Q. Hey, Nick. You mentioned Thursday, I guess, was your final install practice. So, I’m curious how things change from this point forward. What changed Saturday? What changed as far as practice? (John McMullen)
NICK SIRIANNI: The major difference, now, is there will be some scripted periods, meaning our coaches have prepared and that were scripted all the way out, but a lot more – there’s going to be a lot more ‘call it’ periods, meaning the players won’t have access to that script. We’ve got an idea what we’re going to call, so it’s going to be more like a game. There’s going to be a call sheet, like, ‘Here’s our practice call sheet, and we’re going to go off that menu, and all the installs will be in there.’
So, the way we did it the other day was there were some periods that were just call it and move the ball, so if you got yourself in a third and eight, you called the third and eight. So that was great. That’s really good for the players because, again, they can’t study the script. They’ve got to go out and react like it is a game, and it’s really good for the coaches. It’s good for me to call the game like that. It’s good for [Eagles Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] to listen in and help assist with me on that, and it’s good for [Eagles Defensive Coordinator] Jonathan [Gannon] to call a game like that.
So, that was the major difference of how practice structure was as far as on Saturday, and there will be a very similar practice style today.
Q. After a practice like yesterday where the offense, I guess, was a little uneven, what’s your message to them? I mean, when there’s periods that are that lopsided, what’s your message to QB Jalen Hurts, and how did he handle all of it? (Reuben Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Well, you know, we were getting ready for this press conference, and I was talking to [Eagles Senior Vice President, Communications] Bob [Lange], and we were looking at the practice – here’s everything – here’s what I always have to go on. When we come off of the field, there’s going to be sometimes – this happens to me as a coach, and it happens to me – it’s happened to me my entire career as a coach, so I’ve just learned from this – you come off the field sometimes, and you’re like, ‘Man, that practice stunk.’ Then you go in, and you watch the tape, and you’re like, ‘Hey, it wasn’t that bad.’
You come off the field sometimes, and you’re like, ‘Man, that practice was really good,’ and you come off, and you’re like, ‘Man, we kind of stunk.’ So sometimes that happens in practice where you feel that.
And so, I kind of felt practice was neutral, to be a hundred percent honest with you, the other day. And, going back and looking at the tape, it pretty much was, the way we scored it out and everything like that. Now– so, just sometimes it’s just watching those periods, those seven-on-seven periods and that 11-on-11 period, and see what happened.
The thing I was disappointed on as far as the offense goes, because the play – like I said, the plays – the win-losses on plays were pretty even. The third down was a little low, about 5 percent lower than what we look for, and then the turnovers – we had a turnover in a critical period, and it went for a pick six as an offense. Then we had also [QB] Jalen [Hurts] had a turnover on a scramble drill, and we had another snap that went over [QB] Joe’s [Flacco] head or Joe mishandled. So, that’s what I wanted back from that practice.
As far as the work that we got, offense versus defense, I thought it was good, and I thought it was pretty even. But, again, want those turnovers back. And there was a couple plays too that Coach Gannon looked at me and said, ‘That’s an offensive win?’ And I said, ‘Jonathan, you guys got that push in the pocket, but Jalen has a very unique skill set of being able to scramble and make the play.’ So there was enough protection there that I didn’t call a sack on a couple of those and Jalen scrambled to make a play on a third down.
So, again, it’s not always as it appears right away, and I thought it was a really good practice back and forth. Again, want to limit the turnovers, though.
Q. What would you like to see out of Jalen between tonight and the start of the regular season to make you feel good about where things are? What details are you focusing in on? (Tim McManus)
NICK SIRIANNI: Just continuing to grow in the offense and being able to throw on rhythm and with some consistency with his rhythm. But also, I also understand that some part of his game is to be able to move around and make plays. But, again, a wise man avoids all extremes. It can’t be all rhythm, and it can’t be all scramble. So, it’s like, ‘Hey, what’s the happy medium there?’
It’s just, again– because right now he’s back and forth, he’s getting some good throws on rhythm, but just want to make those numbers grow a little bit because we know how valuable of a tool his legs are.
