Q. Why didn’t DT Jordan Davis play more and was there any correlation between the defensive struggle against the run and there not being enough five D-line on looks? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: We have a rotation obviously that we felt good about. We felt some of those with the way we kind of went about the game, that was our rotation. Sometimes they are going to get different reps, kind of similar to a wide receiver and how many balls they get in certain games or this or that. It just so happened to play out a little bit that way with [DT] Jordan [Davis] yesterday.
Those guys are good players, and we are deep at that position so we want to try to get as many of those guys as many reps as we possibly can. That’s the way the numbers shook out yesterday.
As far as the correlation with the way they ran it and him, I don’t think there was any correlation to that. There’s no doubt we have to do a better job in the run game as far as our defense, and we have been working like crazy to do that here today.
Q. Just to follow up, seemed like the run numbers, there was a discrepancy between when there were four down versus five down. Seemed like they had more success when there were four down linemen than five down linemen. Is that what you saw, too? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, there are different reasons for why the play is being successful. I think you can look at the numbers and see what they say. We are discussing every defense individually and seeing what we do. Whenever we were calling a certain play, we were doing what we thought was best for the team in that particular moment. We’ll see where we feel like our best defenses are and against the run.
But when we had a bigger lead right there, we thought they could potentially be a little more one-dimensional and they did a good job of keeping to their offense. We were up 17 twice and on two different occasions there in the third quarter. Some teams do get a little bit more one-dimensional in that time. They happened to keep it a little bit more balanced. There was a third and 11, I believe, and they are down 17 and they ran the ball.
So, hats off to them. That takes some guts to do that, and they executed it. But a little bit of that comes down to the situation that you’re playing and you’re trying to make educated guesses on what you think the offense and defense is going to do.
Q. Report just came out that DE Derek Barnett has a torn ACL, is out for the year. Can you confirm that? And also, what that means for a guy like DE Tarron Jackson, what you’ve seen from him as far as his growth from last year to this year? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I can confirm that. [DE] Derek [Barnett] will be out, and he tore his ACL. Obviously, that’s a big blow for us. I love the way Derek Barnett comes to work every single day and plays with grittiness and toughness and nasty. I am a huge Derek Barnett fan, and he’ll be missed. So that sucks. I hate that for him. I hate that for this team. And again, like I said, he’ll be missed. I can’t tell you how much I think of Derek.
With that being said, it’s part of this game. I hate that part of this game because I’ve had to live that with injuries myself from when I played in college, and I hate that part of this game. But it is part of this game. [Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and his staff have done a great job of making us deep at the O- and D-Line. We have some good options there. We have good right there. [DE] Tarron [Jackson] wasn’t up yesterday, but how quickly it can turn from you not being up for a game to you having a significant role.
I know our guys understand that. We talk to our guys a lot about that, about their roles and how if you’re a backup, you’re one snap away from going in and it’s just the way that’s going to play out for Tarron.
But my heart breaks for Derek and he’ll be missed, and look forward to Tarron get something more reps, though.
Q. Wanted your thoughts on WR DeVonta Smith and how many reps he got. He obviously got a couple targets. I know you said eventually week-to-week, the football will come to you. But as sort of the offensive architecture and Eagles Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen as the play-caller, how much discipline do you guys have to have to make sure you get guys involved? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: We must. We have to because you never want to be one-dimensional and let them say, ‘Hey, we are taking this away or taking that away.’ [WR] DeVonta Smith is not a good playmaker; [he’s] a great playmaker. I think everybody in this city saw that on hand last year.
You come away from that game and I felt good. I told the offense, we did so many good things. We did so many good things. But yet again, we have a lot to clean up and a lot of it in my mind was communication issues.
I came out of that game thinking, okay, we have communication issues to clean up but man, we ran the ball well. We were pretty efficient passing the ball. We were great on third down. We were really good in the red zone. We had a really good two-minute drive to get points at the end of the half. When you end with the ball in your hand in a four-minute drive, that is huge, huge, huge.
