Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Monday afternoon, and in addition to some injury updates, he talked a bit about T.J. Edwards and why they’re happy to have him around for another year. He also talked about the importance of Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson in the run game, and how run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland helps them prepare.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On T.J. Edwards and his extension
“He’s playing really good football right now. So excited to have him locked up for next year.
As far as what we’re asking him to do, is just be around the ball, be physical to the football. When you watch T.J. [Edwards] come after the ball, he’s getting some production in the pass game, but when you watch him come and get an attempt at the tackle, he’s always punching at the ball.
You really felt that. I felt that big time. He had a hit on the sideline in the Denver game where he really came after the ball and punched at it. I remember saying over the headset, ‘Man, I would never want to get punched by that right there.’”
Sirianni went on to say that Edwards is really physical to the football, and the coaches talk a lot about strip attempts and they’re starting to see the guys put that to work. But, it’s particularly noticeable when Edwards gets after the football, and he knows that ball carriers feel that aggression and know they have to protect against it.
On the offensive line
Sirianni was asked how much Lane Johnson helps stabilize the line, and therefore create more rushing opportunities. The head coach wasn’t shy to admit that the veteran plays a huge role in their running success the past few weeks, noting that it’s Johnson, along with Jason Kelce, leading that unit.
“I know Jason sets the table for everything of what we’re going to do, where we’re going with the point, everything like that. And it’s those two guys really, really carry us.
And Jordan [Mailata] is playing good football and Lane is playing good football and Jack Driscoll is playing good football, when Nate Herbig is getting in, he’s playing good football.
But it starts with those two guys. It starts with Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce. Lane has been playing outstanding. He’s just so big and powerful. To me, he’s the best tackle that I’ve been around in my 12, 13 years in the NFL. He’s somebody that can lockdown his side in pass protection, is powerful and technically sound in the run game of fitting double-team blocks on his way to the linebacker.”
The head coach later talked a bit more about Kelce and some of the plays he made in Sunday’s win over the Saints that really stood out. He pointed out that the veteran really takes care of his body, and the way his mind works, he’s got accelerated vision and is able to predict what’s going to happen before it does.
“You get it because you have good instincts, which Jason does, and through years of experience. He just seems to know, and he sets the table for everybody. ‘Hey, we’re going here,’ or, ‘I see this and I’m going here.’”
Sirianni also talked about Kelce’s ability to process things so quickly because he’s seen so much over the years. It’s hard to throw something new at him because he can go back to experience from a decade ago to recall certain things.
“Then as far as your question about the play around the edge on Miles’ long run, I think it was like 12, 15 yards, that’s a — the block he makes I feel like I haven’t seen that block — I’m giving him very high praise because he’s a great player.
That’s a movie-style block, right? You don’t see a guy accelerate through one block and continue on to the next block, throw another block. I think I saw that — the only other time I’ve seen that, he made one of those same blocks against Atlanta and I said the same thing.
I’ve seen Jason Kelce do it against Atlanta, against the Saints yesterday, and I saw Billy Bob on Varsity Blues do it went in West Texas on that. Those are the three times I’ve seen that play happen. And so, I mean, it was incredible. It was such a good play that he made yesterday, and he just continues to get better the more he sees.”
On Jeff Stoutland and his role in the run game
Sirianni was asked specifically about how Stoutland studies and influences the run game, and he went on to explain that he heads up the research on what angles look good, and different things defenses are doing to stop the run.
“To me, Coach Stout is as advertised, and why I say that is because for the last three years in Indianapolis, Frank [Reich] has told me how good Coach Stout is, and he’s as good as advertised.
He thinks about the players, of how we got to get them in position to make their blocks, and it always starts with them first and then just goes to every little detail you could imagine from, like I said, the linebacker techniques, the D-tackle techniques, the defensive end techniques, different places, when you put the back here what does the defensive line do, when you put the back here.”
The head coach went on to say that they go through a long checklist of 15 to 20 things when they prepare their run game, and Stoutland always has an answer, and if he doesn’t he’s the first one to get it.
On the Eagles’ passing game
Sirianni acknowledged that there’s only so much they can spread the ball around, and in Sunday’s game, they only had 13 completions, with DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert accounting for nine of them. Still, he said that other guys like Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins are affecting the game in others ways, noting Reagor averaged over 10 yards per punt return.
The head coach also mentioned Watkins doing some good things blocking, while pointing out that there are definitely some things they need to clean up. But, when the offense is running the ball as effectively as they have been, it takes everybody on the field doing their job.
“There is no doubt we want to make sure those guys touch the ball too, because they’re playmakers as well. Just the way the game went, those guys are mature guys, they understand how the game went, and there is no doubt that they want to touch the ball, right, and we want them to touch the ball.
And so, we’ll see how this continues out, but there is no doubt we want them to be involved in the offense and actually touching the ball, not just blocking.”
He went on to say that it was great to see JJ Arcega-Whiteside have a really big play against the Saints. JJAW has been a guy that’s helped set the tone in the run game and to be there in some of the play-action things in different ways, whether he’s had the ball or not. Sirianni said JJAW has been really patient, and was able to make a big-time play when his number was called, and that’s what he expects from Reagor and Watkins when they’re called on.