Q. Just about tonight’s atmosphere, you’re coming into Lincoln Financial Field here for the first time in front of fans, what’s your message to the team? I know it’s a big deal to a lot of rookies. I think LB Alex Singleton said earlier, the second-year guys are pretty pumped up too, and I imagine you are too first time as a head coach coming in with some fans. What’s the messaging? How does it feel? What kind of atmosphere are you looking forward to tonight? (Ed Kracz)
NICK SIRIANNI: Again, just happy to be a part of the best fan base in the NFL. I mean, I’m just really looking forward to going out there and being around the fans. But whether it’s practice in front of nobody or practice in front of 40,000 people or a game in front of 70,000 people, the way you go and approach your business has to be the same, and that’s been my messaging. It’s, ‘Hey, there’s going to be people in the crowd tonight, and last year that wasn’t a thing.’ So, just get back to – it’s going to be different, but that’s how each game presents itself.
So, again, just practice – you guys have heard me talk about this so much – practice is such a great preparation for – it’s practice. It’s such a great preparation for what you’re about to do in the game. We spend so much time on, ‘Let’s make it as hard as we can in practice so we’re ready for the game.’ So, nothing changes. I didn’t even address it, to be a hundred percent honest with you, because it’s just business as usual.
Q. We’ve heard from some players that there’s more RPOs in this offense than maybe previously, or maybe not even just Philadelphia but where they come from. I’m wondering what’s your experience with them? I know former Eagles Offensive Coordinator and current Colts Head Coach Frank Reich probably took some of that from here and brought it to there, and do you want to utilize them more because of Jalen’s ability to move the seam and be able to – the run option part of it, the pressure that he can put on defenses. (Jeff McLane)
NICK SIRIANNI: Sure, that’s a great question. Yeah, RPOs are a part of the offense and part of the puzzle to our offense, right? It’s definitely a section that I didn’t have a ton of experience with until late in that ‘17 year with the Chargers, and then a lot with these past three years here with [Colts Head Coach] Frank [Reich] and myself at the Colts. So, really just see how much it benefits your offense because you’re able to read a player instead of block a player, right?
That’s a great thing to be able to do, like ‘Hey, I don’t have to block him. What did he do? Did he take a drop? Alright, good, I’m handing it off. Did he knife it? Good, I’m pulling it and taking it and throwing the ball.’ So, a big part of it, what we do – yeah, it’s a piece of the puzzle of what we do, and we’re just continuing to grow in it.
I think we have great coaches, like [Eagles Passing Game Coordinator] Kevin Patullo was around a lot of the RPO stuff. One of the reasons why – to be honest with you – one of the reasons why we hired Kevin in Indianapolis was because his experience. Frank had just come off of the Philly teams of having a lot of experience, or having a lot of success with RPOs, and Kevin was in college the year before at Texas A&M, and he came and talked to us, and we were like, ‘Yes, we like this stuff.’ So, we brought him to Indianapolis. That’s one reason why we did that.
Another coach that we hired in Indianapolis that really helped me grow in that world was [Iowa State Offensive Coordinator] Tom Manning, who’s now the offensive coordinator at Iowa State. He was the coordinator at Iowa State. He came and worked with us for a year, and then he went back to Iowa State as the coordinator. [Jokingly] He must have had a hard time working for me. I must have been too hard on him.
Again, then [Eagles Quarterbacks Coach] Brian Johnson, right? Brian Johnson has a lot of background on this and [Eagles Tight Ends Coach] Jason Michael. So, I’m so lucky on this staff that we have Jason, who’s called plays in the NFL for Marcus Mariota, and we know how Marcus ran with the football. Brian, who’s been an offensive coordinator, Shane, Kevin’s got a lot of experience helping call games and everything like that. So, just that great offensive staff that we have right there with a lot of experience and a lot of experience with the run/pass options on that staff as well.
Q. If I could switch to defense, Alex Singleton was talking to us before about coming back from COVID and everything, and I was curious as to your thoughts like kind of where he is football-wise and everything. At the same time, LB Davion Taylor’s out, it’s week to week obviously. How much of a setback is that for him considering he’s relatively inexperienced with football? (Martin Frank)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, it was good to get Alex back out there. He’s still in that — our trainers did a good job of getting him back ready to play, so it was good to have him back out there. You felt him out there the other day at practice. I felt his experience. I felt his play making ability, and it was good to have him back out there.
Davion, sure, when you miss time, again, I hope you guys know practice is how we get better. Practice is how we prepare for the game. I’m obsessed with practice. I know how important it is. It’s just the common denominator for good teams. They know how to practice, and they know how to practice hard. So, of course, if you miss some time, you’re going to have some setbacks there.