There [are] so many good things we did, but coming away, you’re like DeVonta Smith didn’t get any catches. Sometimes you don’t feel that in the game. He has to touch the ball. There’s no doubt about it. He has to touch the ball, and it’s just the way the game went. When we looked at it, he did have the four targets, but there was a handful of other things that were called for him, and for whatever reason – there are so many different reasons of why it doesn’t go to him and for whatever reason, it didn’t here, and we had some other opportunities to get it to him.
Again, there are multiple reasons why it didn’t. A lot of these plays were still run through him. It just, for whatever reason, it seemed to time up perfectly: [WR] A.J. [Brown] had this huge game and DeVonta didn’t touch the ball at all; oh, my goodness, they are never going to use DeVonta Smith again.
I can promise you that’s not the case. Him, A.J. and [TE] Dallas [Goedert] are who the offense will run through, who the pass offense will run through, and it just was the perfect storm yesterday with where he didn’t get any touches. And hey, that’s my job, though, to make sure that he gets the touches, and we’ll fix that. But a lot was still planned for him.
Q. It looked like the Lions got a lot of pressure on QB Jalen Hurts when he came through via the blitz and other ways. After watching the tape, how can you guys protect him from being hit so much and are you worried about that accumulating over the course of a season? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: I didn’t think the pressure — I said this yesterday, or maybe I said is this morning. Yeah, I think I said it this morning. I didn’t think the pressure was a result of anybody losing one-to-one. It was more a result of them bringing one more than we could block, and so that’s going to happen sometimes.
Not everybody’s going to say, ‘I’ll do this type of pressure,’ and lives with the consequences of it. I thought we had some good things on yesterday and there was just one thing or another. Like we had a pretty good play called for DeVonta on one of the pressures and the ball got batted down. Like that’s a good play by the defense.
So obviously I never want Jalen to take unnecessary hits, but we have to remember, too, what makes — one of the things that makes Jalen special. That’s his ability to create when something is not there or when we have one more guy than we can block, and we didn’t see that it was that type of pressure.
You never want him to take too many hits, that’s for sure. But that is one thing that makes him special. I’m not ever going to say that I’m worried about it, but we will always have a plan for those extra pressures that they have and we’ll do as much as we can to make sure he doesn’t get hit.
Q. We saw WR A.J. Brown in the slot quite a bit yesterday. Generally speaking, what dictates that and what do you like about him in there? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: There are just different — maybe sometimes you’re in a no-huddle look and the guys are supposed to get lined up so we can go fast, right. That’s the beauty of these receivers, they are smart and they can play all these different positions.
Sometimes it’s by design that the ball is going somewhere else on the outside, and you’re shuffling guys around, right. There are so many different reasons why somebody would be in the slot or on the outside. But one thing we always take great pride in is that when you have good play-makers, you want to move them around.
I think the days of this guy always lines up to the left or outside, or this guy always lines up to the right outside, or this guy is always in the slot, are in my opinion are a little bit over in the sense because you do that too much, and you make it a little bit more simple for the defense to take those guys away because they can roll coverage. They can keep the corner over there. They can cheat the linebacker out. It’s much easier when you know where he is. That’s been something we’ve liked to do in the past with our – I know we did that a lot last year with DeVonta. We did that an awful lot with [Chargers WR] Keenan Allen when I was with the Chargers. That’s something that’s always on our mind with our good playmakers.
Q. What stands out about Jalen Hurts’ performance after watching the tape and where does it stack up in terms of performances that you’ve seen since you’ve been here? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think he did a nice job yesterday. I really felt like there were really a lot of moments in that game where he was throwing on rhythm and ripping the ball where it was supposed to be on time. I thought his in the pocket play was really good; the delivery of the football.
Of course, we are all going to want a couple — he touches the ball every time, every play, so of course there are going to be some things we’re like, hey, maybe here or there that you wanted to be a little bit different, but I thought he played a really good game.
