Q. The start wasn’t great, the first couple series, I think QB Jalen Hurts was 1-5, for 5 yards. And then things really clicked into gear. What was different with him? What sort of adjustments did you make? Did you have to talk to him at all? It looked like they were really kind of pushing him out of his comfort zone on the first couple series, and then they weren’t. (Les Bowen)
NICK SIRIANNI: That’s a good defense. I got a lot of respect for that defense, especially there in the interior of the line with [Commanders DT Daron] Payne and with [Commanders DT Jonathan] Allen and [Commanders DE Montez] Sweat. They did a good job of stopping us early.
I think what really got us going was the deep ball to [WR] DeVonta [Smith]. They were kind of squatting on some things, and we went deep and that got us going.
Then after that, we got three on that drive, then after that, the defense got a huge, huge turnover there with [DE] Brandon Graham stripping and [DT] Javon [Hargrave]’s recovery. Really good execution on that screen pass.
I think sometimes it just takes to see the ball go through the hoop, right? You’re not going the way you want it to go right away, but then you got an easy touch there for [TE] Dallas [Goedert], and the offensive line, [C] Jason Kelce, [G] Isaac [Seumalo], do an unbelievable job on that screen to get him in the end zone. I think it just started going from there.
First of all, credit to their defense. Secondly, credit to our defense to get the big turnover, and DeVonta and [QB] Jalen [Hurts] making a huge play. Then getting that touch for the touchdown was big.
Q. The offensive side is having success against the zone coverages this year. Why is that the case? Why do you think the receivers are having success against that coverage? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think we just have really good receivers. I think that’s one big thing, is that Jalen is playing at a high level, our receivers are outstanding players with DeVonta and [WR] A.J. [Brown] and [WR] Quez [Watkins]’ speed out there, Dallas being a mismatch in there.
You can’t devote all your attention in zone to one guy. They got to play their zones. Jalen is doing a good job of finding the guys.
We talk a lot about route discipline. What that means is when it’s man, you got to beat the man, it’s me versus you, I got to win this play. When it’s zone, it’s about the quarterback making the right decision with the football on time, and it’s about the receivers and the tight ends and running backs being where they’re supposed to be within that zone.
If you’re supposed to be on the inside edge of the numbers, you’ve got to be on the inside edge of the numbers. And then obviously, everything starts with the protection. We’re getting great protection obviously from our offensive line. Can’t say enough about the offensive line of how good of an offensive line we have.
You win games up front. I don’t care what level it is. My son’s team, he’s seven, and he’s playing tackle football this year. And they won this weekend because they got good O-line, D-line play.
Q. Two personnel questions: WR DeVonta Smith, what prompted you to put him back there on the punt return? What made this the week that TE Grant Calcaterra was ready to play? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: [TE] Grant [Calcaterra] has just been continually getting better. He missed some time, as we all know, during training camp and it took him a little bit of time to get up to speed with all the time that he missed. We’ve always had a lot of faith in him in the passing game. We wanted to make sure we caught him up in the run game. I think he did a nice job there. Obviously had that big 40-yard gain to start off the second half.
As far as DeVonta goes, we’ve been talking about that. How many different times can we get the football in DeVonta’s hands? He’s really sure-thanded back there. He was really good at returning punts at Alabama the times that he did do it. We have faith in him based off of our practice reps that he can go back there and do it.
We wanted a little spark. We threw him back there. I think [WR] Britain [Covey] did a good job, too. He put the one on the ground, but I think he did a good job, too. It wasn’t a slight by any means on Britain, we just wanted to get the ball in DeVonta’s hands when they were backed up. He did a nice job of getting some yardage off of that.
Again, how do we get guys that can make plays the ball in their hands and we thought that was the opportunity to do that with DeVonta.
Q. As a quick follow up, can that grow into a bigger role for him or is it a spot thing here and there? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: We’ll see. We’ll see how that goes, what that turns into. As of right now, it’s a spot thing. But who knows. We’ll see how that goes. Continue to see how the season goes. We’ll see what happens there.
Q. We’ve seen a big jump in QB Jalen Hurts’s play through the first three weeks. What’s the biggest reason for it? Is there anything he’s done so far that’s surprised you? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, I don’t think we’ve seen Jalen’s ceiling. I know we haven’t seen Jalen’s ceiling, he just continues to get better. I think it’s just the progression that Jalen Hurts makes as a player. Why is that? You guys know what I’m going to say, right? He’s tough. He loves football. Those are major things that are going to help a guy reach their ceiling.
