NICK SIRIANNI: Before we start, I just want to share our sympathy and our prayers with Hugh Douglas and his family after the tragic passing of his son. We’re really thinking about them a lot, Hugh and Simona and just want to give our sympathies there. Very tragic. And I’m told the young man was an unbelievable kid, and so just want to put that out there first.
Q. How much of an advantage is there having somewhat of an unknown as your defensive coordinator going into the season, and how much does that play a role as you game plan for week one? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think anytime there’s unknown that’s an advantage. So, I always think that’s why we were very vanilla in the preseason. We didn’t want to show a lot of different things that we plan on doing during the season. Just like a first-year staff, we’ve got a first-year coordinator here with the Eagles. I think that’s an advantage.
Obviously, I know [Patriots Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks] Coach [Bill] O’Brien on the other side, first-year coordinator back with the Patriots. There’s a lot of film there, but it’s the same thing. I think definitely not knowing is an advantage. So obviously both sides have that going on right now.
Q. In terms of your offseason research about like handling success and stuff like that, how much did you look at Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick’s history, and how much was he sort of a tent pole for you? (Bo Wulf)
NICK SIRIANNI: Obviously just honored to be able to coach against him on Sunday. Just have the utmost respect for him and everything that he’s done for this game and in this game.
I’ve always been fascinated about Coach Belichick and his style of coaching and why he’s been so successful. Guys that I’ve learned — I think about [Giants Head Coach] Brian Daboll and the elevation that my coaching career took after being around him. I know Coach Daboll always talked about where he learned it was from Coach Belichick.
Just have so much respect for him and always fascinated by everything that he does. A ton of success year after year after year. And so, of course, I’ve studied him and different things with his success.
Q. Senior Defensive Assistant Matt Patricia is on the coaching staff now. He’s spent so much time there in New England with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. How much do you rely on him for this upcoming week? (Chris Franklin)
NICK SIRIANNI: You try to turn over every stone you possibly can looking for answers and different things. Like I said, anybody that’s been around Coach Belichick, you’re always asking questions about, whether it’s scheme or whether it’s coaching philosophies. I’ve always been fascinated by him and his coaching tree.
So, again, like I said, Brian Daboll, big mentor to me. And then just how big of a help Coach Patricia has been to me as well, just with general coaching philosophies and also scheme-wise.
Of course, you’re going to look for every advantage you can get, and that’s what we’re doing this week.
Q. Any insight or can you provide detail in how you announce team captains for this year, similar to how you did last year? And as a follow-up to that, just your reaction or the deservedness of WR A.J. Brown and WR DeVonta Smith specifically as first-timers? (Josh Tolentino)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’m not great at keeping secrets, so last year I had to tell [CB Darius] Slay that he was a captain. And this year I was a little bit better at keeping the secret. So, I waited until our team meeting.
And our team meeting always, when we announce those captains, is about roles. And so, I think that’s a really important team meeting. You go through and you solidify, you tell everybody what their role is on the football team. And obviously roles can change if you excel in your role.
So, at the end of that meeting, after talking about roles, it’s like, all right, now who are the captains? In addition to the responsibilities, we talked to you guys about, here are also the captains and what your role is as a captain.
And basically, their role as captain is they got voted a captain for a reason, and it’s to lead the way they lead. They’ve been voted by their peers as captains. So it is, ‘go lead the way you lead.’
And so that was kind of how we did it. I put the guys up last year so — I announced the offensive captains and put [C] Jason [Kelce] and [T] Lane [Johnson] and [QB] Jalen [Hurts] up. And announced the defensive captains and put [DE] Brandon [Graham] and [DT] Fletch [Fletcher Cox] and Slay up. The special teams captains, and put [K] Jake [Elliott] up. I paused, right. And then I went into the two new captains.
Anytime you can give guys good news, guys that are not only tremendous players but tremendous leaders and tremendous people on your team, that’s obviously something that you really enjoy and remember as a coach.
And so really happy for all the guys voted captain because it just says so much about them and what their teammates think about them. And then just obviously get really excited for the guys that are going to wear the C on their chest for the first time this year.
And so, it doesn’t surprise me at all because A.J. and DeVonta have special leadership qualities and play tremendous football, and they lead in their own way.
So, I’m just really happy for them. Really happy for all the guys. But you asked me about the two new guys, really happy for them. I love being able to give good news out, and I was able to do that there.
Q. Do you care to announce the starting safety for Sunday? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: [Shakes head no].
Q. I didn’t think so. And number two, you mentioned Senior Defensive Assistant Matt Patricia and your fascination with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. How much have you picked his brain about Bill? And is there anything in particular that has fascinated you watching Bill Belichick from afar? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: I’m always fascinated by people who are consistent, and that’s what his career has been is this unbelievable consistency of success. And so that’s what I’m always fascinated about.