Again, I know he’s attacking the meeting room just like he would attack the practice field, and I know that he’s got a really good coach. [Eagles Linebackers Coach] Nick Rallis is willing to do everything and anything to get his players ready to play, and that’s just been evident to me since Nick’s been on the staff. He’s a relentless worker, and Davion is a relentless worker too, and they’re meeting a heck of a lot more than what’s actually required of them.
Really pleased he’s attacking the meetings there and looking forward to when we can get him back on the field.
Q. How would you evaluate the competition at left tackle so far in camp? And even though you weren’t here when T Andre Dillard was selected in the first round, how does that factor into the decision when it comes time to make one? (Rob Maaddi)
NICK SIRIANNI: I think that’s a good battle. I think, when you have those competitions, like it brings out the best in both of them. You have a competition, and both people have to rise to the occasion. It’s making them better. Competition makes you better. That’s why it’s such a core value here, it makes you better, and I see that happening with both guys right now.
As far as draft status or anything like that, we’re in the business of winning football games, and whoever gives us the best chance to win the football game will be here. I just got done showing a [former Broncos RB] Terrell Davis clip of, I don’t remember if he was undrafted or drafted in the sixth round or seventh round or whatever it was, but just showing him making a play on special teams is one of the videos we show to the team of, ‘Hey, look at him. He was buried on the depth chart, and then he came in, and he made a play on special teams, and it opened up this window for him to become a Hall of Fame player.’
We don’t care. We don’t care. At the end of the day, I’m judged on wins and losses, and I very well know that. So, we’ve got to play the guys that are most ready to play and give us the best chance to win.
Q. As an offensive play caller who’s going up against this defense every day and evaluating this defense, what stands out to you about your personnel on that side of the ball? (Mike Kaye)
NICK SIRIANNI: Yeah, it all starts up front, right? It all starts up front both sides of the ball. I just see a very deep unit of guys that I think we’re going to be able to count on right up front. I see our linebackers, and I see young play makers really just can’t wait to see what they can do in these preseason games and what they do at practice every day because they just get better and better with reps because they’re limited in reps.
In the secondary, I think we’re getting some good — they’re contesting the ball on the secondary, right? I see the corners in the pocket of the receivers challenging us to catch passes on the offensive side of the ball and challenging the quarterbacks to put accurate balls on them. Then I just see leadership on that safety group getting guys lined up. I’m very pleased with those guys.
The whole reason why — every time you hire a coach, you want to know that he can get a player better, that’s first and foremost. Can you teach fundamentals? Can you teach fundamentals and get your players better? I see that with our defensive staff. I see our guys getting better fundamentally.
Then what you look for in a coordinator is that do you have a good scheme, and can you put your guys in position to win? That’s all that matters to me as a coach. Obviously, I want good people that have my back and have each other’s back and have the team’s back. But after that, it’s like can you coach? Can you coach fundamentals and can you put your guys in position to make plays? And I believe we have that, and that’s one of the reasons I hired [Eagles Defensive Coordinator] Jonathan Gannon.
Q. When you have a quarterback like Jalen Hurts where his legs are such a big part of what he does, how does it change the way you view practice, and how does it affect the way you might evaluate him in the offense? (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: That’s a good question, Dave. Again, it is, it’s like the wise man avoids all extremes. You can’t just say, ‘Everything has to be on rhythm,’ or, ‘Everything has to be a run.’ We’re trying to get him to play in some rhythm while still using his talents as a runner. It’s just putting him — again, it’s calling the plays and running plays that we think that he has a chance to be successful at. So right now, it’s still figuring out does he like the stuff over the middle? Does he like the stuff to the sideline? Does he like stuff over the ball? Does he like to be on the move?
Again, it’s just figuring out what those plays are and continuing to rep them.
Dave, I hope I answered your question. I kind of got going on a tangent there. Did I answer your question?
Q. Yeah, sure, but how does it affect how you evaluate him? Because obviously he can’t do everything in practice that he might be able to do in a game. (Dave Zangaro)
NICK SIRIANNI: Sure, that was my point to Coach Gannon [Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon] the other day. He’s like, ‘Come on, he was running around back there.’ I said, ‘No one was close to him, and that’s one of his major skills is his ability to run.’ When we look at a quarterback, we’re looking at his decision-making. We’re looking at his accuracy. We’re looking at his ability to create, and we’re looking at his leadership abilities, to name four things. And arm strength, we’re always looking at that and fundamentals and stuff like that. But those four things are critical.
So we know that to be a full package as a quarterback, you’ve got to have all those things, and I’m glad he has that ability to run because not everybody has that.