The players were given the day off on Monday, but Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni took some time to talk to reporters about some of the takeaways from their Week 10 win over the Broncos. He spoke about Dallas Goedert’s head injury, and why he isn’t calling out Justin Simmons for the hit, as well as the performances and development of young guys like Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith, and Landon Dickerson.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On Dallas Goedert’s head injury
Sirianni confirmed that the tight end is in the concussion protocol after taking a huge hit to the head by Broncos’ Justin Simmons. The head coach went on to say that those kinds of hits happen all the time and he’s not there to question Simmons’ intention or integrity.
“I’m not going to question the integrity of the player. I have a lot of respect for Justin Simmons. He’s a really, really good football player, phenomenal tackler. And he showed a lot of good open field tackles yesterday. And I think he’s a first-class player and person, as well, of what I know of him. So, I’m not going to ever question that.”
Despite not questioning Simmons intentions, Sirianni did note that they have a list of questions they submit each week to better understand some of the officiating, and the hit on Goedert will be included since there was no flag for an illegal hit on the play.
On the run game and RB group
The head coach talked a bit about them always doing what they think will best help them win football games, and that includes looking at things they are doing well, as well as their opponent’s scheme and players. Sirianni said they’ve always known that they have a good offensive line, and they always wanted to get the run game going to help Jalen Hurts and take some pressure off of him.
“But I don’t know if there was a shift or more so just the sense it got going early in those games — a couple of those games starting with Las Vegas, that kind of got going early in that game. We obviously got ourselves in a position where we got down there, so maybe you can say that shift happened in Las Vegas.
But that has always been our emphasis, to run the ball.”
Sirianni went on to say that it was the culmination of the entire year, and they felt like they had been running the ball well throughout the season, but they wanted to run it more — and he knows people thought they should be running it more.
In the past Sirianni has spoken about riding the hot hand, particularly at running back, and keeping players fresh, and he talked a bit on Monday about how RB coach/assistant head coach Jemal Singleton is largely in control of what the rotation and snap counts look like at the position. Some of the personnel is dictated by the call sheet and who they want on the field in certain packages, so the rotation is figured out a little bit during the week and a little bit during the flow of the game.
“They both had 80 yards or 80-plus yards yesterday. And so, it was good to keep them fresh and keep going. They were running the ball well. Both made a lot of really good runs. Really, what I continue to see this football team do, and it starts with these running backs, is protect the football.”
He went on to point out a couple plays from Sunday’s win over the Broncos that could have gone the other way if they weren’t paying attention — Jalen Hurts got hit but Jason Kelce was there to fall on the ball, or when DeVonta Smith came across the middle of the field in traffic and put two hands on the ball. Sirianni also noted that Boston Scott
“And you saw Boston [Scott] do that two times in the game yesterday where he was trying to go right, so he had to put it in his right arm, he had to cut back left, he got out of traffic, put it in his left arm and he was able to use the stiff arm.
And then you saw Jordan Howard, a lot of times in this game when you’re going to the ground as a ball carrier, your natural tendency, if you guys would all stand there and start to go to the ground, your natural tendency would be to put your arms out. There were a couple times when we were kind of milking the clock and running the clock out where Jordan Howard was on his way to the ground, but he kept that same ball security that he needed.”
On Jalen Hurts as a franchise QB
As for anyone who might have already concluded Hurts can’t be a franchise quarterback, Sirianni would ask them to watch the last three games. He also noted that Hurts has now started in 14 NFL games, and this year’s group of rookie QBs is at nine or 10, so he’s still in his rookie season essentially.
“All I see is improvement every day from him because, again, it starts with the type of person that Jalen is and how much he loves this sport and how much he loves his teammates and how tough he is. And he doesn’t make the same mistake twice.
I just see his arrow completely pointed up. I think we’ve all seen the way he’s played. The way he played yesterday, again, when we got into the second half, we kind of took the air out of it a little bit and we played a little bit different the way our defense was playing and the lead that we had.
But if you look at that first half, the way he played, he was doing some things yesterday that were really special. The play he made to Dallas Goedert is a big-time football play and I think if you look back and you look maybe five weeks ago, I think that he probably tucks that and runs and maybe gets 10, right? And yesterday he stepped up in the pocket, he stepped up with two hands on the football – I mean, and look how good he’s done taking care of the football just as far as interceptions and fumbles, right?”
The head coach went on to point out that Hurts continues to make strides, over and over and over again. He talked after the game on Sunday about how Hurts did a nice job checking out of a play a couple times in a row to move the ball and eventually get the ball to DeVonta Smith for a touchdown.
On DeVonta Smith’s ability and potential
“Forget any physical tools. He’s a smart player and he’s tough. You just see that over and over. And, again, I think I’ve mentioned that before, smart and tough guys, let’s get a lot of those guys, right? Because you can’t get on the bus without those guys.
So, it starts there, just his mental makeup of who he is. He’s mentally tough, physically tough. So, it starts with that mental makeup of DeVonta. And then you add in the skill, right? Because there are a lot of tough people out there; mentally, physically, but then they don’t have the skill to play in this game. He’s got a ton of skill.
Where I see it is — you know, I think he catches — he’s just got really solid hands, really good hands. I know he’s had a couple drops, I don’t know exactly how many he has. I don’t think it’s a lot. But, he’s got really solid hands that’s going to be able to make tough catches. And he’s just really good — he knows how to attack defenders at a very young age.
Like, he’s seeing different looks of how he needs to attack defenders. And then he’s really good in and out of the break.”
On Landon Dickerson’s development
Sirianni thought the rookie had a really good game yesterday, and when they team gets back to work, he’ll be getting a game ball along with the rest of the offensive line.
“I think he’s just getting more and more comfortable with the different looks that he’s getting from the defense and the different movements and the speed of the game and the strength of the game. He did a couple nice things, there was our last run of the day yesterday when we were in that four-minute – we had to get another first down to end the game. We couldn’t take a knee because there was, like, 2:35 left. We saw him pull around the edge – we’ve seen him dominate inside and be able to move. But then yesterday, on that play, he was able to pull and was able to get out in the space and show athleticism out in space, too.”
The head coach gave a lot of credit to Dickerson, but also mentioned that playing next to a veteran like Jason Kelce, who has seen everything in this league, is a huge help. Sirianni was also quick to point out that Kelce and Lane Johnson both played really well and had the rest of the offensive line playing well, too.
- Sirianni was asked how he kept guys believing in his process, even early on and during the tough moments, and he pointed to his core values and beliefs. For example, the teams that connect and are cohesive, do well and find themselves through the tough times, as well as teams that compete hard, have accountability and fundamentals, and have football IQ. The messaging isn’t off the wall and what their core values are things players know lead to good teams.
“I think the player’s side of it is we just got good guys on this football team. We got good leaders on this football team, high football character guys, we got high character individuals, away from the game.”
- The head coach also talked about LB Davion Taylor and how his talent, athleticism, and speed help make up for some of his inexperience. He admitted that there are going to be some growing pains for a young player at the linebacker position, but his skills do offset that a bit.
“He’ll grow more and more and more each week through the reps that he’s getting. As long as he’s willing to put in the work and he’s definitely one of those guys that is, another high character guy that works hard, that loves football, that’s tough, that’s willing to put in the work to get better every single day.”