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Nick Sirianni talks Jalen Hurts’ improvement, DeVonta Smith’s ability, Darius Slay’s TD

The Eagles head coach was in good spirits after their road win over the Broncos.

Eagles got another road win against Denver in Week 10, and head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters before catching a flight home about the performances of Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith, and how they’ll have some tough decisions with the RB group and Miles Sanders return. He also broke down Darius Slay’s defensive touchdown, and explained his city fumble vs. country fumble rule.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

On Jalen Hurts’ performance

The QB was much more accurate from the pocket on Sunday, and Sirianni attributed that improvement to Hurts.

“He just gets better everyday. He truly exemplifies the getting one percent better everyday. Getting a little bit better everyday, and he just continues to get better. So, he just did some really good things in that game. And, right before that double move he made to DeVonta [Smith], he made a couple really good checks and the third down and — I don’t what was it? 12 or 13? That’s a big time play and we needed that at that time.

We were talking on the sideline like, ‘Hey, we’re up three to nothing, defense just got a stop, let’s get up 10 on somebody,’ right? And, I know that’s always the goal, right? But, he really got us out of a hole. You want the call back to [Jalen] Reagor — they played it different, a little different than what we thought, and he got us out of the hole, and that’s what good quarterbacks do. He did a really good job today.”

Later, Sirianni was asked about the checks mentioned, and he said that Denver did a good job of disguising some things but Hurts was able to identify it or hear the calls and on the first call, Jordan Howard got six yards, and then they got the first down on the second one, and then at that point they figured they’d just call it again because Hurts would either be able to make the play to Smith or get them out of the situation if needed.

On DeVonta Smith’s performance

Sirianni quipped that it was a good birthday for Smith with two touchdowns against Denver, and that the WR would likely get one of the game balls.

It was pointed out that typically when a QB puts a receiver in a position to make a contested catch, it’s a guy with size, like a DK Metcalf, but Sirianni explained what makes Smith so capable of making those kinds of catches.

“He’s just a good football player.”

The head coach pointed out that growing up in a coach’s house, that’s the ultimate compliment for a player, and it’s true of Smith.

“He’s longer than you think, too, right? I mean, I know what his height is, but he’s got long arms and he’s just a good football player. He just went up and got it. And, you know, he’s had a lot of reps against Patrick Surtain — Patrick Surtain’s a really good football player, he’s going to be a good player in this league for a long time. But, Jalen [Hurts] gave him an opportunity to make a play, put it on the right spot, and he just went up and made a play. And he ran some really good routes today, too, just on some under routes and some things like that. So, he showed it both ways today and Jalen was able to get him the ball.”

On the RB group

“I can’t say enough about how Jordan Howard, Boston Scott, and Kenny Gainwell have stepped in, in the absence of Miles Sanders. We know how good of a player Miles Sanders is, really look forward to getting him back, but, man, they’ve been running hard, they’re hard to tackle, they’re hard to get down. It was great to see Boston get to a screen and throw him the ball out there on a screen that almost went for a touchdown against their blitz zero. So, gosh, they’ve just done a really nice job filling in, and we are going to have some tough decisions — it’s a good problem to have, and we’ll do whatever we think is necessary to win the next game.”

On the Eagles’ defensive TD

He joked that he’s still out of breath from running down the sideline on the defensive touchdown by Darius Slay — quipping that the altitude is no joke, but the players handled it well thanks to the training staff.

“That was fun. That was my vantage point of that, was like, hey, we talked about getting the ball out, Davion [Taylor] did a really good job of getting that thing out. Melvin Gordon is a really good back, it’s tough to get it from him, but they got it out and Slay — man, Slay did some good things with that ball in his hands. I think there was a couple people on the headset like, ‘Just go down,’ and I’m like ‘Woah, woah, woah, no, no don’t go down.’ He did a really good job of just making a play.

The defense — what I really appreciate is like, the defense had some penalties that we’re going to have to address, you know, with some pre-snap penalties, but they did a phenomenal job of being legal blocks. Like, you see sometimes on those long returns like that, some illegal blocks, but they did a good job of keeping things legal and letting Slay go do some work.

Thinking about getting Slay some work on offense going forward.”

He was later asked about whether they have a plan in place for who is supposed to take the ball in a defensive situation like that — like if one of the big guys up front were to have scooped up the ball —, and Sirianni explained that they have a city fumble rule and country fumble rule.

“City fumble is if there’s a lot of bodies around, get on it. If it’s a country fumble and there’s not a lot of bodies around — if you’re in, help me out here, West Chester, then you can scoop and score. If you’re in downtown Philly, you gotta get on the ball.”

Other notables

  • Sirianni was asked if he’s found the offense’s identity, and he admitted that he’s not sure you’re ever there completely because there are always things you need to adjust, but to be able to run the ball for over 200 yards against a defense of the Broncos caliber, is a testament to the guys in the locker room, particularly the guys up front. The head coach said that the offensive line will get a game ball for their performance on Sunday.
  • As for the defense being able to be more aggressive on Sunday, Sirianni said it always starts up front, but they did a nice job in coverage as well, to get the quarterback to hold onto the ball a bit longer and let the defensive line get after the ball. He also noted that the linebackers were playing very physical and they could feel that on the sideline.

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