As far as his ability with his legs, to gain 90 yards on the ground, some of them obviously were off scrambles and some of them were off designed quarterback runs, or whatever we were doing there, design quarterback runs or read plays and stuff like that. That’s a lot of offense. I think that teams that are typically in the top half of the league in running the football have an element of their quarterback that can run.
So again, I just thought it was a good all-around game that he had, and I thought he was seeing the defense well and getting us to what we needed to get to. I really thought he played a really good game.
I don’t necessarily want to say a rank of the other games. I’m kind of in the moment right now of this season, and some of the play — I remember plays and everything from last year, but I don’t know if I want to comment on where I thought it was in his games in the past. But I definitely thought he played winning football yesterday.
Q. Looking at situational football, particularly on the defensive side, the Lions were 9 of 13 on third downs and 4 of 4 in the red zone. What was the defense lacking in those money situations? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: Keeping those drives alive on a third down, it felt like we had I think three three-and-outs early after that first drive and then we had the turnover. Then it felt like what was happening is like, okay, once they got a first down, we couldn’t stop the bleeding. So once the drive kind of started to go, we just couldn’t get off the field there.
And then the same thing. Then we would get to the red zone and it felt — there were some things that happened in the red zone in the sense of like we would have them on a negative play or a stop and then they would get a chunk to get down inside the five, first and goal inside the five. That happened a couple times.
So it wasn’t that we were giving up explosive plays because by our count we won that explosive play battle by a significant amount based off of how we track all that. So, it was more just the sustained drives and that can be just a short completion here or short completion there or the run game, which wasn’t up to our standard and we know will be better as we move forward.
It always is going to start with us as coaches and then we just have to get them in a good position and help them make plays and we are all in this together. So, it wasn’t one thing here or there. It wasn’t just one particular thing. It was a bunch of things, but it really was highlighted by just the succession of them being able to stack plays on plays on plays, as opposed to hitting any big ones. But still, we have to stop them and get off the field in some of those situations.
Q. I think one of the overlooked parts of yesterday’s game, at least from me, I don’t know about others on this call is the onside kick recovery by CB Zech McPhearson. Didn’t seem to catch you guys off guard and gave you the short field and you were able to cash into a touchdown. What was that play? How did your special teams lineup in that situation? You’re not really expecting it at that point. How big a play was that in your opinion? (Ed Kracz)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, good question. That was a huge play. And to me, I know that doesn’t count as a turnover but it kind of should a little bit in my mind, right. And by where we get the football and how we get it, that momentum, like hey, you just tried to get us and we got you, you know what I mean, that’s a great feeling. First of all, I have to give a ton of credit to [Special Teams Coordinator] Coach [Michael] Clay and [Assistant Special Teams Coordinator] Coach [Joe] Pannunzio and [Special Teams Quality Control] Coach Tyler Brown in the sense of, man, they prepared those guys for that. They knew that was in the repertoire and prepared them for it, and we practiced that. [CB] Zech [McPhearson] did that in a practice.
That’s so cool as a coach. Man, that’s so cool when that happens as a coach where you prep them and then they come out and they execute it. That’s like, we can’t score touchdowns anymore; we can’t get on-side kicks anymore; we can’t get a strip sack fumble anymore. But that’s such a cool thing when we can help them accomplish everything they want to accomplish and what we want to accomplish as a team.
Then Zech just being disciplined in the sense of what he’s taught there, and he’s taught a very specific fundamental there while the ball is getting kicked. Zech stayed true to his rules and he executed a huge play in that game. It wasn’t just Zech. The ball happened to go to Zech and Zech caught it. Our whole line and the whole of everybody in the front was doing that.
So, hey, we talk about this all the time and this is why we walk through so much. We have so much walk through. It’s like, hey, this game — yeah, we are expecting this, or we are expecting that. But what do you do when it’s not that? And so, what you have to do is play your rules in everything. Like it doesn’t matter if it’s offense, defense or special teams, you play your rules and when you play your rules, that doesn’t mean you’re always going to be successful against all the unknowns, but it at least gives you a chance to be.
