Q. You mentioned pretty consistently during the summer you weren’t going to show a lot because you thought you might have an advantage early in the season. Now you look at week one in Atlanta. They have a new coach, new defensive coordinator although Falcons Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees has been around for a long time. How does that work both ways in the fact that new system there, new system with you guys? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think it’s to both of our advantages. I’m imagining they thought the same thing that we did. That’s pretty common on new staffs.
So, they haven’t shown some things either. We just got to go back and look at tape of any of our time in the past.
But, again, not a lot of film on either of us, but Dean has called some plays and Coach Pees is a really good defensive coordinator and he’s been a good defensive coordinator for a lot of years.
Q. When TE Zach Ertz’s fate was in limbo this off season, how influential were you in making sure it broke in a way where he stayed on the team this year? I mean, did you express to management that you wanted or needed Ertz on this team this year? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: You know, everything we do is in the best interest of our organization. And that’s – everything is a joint effort in what we’re doing with [Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and his staff and my staff.
Of course, the better players you have, the better coach you are. So, [TE] Zach [Ertz] is a great football player. As I’ve gotten to know Zach, he’s a great person as well. So, the more football players we have on this team, the better players we have on this team, the better we’re going to be.
So, that is no exception there with Zach because he’s a heck of a player and we’re sure glad that we have him on this team.
Q. I know WR DeVonta Smith obviously seems to be a pretty mature and level-headed guy, but with him being a first-round pick and the expectations that come with that, do you ever feel the need to talk to him about those things and make sure he’s level-headed about it? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, you know, really – we just talked today about embracing our role on the team. What is your role, embrace your role and [WR] DeVonta [Smith] is going to have a big role on this team.
So, we talk about that all the time. So, we talked about the role today, that was one thing just with everybody. And then what are the things – other thing we talked about a lot with our team is, ‘What are the things that are going to prevent you from getting better every single day?’ Because that’s the goal at the end of the day, is just continue to make these gains of getting better every single day because that’s going to lead you to where you want to be.
And so, that’s one of them, right? Just to stay level-headed, know that you got to come to work every single day, regardless of what you did the day before. That’s also similar to what we talk about when we talk about doing dog mentality.
So, there is a lot of messaging that we give and we talk about that our guys know that are important to us, and really as a coaching staff and important to us in this building.
I think they know that and there is definitely not a day that goes by where I don’t go over those things with them.
Q. Regarding Zach Ertz, you might have known before us that he was going to be here this season, but now that the uncertainty is out of the way, what’s it like planning an offense with both him and TE Dallas Goedert, along with the wide receivers that you have? You can use both 11 and 12 personnel obviously. (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Sure, again, like we talk about – like the better your players are the more, the harder you’re going to be to defend.
We feel like we got a lot of different groupings that we can be good in. We have the 12 personnel, we have 11 personnel. We have some other personnel’s, 21 personnel, 13 personnel, there’s different things we can do personnel-wise because we have good players on this roster. Credit to Howie and his staff.
So, really excited to game plan. We’ve been game planning already, but really excited to game plan and continue game planning for a guy like Zach Ertz.
Q. It’s the Monday before your first regular season game as a head coach. I know you’re focused on Atlanta, game planning and the team, but have you thought about what it means to you personally, your journey to get here as a head coach, as you get ready six days away? (Rob Maaddi)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, so, you know, I’m going to say – the thing I’m going to say is, ‘Hey, I’m worried about Atlanta and only Atlanta,’ and that is true, but it is special to me. I come from a coaching family, and it definitely is special to me that it’s going to be my first game as a head coach this Sunday.
And I know that’s special for my entire family, so I’m really excited about that. Excited for my parents to watch it on TV. I’m excited for my brothers to watch it on TV. One of my brothers will be getting ready for his next week’s game while in the office as he watches it or updates on his phone or whatever it’s going to be.
Yeah, I’m excited because it’s such a family affair. Football has always been a family affair for us. Shoot, this Saturday I spent about three hours of my Saturday listening to my brother’s game, Washington and Jefferson College vs. John Carroll, and Washington and Jefferson got a big win.
