Q. With QB Jalen Hurts, I’m wondering if there was a learning curve for you coaching a quarterback who is so even keeled and not reactionary seemingly to just about any circumstance? And if you’ve seen the fire come out at some point, like kind of breaking his normal stoic demeanor? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: (Laughing) Are you asking this question in reference to the last quarterback I coached, because he was pretty fiery?
Q. Nick, it came to mind. (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: (Laughing) Is that where this question is coming from? It’s interesting, because both of them, both [former Colts QB] Philip [Rivers] and [QB] Jalen [Hurts] and myself, are all coach’s sons, right?
But as far as just his even keel, I think that’s what’s common amongst good quarterbacks. I say that jokingly about Philip, because he was just fiery in a lot of different ways, but when he’s out there playing, it’s this (motions across) the whole time.
Like I said this one time about Philip. Like I may have the thing, ‘Dog mentality,’ but he had a different way of saying it.
My point of even bringing Philip up in this is that’s the common denominator amongst good quarterbacks, and that Jalen has portrayed all year. Again, [former Colts QB] Andrew Luck was like that and very, ‘Play the next play, play the next play, play the next play; don’t get too up; don’t get too down.’
I think not only quarterbacks, I think that’s the common denominator among a lot of good players, is that they know how to block out what happened in the past and focus on the play at hand and focus on what their job is at hand.
Jalen has done a good job of that for the entire time I’ve been with him because we have been through ups and downs together, just like you would expect in a 17-game season.
When you ask that question, it just – again, a common denominator amongst good players is that ability to play the next play and stay even keeled, and that’s definitely what Jalen showed throughout the year.
Q. I got to two parter for you: Are you going to rest your starters in the finale, including Jalen Hurts? If not, with the guys you have on COVID and the little control you guys have on seeding, what would be the logic of playing those starters in this game? (Mike Kaye)
NICK SIRIANNI: That’s still something that we’re discussing and we’re working through. So, everybody is ready to go. Even the guys that are out of the building right now are ready to go this week because of the preparation that we’ve had by everybody throughout the week.
And so that’s just still something – again, we’re sorting through. Every situation will be looked at differently. We are very aware that we don’t control our own destiny, as far as the six or seven seed, like you referred to.
So, again, we’re not in control over when the guys get back with COVID. We’re not in control over guys that are dealing with some bumps and bruises and injuries. So, everybody is being discussed, as far as – everybody is being treated as a different scenario.
We’ve discussed all these, we are continuing to discuss all these, but our goal is to win this football game against a rival. I know that’s their goal as well, and that should be all of our goals.
So, we’re ready to go. We are prepared and not – and everybody is prepared because we know there are a lot of different scenarios as far as guys’ availability and stuff like that at this particular point.
We’re not coming out with an injury report yet because we have a little bit more time to discuss that. We had an early practice/walk-through, so we have time to continue to talk about that. So, we’re going to use all our time and we’ll let you guys know as soon as possible with some of that stuff.
But we’re going through a lot of discussions right now.
Q. On the topic of the personalities of your quarterbacks, there was a report last week that QB Gardner Minshew came to your office after the Jets game, asking what it’ll take to earn the starting job. I guess how do you recall that happening, what was your response, and what does that say about Gardner? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: I don’t want to report anything or talk about any conversations that I had with any player in my office. That’s a conversation between myself and that player.
I really, really, really value the connection part of this whole thing. I love being on a team and I love being a part of a team and being able to connect with the coaches and the players on this team.
So, I don’t ever want to violate that relationship and that privacy we have with those. But I will say about [QB] Gardner [Minshew], he is a competitor. He is locked in, whether he’s the backup, whether he’s playing, right? He’s been in both scenarios this year with the Jets game, playing in that game, not knowing if he was playing in that game until late in the week.
The guy is going to prepare like crazy, no matter what the situation, and he’s competitive. Of course, every backup that we have on this team, if they didn’t want to be the starter, I would have an issue with them being the backup.
So, Gardner has played a lot of football in this league. I got a lot of confidence in him that he’s our backup and he’s the player that he is – again, we always talk about wanting your backup quarterback to be able to come in and function and give you a chance to win.
And we saw that. He was awesome in the game that he played against the Jets. And so, I would be disappointed if Gardner didn’t want to be the starter, but obviously Jalen [Hurts] is our starter.
Q. If you weren’t to play your starters, or key players, for more than a drive, or even at all, in this game or in other games, what would be the reasons that you would be okay with doing so? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, I don’t want to get too much into hypotheticals. We’re still sorting through some of those things.
I guess one thing you would be concerned about with not playing is I think — you know, I’ve been around this game long enough where the debates are again like, the one side says, ‘They’re going to be rested,’ right? And the other side is like, ‘Well, you’re in a four-game winning streak right now. What if you disrupt that and they’re not ready to go the next week?’
So, I get both sides of it. I guess we’re playing this — you’re asking the question about if we don’t play them what gives me confidence. So, I guess what I would say to that, Jeff, again, I know this is a hypothetical and I don’t want to think too much about it, but I will answer your question.