That’s what Zech did and that’s what our special teams coaches did and our whole special teams unit I thought special teams played really good yesterday and that was a huge, huge play in that game. I mean, it just made me think, hey, what was last year’s big special teams play? It was a Carolina block punt, right, and then boom, there was a big punt return last year and then boom, this one and it’s great to see all phases contributing to winning the football game.
Q. Following up on DE Derek Barnett, could you touch on the significance and impact of having a healthy DE Brandon Graham back in that rotation with that injury, and then just what was it like having BG back on the field yesterday? (Josh Tolentino)
NICK SIRIANNI: It was huge to have [DE] Brandon Graham back, obviously. In the scenario we are in right now you want as much depth as you possibly can there. Having his leadership, and Brandon Graham is not just a great player, he’s a great person and he’s a great teammate.
Man, you just want him on the field. You want him on the field Monday through Saturday as well because naturally there are going to be lulls, right. Like oh, it’s Wednesday, coaches were up all night working and it’s Week 6 and man we are kind of dragging ass today, right and someone has to pick us up, and BG seems like he’s the one that always can do that.
Just because his personality, he has an infectious personality, guys gravitate towards him. That’s why he’s one of our captains and it was great to see him on the field again yesterday. He’s worked so hard to get back, and had a really nice rush on that big sack that [DT] Fletch [Cox] got, which we created pressure on that interior there and on the perimeter. Good to see him back making plays.
Q. Quarterbacks getting hit is not a new topic with rushing quarterbacks and obviously, you are not going to stop QB Jalen Hurts from scrambling. Did you have a number in mind for how often you want to have those designed runs or designed read plays for him over the course of a game? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: No, I don’t. Every game is going to be called for something different. I know this: That if we need to throw it 50 times to win the game, we’ll do that. If we need to run it to [RB] Miles [Sanders] and [RB] Boston [Scott] and [RB] Kenny [Gainwell] 50 times, we’ll do it. If we need to run [QB] Jalen [Hurts], I won’t say 50 because the number you’re asking is a little south of 50 but if we have to run him 20 times to win a game, we’ll do it. Jalen knows how to protect himself. That doesn’t mean you can always account for somebody getting an extra shot on him. I get that. Obviously, we have seen that. I think it happened in the Jets game this training camp, and then obviously it happened a couple times yesterday. You can’t always account for that.
But he’s very smart about how — he doesn’t take hits like a normal quarterback take hits. He knows, he has rare instincts in the sense of how to get down and how to scramble out. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect every time. I get that. But he does have rare instincts and we do trust his decision-making process there.
But we are going to do what we can do to protect him at all times without that affecting how we win the football game if that makes sense.
Q. Do you find yourself thinking, man, it’s only Week 1 or are you so much a prisoner of the game that you think, we have to do what we’ve got to do to win this week? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: You’re always thinking the big picture, obviously, when it comes to player safety and player health. That’s why we practice the way we do, right, and that’s why we are always thinking about that. And so, yes, you do think about — in the game, you’re like, all right, well, this is the only game that matters right now, I’m not worried about anything else. It’s a fine line and there are a lot of those situations in football where there are fine lines in it.
So to answer your question, yes to both.
Q. Just to follow up, the slides, specifically, it seems like there’s contact on every slide he makes. He’s down. Why is there contact on every slide and did you take this up with the officials, and are you going to talk with the league about this? Is there a benefit of you making a big deal of this? (Les Bowen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Here is the way the rule reads, and I can just educate us on the way it reads. The way it reads is, if [QB] Jalen [Hurts] slides before anybody is committed to tackling him, then they can’t touch him, right.
So now when he slides, and the guy is already in the process of making the tackle — because the guys can’t just let up right. We wouldn’t want our guys to teach it that way either because if he hasn’t started his act of sliding, we want those guys to continue in the process of trying to tackle him.
If he starts his slide while they are in the process of trying to tackle him, he’s free game, except for in the head and neck area, if that makes sense.
