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Nick Sirianni talks Fletcher Cox’s criticism, Eagles defensive struggles and adjustments

Plus, the head coach addresses some of the QB roster moves the team made Monday.

Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Monday evening after the team made a handful of moves — including trading Joe Flacco to the Jets, and signing QB Reid Sinnett off of waivers. Sirianni talked about the transactions, and also gave some injury updates, commented on Fletcher Cox’s post-game frustrations, and talked (again) about accountability.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:


On the QB room shuffle

Sirianni said that they feel really good with Gardner Minshew stepping into that No. 2 role at quarterback now that Joe Flacco is gone. He also talked about Reid Sinnett and said that he had a lot of good plays in the preseason this year for Miami, and they feel like they added a good prospect to the roster.

“As far as Joe [Flacco] goes, he’s just a great person to be around. Great pro to be around. Had a phenomenal preseason and was really good for our room. But the opportunity arose for him to go and be able to contribute somewhere else, and then obviously, us be able to get a pick for that. But, our time with Joe Flacco was really good. We really appreciate him and everything that he did. He’s a great pro and you can see why he won so many games when he was in Baltimore and all the other places he’s been.”

On accountability and improvement

Sirianni was asked, aside from what he’s said to the coaches and players, what can he do to send a message to the team about accountability now that they’re 2-5. The head coach said that he’s keeping the same messaging as he’s had. He noted that losing a game is never acceptable, and they’re going to go through and correct problems the same way they would whether they are 5-2 or 2-5.

“We’ve talked about accountability a lot. Accountability’s not only about making corrections, it’s also pointing out when the things are right as well. So, it goes both ways there, because you want a standard set, and when the standards met, you get excited about it. When the standards not met, you make the corrections. So, we’re just business as usual right there. Again, things can change as far as your scheme, things can change as far as different things, but what the standard is, and the accountability, is always the same.”

The follow-up to Sirianni’s answer was specifically where he thought the team was getting better, and the head coach pointed to them getting better fundamentally and knowing the scheme and system.

“When you’re 2-5 you’re going to question a lot of things. Getting better, too, is not these drastic jumps, it’s just little-by-little each day, and so we feel like we’re getting better in a lot of different areas, figuring out who we are and what we do well.”

Sirianni later talked a bit about in times of adversity, he’s going to double down on the things he knows to be true — noting that scheme can change, practice schedules can change, but the things he knows to be true, he’s going to double down on, and that’s where they are at this particular time.

On Fletcher Cox’s frustration with the defense

“Frustration is — everyone has frustration after you lose, that’s players, coaches, everybody is going to have frustration. And so, we’ll talk about everything. We’ll talk through it, as far as, because we’re going to address anything that is — you know, what we need to address as a team. But, I’ll keep those conversations private that we’ll have there, but I understand Fletch’s frustration. I’m frustrated. He’s frustrated. And we just have to do everything we can do to get the ship right.”

On the Eagles’ defensive struggles

Sirianni said that he watches the defense practice every day and is involved in the game plan, noting that defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon likes to ask him questions to get the offensive perspective on certain things. When asked if Gannon has autonomy with the defense’s game plan, Sirianni pointed out that everything that happens on the field has his name on it as the head coach, so he has the ultimate say, but he trusts Gannon.

The head coach talked a little bit about safety Marcus Epps, who he thought had a pretty good game. Obviously, they want that one play back — although, Sirianni noted that the receiver made a really good back-shoulder catch despite Epps being in the right spot.

In an interview earlier on Monday with John Clark of NBC Sports, Sirianni had mentioned that he felt like the lack of possessions for the offense contributed to them being unable to get into a rhythm — essentially saying it’s a whole team sport and the defense needed to get the offense the ball more often. When asked about those comments and he explained that the longer the offense sits on the sideline, the easier it is to get off a rhythm.

“I want to make it very clear, that when I say the defense needs to tighten up, I’m looking at myself first. With every product that’s on that field — special teams, defense, offense — has my name on it. I’m not just the offensive coordinator, I’m the head coach of this football team. And so, everything that’s out there on that football field is first my responsibility.

So, when I say the defense needs to tighten up and needs to get the ball back to the offense, I’m saying that that’s my responsibility. That’s my responsibility to say, ‘Hey, on this one, I want to tighten up and play man coverage on this one’. So, in no way, in no shape, no form, was I putting blame on the defense or Jonathan Gannon at all. I have utmost faith in Jonathan Gannon. I have utmost faith in our defense. I’m putting that responsibility on me and nobody else.”

The head coach then talked a bit about why opposing quarterbacks have been able to complete passes at almost an unprecedented rate against the Eagles. He noted that Gannon switched up some coverages on Sunday against the Raiders, but it didn’t obviously work with Derek Carr finishing 31-of-34. Sirianni said that he and Gannon spoke about finding different ways to be aggressive on the perimeter to get their hands on the ball and get in the throwing lanes, and also playing a bit more man-to-man.

Injury updates

  • Sirianni said Miles Sanders is still week-to-week. They think it’s unlikely he plays on Sunday, but that still is a possibility. In addition to Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott, they have running back Jordan Howard on the practice squad if they need him.
  • Safety K’Von Wallace is still working himself back, but he’ll be even more involved this week and they’ll see where he is later in the week. Same with Anthony Harris being day-to-day, he’s still working his way back from both thumbs being injured and his groin, so they’ll have to see where he is later in the week, as well.