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Just as a leader. I think, again, if you come in each day and you want to get better at your job and get a little bit better each day, that’s my main job, is that and to be in charge of the offense.
But just as a leader. I feel like I’ve gotten better at that each day. And, again, I’ve had good leaders to learn from with my college coach, Larry Kehres, with my dad, with Frank Reich and my brothers. So I had a good background in doing that because I’ve just been around really good leaders.
But you have all these things in your pocket of what you learned, but you’ve never done it yourself, and so there had to be growing there, and I guess that’s where I feel like I’ve grown.
But always want to be leading in that way as far as if I want the guys to get a little bit better every day, I got to get a little bit better every day, and hopefully they see that, because I felt that throughout the year.