Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Friday afternoon after having had a chance to evaluate some of the film from Thursday night’s loss, and he admitted that they aren’t going to change their game-planning and play-calling processes, despite their struggles. He also talked about the offense’s performance against the Buccaneers, their offensive identity, and a bit about Zach Ertz and what he’s meant to the team.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On game-planning and play-calling
Sirianni confirmed that they have no plans to change up how they’ve been doing things. They feel they have a good process of how they go through those things, and he has guys on staff with play-calling experience that have been helping him throughout games. He said they have a lot of confidence in their process, they just have to execute and do better.
“[In terms of] self-scouting, each week, even on a normal week, we look at our self-scout, and we’re constantly trying to think, particularly more so than anything, our run-pass ratio within different looks. Now, we’ve been heavy pass, as we all know, but we always want to get that closer to at least 75 percent. Never be above 75 percent in anything because we know that’s where defenses really look at that and make plans off of that.
So, we’re looking at our self-scout. We have more time, obviously, this week to be able to not only go into the run-pass ratio of things, but also into marrying some plays together and also go into just what you do well as a team and what your identity is as a team and who you are as a team and what you’ve succeeded in as a team.”
On the offense’s performance vs. Tampa Bay
Sirianni said that the lack of execution on 1st and 2nd downs stood out because those were drive killers in the first half. He emphasized — as he always does — that it falls back on the coaches for not putting players in the best positions to succeed. The head coach went on to say that it was a combination of the poor execution and play-calling that prevented them from sustaining drives early on, and then again, like against Carolina, they started to find a rhythm mid-way through the third quarter.
“The first drive was, obviously, really good. You go down and get points. And then there was just this lull, and we were just not good enough – we were just not good enough on 1st and 2nd down.
Then just, obviously, being 3-of-10 on 3rd down, that’s nowhere near acceptable in our standards. Then you had an opportunity at the end of the first half to at least go down 21-10, and we had two opportunities. Defense did a good job of getting us the ball back and we had the one two-minute and then we punted it back to them. We got a stop, got an interception and then we had the other two-minute and we didn’t come away with points. That’s kind of where, in the Carolina game, you went down and you got points at the end of the half, and it really gave you some momentum going into the second half, and we just didn’t execute there in that two-minute for different reasons.”
He said that when you play the way they did on Thursday it’s never just one person, they all have to accept responsibility and take accountability for how things went down.
Sirianni was asked how much of his offensive scheme is based on his philosophy versus who he has at quarterback. He admitted that it’s a combination of both, because the zone read, for example, wasn’t something they did much of last year in Indianapolis, but they didn’t have the type of quarterback they do in Jalen Hurts. As he’s said before, the head coach talked about avoiding all extremes, so it’s not all this is the scheme end of story, or let’s build an offense entirely around the skillset of the quarterback.
On the Eagles’ offensive identity
“Again, when you’ve struggled the way we’ve struggled the last two weeks, it’s like – that’s the question you ask yourself every time, what is our identity, what do we need to do? Those are conversations that we’re obviously having as an offensive staff.
Now, it’s not like when you first got here, we’re like, ‘Okay, here’s where we are, let’s figure out what we can do.’ We have strong convictions and strong feels of what we think it is. Now, do we know 100 percent what our identity is? No. I don’t actually think anybody in the NFL knows 100 percent what their identity is right now in game 6. I think you’re still building – even the teams that have been together for a long time, I don’t think – pieces change year in and year out. That’s probably a little less, but again, you’re growing every day and you’re building every day to find out exactly who you are.
Do we know a heck of a lot more than what we knew week one? Of course. Do we know a heck of a lot more than what we knew week four? Of course. We are getting to those things. We didn’t play well the last two weeks, so I know how it can look. I get it, guys. It could look like, ‘Hey, they don’t know what their identity is.’ We are growing, we are finding it out more and more each week, and obviously we’re accelerating that as much as we possibly can to put our guys in the best position we possibly can put them in.”
On Zach Ertz and the TE room without him
Sirianni talked a bit about trading Zach Ertz and his message to the TE about how he was grateful to be around him as a player, person, and leader.
“I was grateful to be around him. We shared a moment after the game yesterday and Zach was emotional. I was able to go talk to him after that and just let him know what I thought about him as a person and as a player because I’ve got so much respect for Zach Ertz and everything that he’s done.
He’s a tremendous worker. He’s out there working all the time on his game, so no surprise he’s had the success he’s had, and he leads by example out there. I’ve just enjoyed getting to know Zach Ertz, the person.”
The head coach went on to say that he was glad that Ertz got that touchdown on Thursday night, but it wasn’t something they went out of their way to ensure happened, it was just the play that came up.
As for what it’s like losing that kind of leader in the locker room mid-season, Sirianni noted that it gives other guys opportunities to step up into that role, and he thinks there are a lot of guys who work hard and know how to lead still on the team. He also pointed out that losing Ertz doesn’t mean they lose everything he’s done and taught along the way, and he’s leaving a legacy of how he worked and how he led for other guys to follow.
Sirianni also talked a bit about how he and Ertz were able to connect, especially in a weird offseason for the tight end who at times was disgruntled with the organization. The head coach noted that Ertz was always a professional and they were able to bond early on.
“Zach and I started to get close just with our love for wide receiver/tight end route running, how to run routes. So, that was an instant connection. I’ve talked about that before in the past, like yes, core value number one is connecting and that’s so important and it’s why it’s the number one goal, but you always start that connection as a coach-player because the player believes in you that you can get him better as a football player because you know what you’re talking about as a football coach. We shared that similar passion and that similar love for the game. That’s where we were able to see that we could help each other, and that’s where our relationship was able to grow.”
With Ertz gone, Sirianni acknowledged that a lot of the tight end load will rest on Dallas Goedert’s shoulders — a load that was being split between the two through six weeks. Now, they expect Goedert’s role to increase and they have confidence in the depth behind him with Jack Stoll, Noah Togiai and Tyree Jackson. Sirianni later mentioned that there is no timetable for Jackson’s return to practice, but they look forward to when he’s able to get back out there.