So, that’s going to be special because I just know the family interactions that we have. My dad was at the game, so I would call him and be like, ‘Hey, what’s happening on this play, what is happening on this play?’ I’m assuming that’s going to be very similar here, except it’s going to be on national television.
So that’s where I think it’s really special, just a special thing with my family. But I’m not going to let that moment distract me from what’s important. That’s just being ready, doing everything I need to do to be ready this week.
I feel like we’ve put the work in to now to be ready for this point, and then just continue to work to be ready for this weekend.
Q. What happened to T/G Jack Driscoll and how long do you expect him to be out? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: He’s dealing right now with just a peck strain. Obviously, we put him on IR, so not going to put a timetable on his injury or return.
So, I know he’s working hard to get back and we need him. He’s an important part of this offensive line. He has a huge role, so we’re waiting for him to get back, but it’ll be a couple weeks.
Q. The team just announced the captains. Can you take us through the process and why those six players were selected to lead the team? (Chris McPherson)
NICK SIRIANNI: Sure. Players voted for it. That’s just something that I’ve always — everywhere I’ve been the players have voted for it, because they got the pulse of the locker room, that’s for sure. They’re the ones in there.
So, they voted for it, and you saw who they voted for. I think those are – there are other guys that got votes, too. Again, I’m going to keep those in-house obviously, and everything that happens in our team meeting in-house and be able to fill you guys in so you can do your job as much as you possibly can.
But there were some other guys that got votes too, but those were the six that got the most votes. No surprise to me. They’ve been great leaders since I’ve gotten here, and they’ve been great leaders in the past.
So really excited for them to lead our football team. Again, when we talked about role, one of the main roles they have being voted as captain, that’s a big responsibility when your peers vote you as a captain.
So excited for the challenge they have ahead and for them to lead our football team.
Q. Now that it’s a game week, how do you structure practices? In a typical game week, is it the traditional way of first and second down on Wednesdays, third downs on Thursdays, and the red zone on Fridays? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, Zach, that’s right. The only little difference is, without getting too much into it, we’ll sprinkle in a little third down on Wednesday. We’ll sprinkle in a little red zone on Thursday.
So, again, when we get to Thursday and it’s a heavy third down day, there is a little bit of a review also, and same thing with red zone. Very similar to what you’re saying. Just a little bit of a sprinkle in of third down and red zone so we get just an extra day with those two with the plays that are kind of staples for us.
Q. You talked last week about having goosebumps and being really excited for your first game, and you were just saying as a son and someone who comes from a family of coaches. Can you talk about the dreams you’ve had of this moment? What do you think it’s going to feel like when you’re standing on the field before the anthem getting ready to coach your first game, and what can we expect a Nick Sirianni team to like look week one? (Jamie Apody)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, I can’t let the moment — of course I’m excited and I’m really excited again for my family, excited to be in this role. But I just have to make sure I tempo my emotions, because I always feel like as the leader of the football team people are looking at you. If I’m too up, they’re going to be too up. If I’m too down, they’re going to be down.
I just want to keep this even keel, no matter what’s going through my mind. And I got to — I know myself. I need that so I can stay calm, and I can call the game the way I need to and manage the game the way I need to. Again, just want to be even keeled through all that.
[In regard to what to expect out of a Nick Sirianni team week one] I just always remember my college coach saying, any time we would go play an away game — he was a college coach in the Ohio area, and any time we would go to different parts of Ohio to play a game, he would always say to us as a team, ‘I want them to see a tough team that gives everything they got, that is fundamentally sound, that fights for each other, that’s accountable.’ So really at the end of the day it’s all those.
I just always remember him saying that. Discipline and smart and tough, really the things we talk about with our core values, right? So, I really want to see us being a team that connects. When we’re in the end zone and we get an interception or a fumble recovery or turnover, I want to celebrate together, and then I want to compete. I want to see a team that’s fighting, and that’s part of toughness.
And accountability and football IQ. I want to see a smart team out there in situational football and knowing what to do and not having mental errors and knowing their opponent and who they’re playing.
Then the biggest one to me that I want people to see in our football team is fundamentals. Again, this is something that I talked about from the beginning, that teams that play with good fundamentals, they win one-on-one matchups.