I just think you’ve seen tremendous progression from him because he works at it and he loves it. He doesn’t make the same mistake twice. He’s doing a great job right now. We got to continue that. We’re working like crazy to continue to help put him in good positions to make plays.
Jalen is seeing the field really well right now. Even if we don’t put him in position to make a play, he can get us to the right play. He’s got that. He’s done some nice things there as far as his checks, too.
Q. What are your teaching points for throwing the jump ball and for catching it? (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Get good players that can go execute it.
The one thing we do as a staff is we try to put them in positions with catching the football that you don’t get on a typical basis.
For instance, you don’t get a lot of low balls out at practice. We simulate that with our drill work where we’re going to throw them 10 low balls in a row. You don’t get a lot of behind balls at times in practice, so you try to simulate that. You don’t get a lot of traffic catches at practice so we try to simulate that different ways, whether we put a towel around their arm, yank at it when he catches it. We also have a thing where we slap down on his hands when he catches it. There’s a variety of different things.
You don’t get a ton of sideline catches out there, so you simulate that in what we call our catch circuit. So, we’re trying like crazy to put them in positions, so it’s not the first time they make that catch is on Sunday. If you think you’re going to go out and make a catch on Sunday that you haven’t practiced, that might be a little unrealistic.
At the end of the day, we could have done those drills with them till we were blue in the face, or not done them at all. But DeVonta is going to make that play because DeVonta’s a heck of a football player and Jalen put the ball where it needed to be and DeVonta went up and got it. That was super impressive and an outstanding play.
I think one thing you see about DeVonta is that he’s going to catch the ball, right? He’s really outstanding of just catching the football in different body positions, whether it’s the over-the-shoulder catch he made that kind of got us started or the post that he caught in the middle of the field at the end of the first half in traffic or it was the jump ball type play that he made to score the touchdown. He just does a phenomenal job of making those different types of catches because of the hands that he has.
DeVonta has played catch a ton throughout his life where he’s made all these catches millions and millions of times.
Q. I saw that you showed the team a video of Kobe Bryant leading into the Olympic Games, saying he was going to put a shoulder into the chest of Pau Gasol that first one. I guess that’s not coincidental you rolled that out the game that they faced off against Commanders QB Carson Wentz? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Well, it’s interesting. The message of the week last week, I think you asked me this last week, was to compete, compete, compete, compete. We actually started last week’s video of [CB Darius] Slay talking about [Minnesota Vikings WR] Justin Jefferson in the top 100, where he’s like “I’m watching your film, I’m ready to compete.”
The whole message was, how can we compete our butts off this week?
I had a very specific story I wanted to tell on Saturday night. I did tell that story. But on the bus ride up to Washington, I’m watching college football, I’m kind of sorting through my phone. That video pops up. I’m like, man, this is like the perfect video for tonight to add to it. It was a two-minute clip. But it was a perfect video to add to the story that I was telling there.
It did fit pretty well. Pau Gasol is my brother, Pau Gasol is my teammate, Pau Gasol I love him, but I’m running through that guy’s chest, right? It was a cool video. I think it fit really well this weekend to say that we’re the ultimate competitors.
You don’t just get a guy to be an ultimate competitor. The prerequisite of getting on this football team was to be an ultimate competitor, so those guys have it in them. I was just reminding them of it. Then someone made it clear to me that the score ended up 24-8, which I thought was pretty cool, even though we wanted to score a lot more points than that and we wanted them to score nothing, but we’ll take that.
Q. You said yesterday at the end of the first half you weren’t going to settle for three, you wanted to get seven. Was that because you were on the one yard line or was that your idea of going into that drive? Also, why did you go for it on fourth down at the end of the game to close it out? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: That’s going to play a little different each week as far as the end of the half. In that particular case we decided that forget where the ball is and everything like that, in that particular case we were going for it. We wanted to go for it right there. Our players executed really well.
As far as the end of the game, just wanted to end with the ball in our hands. We had three runs there, got us to fourth and three. I felt really confident in the play that [Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] called, what we had talked about calling right there, that we were going to get the ball, end it. [WR] A.J. [Brown] was going to get the first, we were going to take knee and end the game right there.
Our defense had been on the field a long time in the second half. I thought that was the right decision. Good job by the players to execute that decision. Good job by the players to execute throughout the game.