I think my confidence is if the decision is to have to rest a couple guys or whatever it is, the way we go about practice and the way we prepare, I have so much confidence in our process and the way we go about how we get ready.
I know we practice hard. I know we’ve really made this a staple of the way we are here, right, is that we go out and practice hard every day. That doesn’t mean you start fast every single game and things don’t happen in a game where you don’t look great at the beginning, but we practice our tails off here. We practice our butts off here because we know how important practice is to getting ready for the game.
And so that’s what would give me the confidence of not worrying about not having the momentum or whatever it is. Because we practice the same no matter if we’re coming off a win, coming off a loss, playing in a wildcard game, playing a preseason game, our practice habits are part of who we are.
Again, why are they that way? We stress that as coaches, but really there are so many veterans on this team that know how to practice that have won so many games in this league that we just talk about it, and it’s happening because of your Jason Kelces, your Rodney McLeods, your Lane Johnsons, Fletcher Cox. They know how to practice. They know what it takes to be ready on Sunday.
Q. It’s kind of a weird week in that you guys don’t really have much to play for in terms of seeding and you have a bunch of players missing. What’s the intensity level been like, and did you have to worry about guys coasting through this week? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Not even a little bit. Again, that’s just with what we’ve preached all year, what are players are like on this football team, that everyone is preparing like they’re playing in this football game.
I notice no difference. We had to go a little bit different as coaches of how we went through practice. Like for instance, we had a couple more walk-throughs than normal because the scout teams were a little bit less, right, because there were guys filling in for guys out with COVID.
So, we did a little bit more good on good this week than we have in the past, and so that was the main difference.
But the intensity, I said it before on here, our goal is to get a little bit better each day. Get one percent better each day, a little bit better each day. And how do you do that? We talk about this all the time. Our detail in meetings starting with us as coaches, being so detailed on what the job description is for each individual play against each individual look that they can potentially get, being full speed to the snap in walk-through, and intensity at practice.
If you guys were able to recite that with me right there because you knew what I was going to say, I promise you our players know that because I talk about that all the time. I know they believe it. They know it. They have lived it through the entire year and through years past. That’s why they have won so many football games here in the past.
So, when you talk about things all the time like that, I mean, and that’s who you are and what you’re about, that’s what you get.
And so, I saw no difference. That’s why I keep saying every guy that’s in this building and even virtually this week, are ready to go because of the way they go about their business. No man suddenly becomes different than his cherished thoughts and habits. It’s not like, all of a sudden, you’re in the playoffs and, boom, you forget how to work or, boom, you change who you are and how you’ve prepared for 17 weeks.
And vice versa, if you haven’t prepared hard for 17 weeks it’s not like, boom, I might get a chance to play; I’m going to go a little bit harder today, right? And so we’re big into habits, and this team has great habits because of the players and the men that we have in this building.
Q. I noticed on the injury report this week Jalen Hurts has been listed as limited with the ankle injury. Is that still based on the original injury three or four weeks ago? And as far as T Lane Johnson and OL Landon Dickerson are concerned, what’s the situation with them? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, still have time to sort through that and give a status a little bit later. I’m sorry I can’t give that to you just yet. Still talking through it.
As far as Jalen, still the ankle. Nothing new happened in the game. Still recovering from that ankle that he suffered against the Giants, so that’s why he’s on the injury report.
Q. We had a chance to talk to WR Jalen Reagor yesterday, and Jalen mentioned that you weren’t very happy when the fans were booing him. You were the first one who came up to him when he had the drop in New York. You mentioned connection. He talked about you as a person before as a coach. What does that mean to you? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Means a lot to me. That means an awful lot to me that he said that and talked about that first because, again, connecting is so important to me. I’ve talked to you guys about this, like why is connecting important to me? Because it’s a relationship business. And why did I want to get into coaching in the first place?
For my entire life growing up I would see grown men come to my parents’ house just to see my dad because they’re back in town and they wanted to come see my dad because they had a connection with him. I always thought that was so cool and one of the main reasons I got into coaching.
I think some people think sometimes that, oh, you’re in the NFL as a coach, you won’t be able to have those connections. I think when I first went to the NFL I kind of felt like, all right, I really want to be at the top of my profession and be at the top level, but am I going to be able to have the same relationships I had with guys in college — because I never coached high school?
I think the answer I found our very quickly was, yes, you can. And so that’s very important to me that he said that. I get attached to these guys because we go through so many ups and downs. It’s a family. It really is. Think about the ups and downs you go through with your family throughout a year.
Obviously, I’ve only been with these guys coming up on a year now. You go through so many things, and that’s the same thing that happens with a football team, you go through the ups and downs.
Through that you develop these connections if you work at it. So that means a lot to me that he recognizes that. Means a lot to me that me and him are tight because I’m tight with a lot of the former coaches that I had. I think that’s always a great feeling to have, that 15 years from now I’m still going to text these guys.
Or even relationships I had with guys that I coached in college, I’m still texting these guys and talking to them and having that relationship because that means a lot to me. I think I realized that a long time ago because I grew up as a son of a football coach and a track coach and then seeing the relationships he had with his players.
So that means an awful lot.