We got a couple called yesterday because it went to the head and neck area. I have to remind myself, I think this is a good opportunity for me to say that to the fans and myself out there because I never want him to get hit. Let’s be honest, I know what Bo [Wulf] asked me, but we got to run him — I don’t ever want him to get hit.
That is within the rules of the game, and I have to remind myself — the reason I’m so educated in that rule is one, it’s my job to be, but also, is because I have to educate myself so I don’t fly off the handle that he got hit. That doesn’t always mean I’m perfect with that because I know I do.
That is the way the rule writes, and I know the referees have a really hard job, and I think they did a good job of officiating that. To be honest, I think they did a really good job of officiating that yesterday.
Q. Before the season, maybe a few days before, I polled a bunch of the players and asked them who they thought maybe deserved a little more attention and several of them said LB Kyzir White. What do you think of his performance, and do you think you just kind of got lucky bringing in a player like that on that kind of deal? (Pat Gallen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Man, he is a physical player. He can come in there and stick. He did that on a couple occasions yesterday. He made a huge play that helped us change the game and put us up 14 points by a play that he made.
Then obviously [CB] James [Bradberry] finished it off but what [LB] Kyzir [White] did also on that play was he got the tip. He had great coverage on [Lions TE T.J.] Hockenson, and [DT] Marlon [Tuipulotu] got a great pass rush to put pressure on [Lions QB Jared] Goff where Goff had to get off. Then all of the sudden, like he’s got that great coverage on Hockenson. He tips it, gets it to James, and then he gets himself — because he dove for that tip. He gets himself off the turf fast and gets a block on [Lions RB D’Andre] Swift to spring James for a touchdown.
But that’s who he is. He’s all go at all times, and he has the knack to make plays. We’ve seen that in the two games he’s played here, right, the interception against the Jets and he made the play here.
I can’t say how much I think of him, how physical he is, right. He’s a physical man and I love that. I love that about him, because that’s the name of this game.
Just a great job by [Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and his staff of getting good players in here and Kyzir is definitely one of them. I don’t want to say it was a steal — I don’t want to say anything like that. I’m just sure as heck glad we got him. I’m sure as heck glad he’s not on the Chargers anymore and he’s a Philadelphia Eagle.
Q. You got ten points on two possessions book ending halftime. On the one before the half after QB Jalen Hurts had taken the sack on first down, put you at second and 15, under a minute to go, you guys seemed content to just run clock at that point. Was that the plan before the Lions then called timeout? (Jimmy Kempski)
NICK SIRIANNI: We were still content on going and getting it. The Lions called a timeout off of — we ran the first play. We ran a play on the first play and got a good start. Then we, the second play, I think we passed it to get the first down and then we took the sack right there. I think the Lions called a timeout and we ran a pass play the next down.
It was a scramble. We were playing to go down there and get points, so [QB Jalen Hurts] he had to scramble on that play and then he scrambled, and then we called a timeout and it took us to third and four.
I’m trying to replay this whole thing in my head. I’ve watched the game like eight times, so I think I’ve got it pretty good.
On third and four, we took the deep shot to [WR] A.J. [Brown] and A.J. caught it and got us down to the five. I’m pretty sure that was the progression of it. We were playing to score that entire time. We had a lot of faith in our offense right there and we went down and scored.
Our intent was to go score and that’s what we did.
Q. Was it more like you are just kind of — because you didn’t seemed to have like an urgency after QB Jalen Hurts got sacked after that play, but you’re still going to try to move the ball down the field but maybe running just a little bit of clock? (Jimmy Kempski)
NICK SIRIANNI: Well, I believe they called a timeout there.
Q. They called a timeout after the sack. I’m saying if they had not, would you have just — you would have still tried to go down and score? (Jimmy Kempski)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’ll keep that to myself. But yeah, we’d still try and go down and score. You play it differently. We passed the next down. You play it differently based on some things.
I appreciate the question. But we were trying to score the whole time.