Q. Is there any update in regards to S Reed Blankenship and RB Kenneth Gainwell and their availability for Thursday? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: No. We’ll get that information to you here in a little bit.
Q. The special teams issues, I think you’ve delved in a little bit what happened with the one timeout, but I think there were a couple personnel issues there, and then there were two long returns. Can you go into a little more detail about what happened with the special teams on Sunday? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Sure. Again, any time you’re calling a timeout, that starts with me. Like I said on Sunday, that always starts with me. If there’s a personnel subbing or anything like that, because that always starts with communication.
As far as the couple long returns, that was — I’m never going to say, ‘hey, it was this player or that.’ There were a couple things where, again, when the play doesn’t work, we always have to put them in a better position to succeed.
Also, the players in those situations have to keep the correct fundamentals and execution. So, it’s always going to be on coaching first and then playing second, and we’ll always look at it that way. So very similar to what I said on Sunday.
Q. You played Minnesota last year. It’s such a drastic change from former Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell to Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores, from your perspective, the offensive perspective, how much can you lean on last year’s game, or do you look more towards New England because of Brian’s history with them? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: You look at the personnel that is consistent. So, you’re always going to look at that, the personnel. Schemes are obviously very different.
You do, you know where — like I said, a ton of respect for Coach Flores, and you look at where he’s been, you look at obviously the games that he’s coached for Minnesota, which hasn’t been many, as we know, where he’s been, Miami, and then also where his roots are from New England. So, you look at all those things.
And you’re trying to get your answers that way as much as you possibly can. Yeah, there have been a lot — we’ve watched a lot of tape in these three days and then obviously before these three days too when we were preparing, from different teams. But that’s just what you do. It’s not all that different than our defense last week watching Alabama tape or Houston Texans tape for Coach O’Brien.
Yeah, very similar on the offensive side of the ball this week preparing for the Minnesota defense.
Q. With RB D’Andre Swift, do you view him as a player who can kind of carry the load for a game, or is he more of a guy that has to be a piece of a rotation? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, I think he can play both those roles, no question about it. He’ll be in that role sometimes where he carries the load for the game, and he’ll be in the role sometimes like he was in last game.
Again, we don’t ever want to come out with him only having those many touches. That’s just kind of how the flow went in the game. We had things called for him, but sometimes the ball doesn’t go for him in a certain way. That’s just the way the defense takes it away.
Now, you can always get it to him by just handing it off to him, but I see him being able to play any role that he’s in because of the type of back and the skill set that he has.
Q. After the game, you referenced WR DeVonta Smith last year in week 1, and then he had 15 catches obviously the next two games. Was that a deliberate effort, or did it happen organically within the offense? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: It just happened organically, the way the offense went. We knew that was going to be the case. Again, you never want to get a guy shut out in that scenario, but we know that it can happen because there’s only one ball, and you’re trying to get all of them the ball.
It’s not like, when you take the touch away from DeVonta and give it to [TE] Dallas [Goedert], that’s the bad decision, right? You want to give it to all of them.
Did we try to get him one or two early? Of course, to make sure they know the ball can go anywhere. But it really happened organically. That 15-catch game he had against Washington, that happened — because, again, you don’t want to force anything. You’re the offense. You always want to attack and be on offense, but also you don’t want to force it either.
So, I think what just happened there, that just happened naturally. Obviously, it always will be an emphasis to get all three of those guys the ball and D’Andre.
Q. This is, I think, your fourth short week that you’ve had since you got here. What have you learned from the first few as far as navigating the short week and getting your guys ready by game time? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: When you go into short weeks, first and foremost, it’s about getting the guys’ bodies ready to play. I think being a little earlier in the season, it’s always going to be tough for these guys to turn around and play a game on Thursday night after playing Sunday. There’s no secret about that. It’s really hard for them to be able to do that with the pounding that their bodies take on Sunday.
So, I like the fact that this is early in the season and there’s less wear and tear at least on their bodies. They’re used to practicing back-to-back days from training camp. I look at that as an advantage. Obviously, an advantage that Minnesota has too, but I’m saying an advantage that we have over doing it later in the year.
The first and foremost thing is always about how we can get their bodies ready to go as much as we can. We have phenomenal doctors, phenomenal trainers, phenomenal strength staff with the guys that we have here to help us navigate that. Again, I’m not an expert at that.
My job is to get the guys ready to play while also listening to the experts in that scenario, which is a fine line you balance as the head football coach. But they’ve been awesome in helping the guys get ready.
I’m not going to get into scheme or anything like that, but I think similarities of a short week are very similar to the first game of the year. It’s a lot about fundamentals. It’s a lot about football IQ. And it always is, it always is, but it feels just like a little extra in those senses of these short weeks because it is, it’s about just playing clean football. That’s what our goal is this week as well.
Q. I know that CB Darius Slay is always super high energy, but on a week when he has a matchup like he does this week, do you notice any difference in him in the building? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: No. That’s why Slay is who he is. That’s what you want from your captains. Shoot, that’s what you want from everybody in your building is to be the same consistency every single day, right?
There are so many changes through the year, you’re trying to stay as consistent as you possibly can.
Slay is being Slay, and I love the energy he brings, and that’s what’s great about him. That’s why his teammates voted him a captain is that he has this consistency. It’s tough through a year to have that energy that he brings every single day, but somehow for the past two years and in this week that we’ve been playing this year, he’s brought that energy every day. So, I don’t see that changing any time soon.
So really excited obviously about who Slay is and that he’s one of our captains and one of our key contributors on this team.