Q. Interesting week coming up. Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson returning. Wanted your thoughts on that. Is Indianapolis Head Coach Frank Reich going to answer either text message this week? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: [Colts Head Coach] Frank [Reich] better answer my text message first since they’re in the division together. I can’t tell Frank who to root for or who he needs to like better out of [Jaguars Head Coach] Doug [Pederson] and I. I think he’s got a good relationship with both of us.
I know Frank is the ultimate competitor. I imagine he’ll be rooting for the AFC South team to lose. We got good mojo on that.
As far as Doug, I got a ton of respect for him. I don’t know him personally. I’ve talked to him a couple times. I only know him through obviously the people in this building and through Frank. I’ve heard nothing but phenomenal things. I think he’s a great football coach. Obviously, he brought this city a world championship. So much respect for him.
I know that I’m pretty far into my Jacksonville preparation right now. You can just tell that they’re well-coached. It doesn’t surprise me at all because I know how good of a coach Coach Pederson is.
We’re going to be working like crazy to put our guys in good position. I know he will be doing the same there. Not only do I have a lot of respect for Coach Pederson as a football coach, I know a handful of those guys on the staff as well that I think are really phenomenal coaches, with [Jaguars Passing Game Coordinator] Jim Bob [Cooter], [Jaguars Quarterbacks Coach Mike] McCoy, [Offensive Coordinator] Press [Taylor]. There’s some guys I know. They got some good coaches over there. I think their defense is doing a really nice job as well. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the defensive coordinator over there, too.
Q. Any of the guys who maybe missed time yesterday, particularly G Landon Dickerson, anybody suffer anything that’s significant? (EJ Smith)
NICK SIRIANNI: We expect them to be good going into this week. I mean, we’ll let you guys know as we continue on here. But nothing structurally that is highly concerning to us about these guys.
We’ll keep our eye on them and see what the plan is for Wednesday at practice. We’ll see how that goes.
Q. What have you seen from DT Fletcher Cox and DE Brandon Graham, your two oldest guys on defense? They’re both playing fewer snaps and their production has been terrific. How much does limiting their snaps and the depth you have up front help them? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think you said it right there, right? It’s hard to limit their snaps when you don’t feel comfortable with the guys behind them, right?
Knowing that’s still good for them, that their snaps are limited a little bit, but it’s hard when you don’t have faith in those guys, you know they’re not playing a good level.
We obviously have major faith in the guys that are backing up [DT] Fletch [Fletcher Cox] and [DE] B.G. [Brandon Graham], that they’re going to do a nice job, come in and give great reps when they’re out.
To be able to have that depth at the defensive line, can’t say enough for how [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] has built this team on the offensive and defensive line. It’s pretty unbelievable the depth that we have, the amount of good players that we have there.
So of course it keeps them fresh and it keeps the guys fresh. You’re able to pin your ears back and get after the quarterback in those pass situations when you are fresh.
I just can’t say enough about those two guys on the defensive side with both Fletch and B.G. of everything that they bring to the table. Not just when they’re on the field rushing the passer, but in the run game, whether it’s B.G. crushing the edge on a run game or it’s Fletch eating up a double-team and pushing the guard back into the running back on that, or also how they are in the locker room.
These guys, they know what it takes to get to the top of the mountain. They’ve done it, right? They’ve walked to the top of the mountain. They’ve had the long journey to the top of the mountain, planted that Eagles flag on top of the mountain and won a world championship. They know what it takes to do that.
You can see how much it means to them that they have that C on their chest, that they have that captain on their chest. Whether it’s B.G.’s constant energy of how happy he is to be there every day, and he doesn’t take a day for granted, he works like crazy every single day, worked like crazy to get back from his injury, or whether it’s Fletch who has a guy behind him that we drafted in the first round and he’s working his butt off to help this guy develop, to help [DT] Jordan Davis develop. That’s special. There’s not a lot of teams in the league. We’ve heard guys say before, it’s not my job to make sure this guy is good.
In Fletch’s mind, [C] Jason Kelce’s mind, it is their job. They’re doing everything they can to help these guys because they know at the end of the day, you got me going now, but they know at the end of the day, it’s what we talked about, I am because we are.
Never be threatened by somebody else’s goodness, right? Understand that when somebody in your position or your team is playing at a high level, it’s going to be good for you also. That’s a team. You don’t get that in a team unless you have captains like we have.
Man, this team is special because of that. This team has special captains and special leadership. Man, I’m really happy about that because that’s hard to find.
Q. Can you expand on that a little bit, please? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: (Laughter).