Every coach that I brought in here was brought in here because I believe that they could teach fundamentals and get guys better. So, all those five things particularly, even a little bit more emphasis there on that fundamentally sound thing.
Q. You mentioned Dean Pees earlier in this press conference. In the past his defenses have liked to blitz from several spots on the field. Does having a team that likes to send corners, linebackers, safeties from all those different parts of the field change how aggressive you’re going to be when taking shots down the field or even your play calling as a whole? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: We just have to be ready for it. Just have to be ready for it. I think the first blitz meeting that we always do is we have a standard operating procedure of how we handle different packages. So, recognizing the package, recognizing what they’re doing out of the package, and being ready against a coach like Coach Pees who’s a phenomenal coach. Being ready for anything that they can throw at you.
And so knowing that, hey, we can look at all the tape that we’ve had on him and played against him in the past, obviously we were in the same division with him for a little bit, but also knowing he’s a good coach and he’s going to have some wrinkles too that we haven’t seen.
So being ready to adjust to the different things we see once we get on the field. My experience with that is when you have guys like we have with [C] Jason Kelce and [QB] Jalen Hurts, being able to talk through those things on the sideline when there is a new wrinkle.
So, it’s really good to have the veteran leadership that we have on this team to be able to go through that. And then Jalen is really smart, too, so look forward to seeing how he handles those adjustments we have to make on Sunday.
Q. I just wanted to ask you about a couple housekeeping things. You have that opening on the 53-man. Do you know which direction you’re leaning to at this point to fill that? Secondly, Jim Bob Cooter was a name you threw out there after the Jets game. Curious what his role is and what led to the decision to bring him in? (Ed Kracz)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, not in a big rush there with the 53-man roster, right, because it’s all about the 46 for this week. So not in a big rush. Going to go through all the things we need to go through and go through them together to get the best person in place for that.
As far as Jim Bob goes, we brought him in as a consultant. I’ve worked with him in the past. He was my assistant wide out coach in Kansas City, so worked with him in the past. Obviously, he’s got a lot of experience and he’s a great football mind. I think very highly of him.
So, he’s doing special projects for me and consulting here, which has been great. If I see a play or if we talk about a play that — I just think this is really important. When you put a new play into your system that you maybe saw on tape, I think it’s very easy for a coach to do that and be like, ‘Oh, I saw that on tape. This looks great. I’m just going to through it my offense.’
Well, do you know everything there is to know about that play? I’m not saying Jim Bob knows everything there is to know about every play, but what he is able to do is while we’re doing something else, he’s able to go research that play. I’ve already seen the benefit of that with a couple new wrinkles we have in this offense.
So really excited to have him. I haven’t really ever had that on a staff, and sometimes it deters you from putting in a play that you might like. So we have really gotten a lot out of him and really excited he’s here.
Q. I know in Indy you used to put on the numbers of guys who were injured on your visor. Do you plan on adopting that here? If so, why is that so important to you to acknowledge the guys that can’t be on the field? (Mike Kaye)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I plan on adopting that. I just hope I don’t have to do that. The reason — again, I went through an injury when I was in college, a pretty significant injury.
This is where I kind — my college coach came into the hospital, talked to me, really made me still feel part of the team. My brother was actually the one when he was coaching, he was still at Washington and Jefferson, been there forever, but he was the one who wore my number 25 on his hat.
Both of those scenarios, whether it was my college coach coming into my hospital room and talking to me about how he missed me and continuing to have that conversation going as the season went on, or my brother, both of those really — I was in a down spot, I was in a bad place right there. I don’t want to say bad place.
I was down though, right? I couldn’t be out there with my team. So just that little thing right there really helped me of my brother doing that and Coach Kehres doing that.
So, again, it’s not something that you do — this is one part of it. It’s also the connection that you’re making with that player of continuing to go back and talk to them as if you would talk to them as if he is playing.
I just — that’s our No. 1 core value is connecting, and it’s so important as a team. That’s just not — you don’t just connect with guys that are playing on Sunday. You connect with the guys that have went through everything we have went through until now to get ready.
Hopefully I won’t have to put any of those numbers on my hat, but you’ll know what they mean when I do if I do.