And so what you ask questions about is the process, daily operations, all those different things. Look, every time you watch his defense play, you see the fundamentals on display. You see the smart situations on display, the situational football intelligence on display.
I guess a lot of those things have inspired me to say, hey, what’s important to winning football games. Well, football IQ and fundamentals.
I think one thing is, like, hey, the core values are a direct reflection of great coaches and teams I’ve studied in the past, and he’s obviously at the top of that list.
So, again, I won’t answer your first question yet. No need to yet.
But the second part is, yeah, it’s not something — it’s just the daily process of questions — hey, what would Bill do in this situation right here kind of things.
So those are constant conversations, and I feel like I just have a good tap into him from guys that he’s been around for a long time. I’m honored that I’m able to do that. Because, again, when we show a play or a route or something like that, we show our guys how to do it, from great players of the past, great plays we’ve made here as Eagles.
So, you’re able to see that. So, it’s the same, but it’s no different as coaches. You want to study great coaches of the past and present and just try to perfect your craft.
Q. Offensively you’re talking about studying coaches. You guys had so much success last season. QB Jalen Hurts had so much success. Presumably, you’re going to get some curveballs. Does your self-scout kind of give you a good indication of what you’re going to get? Or is it more reactionary when it pops up? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: Definitely your self-scout — yes to both. Yes to both of your questions. Yes, your self-scout is going to play a factor into that. You are always constantly looking at what tendencies you have, what looks, everything.
And the tendencies, it’s not just plays or situational plays. It’s also how guys are standing and how different things look. There are some things that you just have to dig and dig and dig and try to find to scout yourself.
And that’s where you have different people. One reason I love having a defensive senior assistant and an offensive senior assistant is the offensive senior assistant can give you a self-scout of what you’re doing offensively from an offensive point of view, and the defensive senior assistant can do the same thing on a defensive point of view.
That’s something we’re obsessed with of trying to have. I’ve always been taught, too, sometimes good teams have tendencies. They have tendencies. But you’re trying to break those as much as you possibly can.
The other thing is, my experience has been that when you’ve had success on offense, you have to be ready for the unexpected.
You have to be ready for things that they didn’t put on tape. And so, what you’re trying to do in walk-throughs specifically is recreate that as much as you can. Hey, what stops this play? Well, this can stop it, this can stop it, this can stop it, whatever it is.
And you try to say, all right, this is in their scheme. Show them that. But then you’re also trying to pick and choose, well, they could do this. They didn’t show them that on tape, but they could do it. That’s been my experience when we’ve been successful on offense is that you have to expect unexpecteds.
One thing I talked about in our roles to the guys is like, hey, [C] Jason Kelce and [QB] Jalen Hurts, there’s nobody else in this world I want to handle the unexpecteds other than you guys out there on the field.
They’re the two best doing it in the world, in my opinion. And so, nobody else I’d rather have handling the unexpecteds than Jason Kelce and Jalen Hurts because a lot of times you as a coach can’t handle it until after it happens, or you can prep them, but you can’t handle it until after it happens on the sideline.
So, it’s the players on the field that have to handle it the first time it happens. And, again, like I said, nobody else in the world — the football IQ on those two guys is off the charts, and they set the table of where we go and how the play’s being blocked or the check or anything like that.
So excited they’re there because I know you can expect unexpecteds when you’ve had success on offense.
Q. You mentioned earlier about like the unknowns going into week one, and I kind of wanted to ask you about the running back room in particular. The last couple of years, obviously, Former Eagles RB & Current Carolina Panthers RB Miles Sanders, everybody knew Miles Sanders was your main guy. But how much of an advantage is it, not only for this game Sunday but week to week, having RB D’Andre Swift and what he can do, RB Rashaad Penny and what he can do, RB Kenny Gainwell, and even RB Boston Scott? Is it something week to week you can adjust and it’s still an unknown? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think the more guys you can have that are able to do the job description the better. It’s a deep group. And we’ll see how it goes.
Really, the running back room can go — I’ve said this to you guys before — the running back room can be either way. It can be by committee. It can be with one guy that’s taking all the carries or a majority of the carries.
And so, we’re excited that a lot of different guys can do it. We were capable of that last year, in my opinion, as well, and I think you saw a little bit more of that in the playoffs. But [Former Eagles RB/ current Panthers RB] Miles [Sanders] just had a tremendous year last year. But we were still capable of doing so.
So, we’ll see how it plays out. I can say it’s by committee and then somebody gets hot, and we stick with them. We’ll see how it plays out. But what I love is the depth in that room and the capabilities of the guys in that room.
