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Nick Sirianni compares DeVonta Smith’s first-step jab to Allen Iverson’s crossover

Plus, the Eagles head coach talks Fletcher Cox, the offensive line, and what he expects from Carolina’s defense.

Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Friday afternoon, and talked about the similarities between DeVonta Smith’s jab and Allen Iverson’s crossover. He also talked a bit about balancing Fletcher Cox’s comfort and production with Jonathan Gannon’s plan for the defense, and what he’s seen from the Panthers’ defense heading into Sunday’s game.

Sirianni showed up in yet another new Philly shirt and he joked that he’s been getting so much gear from fans this season, and he absolutely loves it.

Here’s what else the head coach had to say:

On DeVonta Smith’s jab

“I always consider the jab at the first point, at the line of scrimmage. I think this will resonate with Philadelphia fans, that anytime I teach a wide receiver how to release off the line of scrimmage, I have an Allen Iverson clip ready to go. Because it’s very much like a crossover.

So, why was — man, it’s like why is he talking about basketball? So, why was Allen Iverson good at the crossover? One thing, and you hear him say this all the time, is that he’s fast, he’s quick, so people had to react to his first step. And so, when he took that hard jab one way, they had to react to it because he was quick, and then he was able to go back the other way. And that’s really what receiver is. Because DeVonta’s fast, and because he’s quick and he has a quick, fast first release, first step, they have to react to when he jabs.

And then, the other thing on top of that is he’s making it a meaningful jab.”

Sirianni went on to explain that some receivers just put their foot in the ground, but Smith uses his whole body and head to really emphasize the motion and then he’s able to make the cross-over, so to say, effectively. He noted that it’s exciting that Smith’s technique is so good with that first step, because it’s not something guys typically have to do a lot of in college.

Later, the head coach was asked which Allen Iverson clip he uses to emphasize his point, but he pointed to an entire special about the 76ers legend. Sirianni said that he grew up a huge Iverson fan going back to the basketball players’ college days. But, the special has Iverson explaining how he does the crossover, and while there’s a few highlights included, the most notable is him pulling the move on Michael Jordan.

On the Eagles’ defense

Fletcher Cox said earlier in the week that he’s having a hard time settling in while juggling two different positions, and this was after DC Jonathan Gannon mentioned that they don’t have a specific scheme and keep things fluid.

Sirianni noted that he’s in constant communication with everyone on the team, and he acknowledged it’s their job as coaches to put Cox in positions to make plays because he’s one of their better players. The head coach mentioned that he’s spoken to Gannon about that, but there will also be times that it’s Cox’s job to eat up double teams, and when he’s called on to do that, they expect him to do it well — which Sirianni said Cox has been doing a great job of because it’s been freeing up Javon Hargrave.

When asked about the difference in veterans being asked to move around compared to younger players, Sirianni said that it’s important for them as coaches to have a strong why when making decisions. The head coach went on to explain that when he was younger, the conversation was, “Why?” “Because I said so”, and he doesn’t think that’s the most effective way to coach or to get guys on board.

On the offensive line

Sirianni said that Jordan Mailata will be up on Sunday, and he’s seen a guy ready to play at practice throughout the week. The head coach is excited that the large lineman will be back this week and said it’s a tribute to the work Mailata and the medical team have done to get him ready to play. They are happy to have gotten such a quick turnaround on an injury that could’ve kept Mailata out longer.

He confirmed that Lane Johnson will be out against the Panthers, and wouldn’t share who would be lining up at right (or left) tackle, citing the competitive advantage of leaving that unknown.

On Carolina’s defense

Sirianni was quick to note the speed of the Panthers’ defense.

“Fast. They can run around and make plays. They’re fast off the edge, they got speed at each level, they’re well-coached. I think you always look at it like, ‘Does this team play hard?’ Yeah. ‘Is this team in the right positions and playing with good fundamentals?’ Yeah. So, you know they’re well-coached, so that’s a tribute to their coaches over there in Carolina. But the main thing that sticks out is they got speed.”

Other notables

  • Not just about Lane Johnson’s “personal matter” but Sirianni was asked about his coaching philosophy and where he draws the line between his personal and professional relationship with players. The head coach noted that their first principle is to connect, and that means that players need to know that they can come to him anytime about anything, so to him, that line doesn’t exist. They are here for players through good and bad.
  • He agreed that there were some similarities in the skill sets of Christian McCaffery and Kenny Gainwell, pointing to their strength and ability to catch the football. Sirianni emphasized though that he doesn’t want to compare the two, because they’re both good players, but one has a lot more experience than the other.
  • Sirianni was asked about his philosophy regarding practice squad development, and he acknowledged that asking guys to practice like they’re going to play while simultaneously running their opponents plays is hard. But, ultimately, practice is what makes guys better, and regardless of where they are practicing, they are still getting reps. He also noted that every practice they have a 5-play period that is solely developmental, and they also do individual work on game days with the practice squad players.

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