Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Monday afternoon and talked a bit about what the defense can do to keep QBs from getting the ball out too quickly and from completing so many passes. He also commented on Derek Barnett’s costly penalty on third down, Jordan Howard’s contributions the past two weeks, and why their current offensive formula isn’t conducive to some WRs getting as many targets.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On the Eagles’ defense
Sirianni was asked, from an offensive perspective, what a defense could do to make completing passes more difficult. He mentioned giving a disguise and throwing off timing, which can come from getting a little bit of pressure, disguising the coverage, reroutes and press coverage, as well.
“So, whether they’re rerouting in a cover two scheme or rerouting and getting up in the face in man to man, those are all ways you can accomplish those different things.”
After Sunday’s loss Javon Hargrave mentioned Justin Herbert was getting the ball out quickly, negating the pass rush — something Fletcher Cox mentioned after the Raiders game as well — and the head coach was asked what they can do to combat that as a defense.
“First thing first is we watched the tape – we all have to be on the same page. That starts with us coaching it. ‘Hey, if they do this motion, if they line up in this formation, if they’re in this bunch, if they’re in this stack, we need to be in this.’
So, if not, defense is quite unique in the sense that if one guy doesn’t do his job or one guy is off on a different page, then the whole thing can look messed up. But that’s us coaching it better first to get the guys doing that.
So, we had a couple pre- and post-snap mental errors that gave them some freebies.”
Sirianni went on to explain that it comes down to getting the quarterback to hold on to the ball a little longer, requiring some disruption from the secondary. He acknowledged that when the QB is getting the ball out in two seconds, the pass rush isn’t going to be able to get there in time, so the secondary needs to do some different things to deter things from getting out too quickly.
On Derek Barnett’s costly penalty
When Barnett drew the neutral zone infraction, there was some obvious disappointment from Fletcher Cox and Josh Sweat on the field, but Sirianni acknowledged that things can get emotional during a game and he understands how that could be their natural reaction.
“As far as Derek goes, he’s had two of those big ones in third-down scenarios, but I do believe, just like the rest of the team, we’re trending in the right way with our penalty situation. So, Derek is a defensive lineman, and it’s like a — I don’t want to say it’s exactly like this, but it does have the elements of a tight end who drops a pass. It does happen. It can’t happen in that situation, but it does happen. But I believe Derek is trending in the right direction and he had a back fall yesterday.
So, again, I can’t speak to — I just have to look at the element of work that I’m dealing with that I’ve been here for. I can’t speak to anything that’s happened in the past. It’s this 2021 season, and Derek had a penalty yesterday that he’s going to want back. Jalen [Hurts] missed a throw that he’s going to want back. DeVonta [Smith] missed a route that’s he’s going to want back.
That’s the nature of the game. I got a lot of confidence in Derek. Derek made some nice plays. Derek is a guy that plays extremely hard and extremely tough. He made some nice plays in that game. We were going over our couple good and our couple bad from the defense; Derek was on both of the couple good plays, so he did some good things in that game.”
On Jordan Howard’s contributions
Sirianni talked a bit about the running back’s role, especially since he’s had two really good games. He pointed out that he doesn’t really have to think about what the offense will or might look like once Miles Sanders is back just yet, and he’s in a short-term mindset right now.
“Miles isn’t back yet, so I don’t have to think about it. I got a lot of other things I got think through, right, and solve and problem solve.
It’s one thing I have the – unfortunately or fortunately, however you look at it – that I don’t have to think about right now. Is he playing good football? Absolutely. Are we happy he’s on the roster? Absolutely. We’re getting a spark offensively from Jordan Howard.
And so, he’s done a great job of carrying the football and being aggressive with the football, and offensive line has done a good job opening up holes for him.
So, yeah, we look forward to continuing that with him, especially for this game against Denver.”
On roster development
While Sirianni’s message is for each player and coach to get one percent better everyday, the head coach also mentioned that he does look at the bigger picture of the football team and the players that make it up. He said that he and Howie Roseman are always talking about who is playing well, who is not, and those things, but also emphasized that he thinks they have the players in the locker room right now to win games.
“We have to play better. We have to coach better to be able to do that. But I think you’ve seen us in a spot where when we’re playing consistent, we can play pretty well. But it’s the consistency is not there right yet, consistently.
That’s my job as a head coach to get it there, but I do believe we have everybody in this building we need to win this division and to win football games, to be able to move on. Again, I don’t want to sit here and say anything about – to win this game right here, we only think about this one game right here.
So, I believe we have good pieces on this team and I’m excited to work with all the pieces on this team. But as far as the discussion of players and what we’re looking for, we have a constant communication with that.”
On the WR group
Sirianni was asked about his level of concern that the wide receivers, other than DeVonta Smith, haven’t really been as big a part of the game plan as they were earlier in the season. He discussed how they are playing a certain way right now, running the football and play-action passing, so they want to get Dallas Goedert and Smith going. The head coach admitted they want to get Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor involved, noting that there are a lot of mouths to feed.
“But when we’re doing it the way we’re doing it now and having some success on offense doing it that way, something has to sacrifice there. We’re always thinking about how to get the ball to DeVonta and Dallas and Quez and Jalen, and sometimes their touches come and sometimes they don’t.
I do know in this league you have to be able to spread it around, right, so they can’t just take away one guy and take away your passing game.
So, yeah, we always are thinking about how we’re getting those guys the football. Just the last couple weeks it hasn’t gone that way. I know that can be frustrating, but we got to do what we think we can do to win the football game offensively, and sometimes that’s going to sacrifice some of the touches on the perimeter.”
He went on to say that they can definitely manufacture things to get guys touches, but there is only one football and they only have so many plays in a game. Sirianni said that the formula they’ve found the past two weeks with the run game and play-action has been working, but it’s going to take away some of the touches for other guys. However, he did point out that things have a way of evening out, because they’re not going to be able to do it this way every time and are going to have to look elsewhere once defense’s take away options.