I don’t think it’s like you force anything because I think they’re all good at inside zone. I think they’re all good at pin/pull schemes. I think they’re all good at toss/crack schemes. I think they’re all gap schemes. I think that gives you some flexibility and some abilities to say we’re not predictable going in because they all have a very wide, broad skill set.
Q. You spoke about the role meeting multiple times over the past two-plus years. What’s the origin of that meeting? And you’re dealing with 53 guys who are all confident they can play. How do they all take it? (Zach Berman)
NICK SIRIANNI: The origin is being very descriptive — when we talk about meetings, we say high detail in meetings. And we say to ourselves the job description for this play and that play has to be very clear. It’s my job as the head coach that the job description for the staff is very clear.
There’s nothing worse than when you don’t know exactly what you’re supposed to do and what the job description is.
It starts there with the play. Like, hey, the job description has to be very clear. This is what you’re going to do — here’s what we expect you to do. Here’s the standard of what we expect you to do against this look, this look, this look, this look, every different thing they can get.
So why would I do anything different? My thought process is why would I do anything different when we talk about the roles on the team. And my whole point of roles is not everybody’s role is the same, but everybody’s role is important. Some guys are going to be in roles that they look at and say, man, I want more out of the role, right?
And our job, when we’re in that role, is to just bust our butt and be ready for our opportunity when that happens. That’s happened here, whether it’s [LB] Christian Elliss starting on the practice squad and then turned into making plays on special teams.
Whether it’s [LB] Nakobe’s [Dean] new role from this year to last year, whether it’s [S] Reed Blankenship’s role from last year to this year. Roles are constantly evolving if you’re putting in that work to do so.
So, again, like you said, it’s tough, sometimes your role is to contribute on special teams, and to be — and I’m just saying a generic one. There’s more to it. I try to look the guys in the eye and tell them exactly what we expect.
But sometimes it’s you’re the backup and you’re contributing on special teams. And you’ve got to be the best gunner in the world, whatever it is.
And that player might want more. So that’s the tough part of it, but you try to be as honest as you can with all of your conversations. You try to be as honest as you can with everything you talk about so everybody knows what it is going in.
But that doesn’t mean you’re forever in that role. I wouldn’t be sitting here if my role was always as an offensive coordinator. And there’s examples of that. [RB] Kenny Gainwell and [RB] Boston Scott didn’t dress for a number of games in 2021.
As we saw, as the year went on, those guys continued to impress. Then we saw last year, and where we are this year. So, there’s great examples of that. That’s kind of where that came from.
I actually heard a coach talk about it, too, where he had to give a role talk. It was actually [Former Philadelphia Sixers Head Coach] Doc Rivers would give that talk to guys, and he said that to us when we were in Indianapolis. And so whatever the combination of those two made me think, ‘hey, this is an important meeting to have.’
Q. You mentioned how you referred to New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and tried to learn from him. He’s been through something you’re about to go through, which is your schedule is kind of all over the map in terms of game times. And I realize players are sort of creatures of habit. Are there things that you’ve done or talked to or people you have referred to, to ask about how to best handle that? I realize the schedule is the schedule, but you are playing at a good amount of unusual times? (Rob Kuestner)
NICK SIRIANNI: Obviously, our sole focus this week is playing at 4:25. I know saying, one day at a time, one step at a time, it’s a lot easier said than done because it’s easy to go, okay, then after this we have that.
But our sole focus is this one right now, right here. But do I look for an edge in everything that we do? Yeah, I’m trying to find an edge in everything that we do. So part of that is the research, the research on a Monday night game. The research on a Monday night game on the West Coast. The research on a Monday night game in two time zones away. The research on a Monday night game in the same time zone. A home Monday night game. Thursday night. Bye week. After a bye week.
So, there are all these different schedule things that happen throughout the year. Even if you’re just playing at 1:00, right? There’s still all — Thursday night games, Sunday night games, Monday night games, all these different things — bye weeks, all these different things.
So, what you’re trying to do is just again perfect your process for each one. That’s what you’re trying to do. So, I’ve tried to do as much as I could studying and asking different coaches’ philosophies of all those different things. And at this point, in year three, you kind of have your model for each one.
Now, you’re constantly tweaking that. Your goal is to perfect the process and to keep tweaking it and getting better at it, but you can’t perfect the process unless you know exactly what that process is.
We’re continuously trying to get better and better and better at it, but at least our formula, our guts are there for all these different time games to go from.
Naturally, you can’t be cemented in on that. Like, if it’s a good thing for you to practice on a Wednesday or not practice on a Wednesday, or whatever it is, you’ve got to be willing to flow and change and adapt based off what your team needs.