The Eagles had to wait an extra two days to play Washington in Week 15, and despite a slow start were able to play really strong second-half football and come away with a home win. Head coach Nick Sirianni spoke after the game and talked a bit about the extra time they had heading into the matchup, what he thought of Jalen Hurts’ performance, and why the run game was so successful.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On the two-day postponement
Sirianni said that his message to the team was just to control what they can control. Admittedly, he noted that their practices on Wednesday and Friday last week weren’t up to their standards, so the head coach was glad they had some extra time to clean things up. He also communicated with the team that if they spend all their time being upset about things they can’t control — like the delay — it’ll just end up being a distraction.
On the slow start
“You never want to start like that, it was rusty.”
Sirianni gave Washington credit for being in the right place at the right time with the turnovers early on, but really also lauded his team for keeping their dog mentality and fighting their way back to tie things up heading in to half, and then to go on and win.
“As disappointing as the slow start was, you saw a lot of guys contribute today, and that was just a great team win. You saw Jalen Reagor contribute in a big way today and I was really excited about that because he works his tail off at practice, he’s got a lot of talent. So, I was just happy for him to make some big plays. Tarron Jackson on defense. You just saw a full team win of guys making plays. So, it started off rusty, but they bounced back because that’s the type of team we have: resilient, dog mentality, next-play mentality.”
On Jalen Hurts and his performance
After Hurts’ second turnover, Sirianni was seen having words with the QB on the sideline. The head coach said that Hurts grew up around tough coaches, including his father, and he responds to tough coaching. Sirianni had no hesitation to share what he told Hurts, explaining that he thought the quarterback was careless with the football.
He was quick to defend Hurts, however, and credit him with being able to stay focused, move on from the turnovers, and lead the offense back into the game.
“He played a great football game today. One of the best football games I’ve seen him play.”
Sirianni went on to say that when you have a good relationship with your quarterback, you can have tough conversations like that, and obviously Hurts responded well because he played a phenomenal game after that.
As for their game planning with Hurts coming back from an ankle injury, Sirianni didn’t want to go into detail for competitive advantage purposes, but did admit that they did some things differently to help the QB and avoid aggravating his injury.
“The ball was going where it was supposed to go, when he needed to run, he ran, the ball was accurate.”
Sirianni noted that his college coach taught him that a slight drizzle is actually great weather to pass. He explained that the defensive line rush slows down because the field is a little wet, plus the skill players know when they’re breaking, so the fact that Hurts handled the wet ball well was impressive, and the QB did an unbelievable job in weather that required it.
On the success of their run game
“It takes everybody, it does. It always starts with the offensive line, and we got some gritty guys up front. I don’t want to single anybody out — all of them. I mean they all played — what a great job by Sua Opeta to step in and play a great game, too. To be able to run the ball like we did, protect like we did against, like I said, against really a good defense that I have a ton of respect for, with some good front guys.
And so, it starts there, our backs, we have a good staple of backs. We got our receivers blocking the perimeter. Dallas Goedert is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL — not to mention what he did catching the football. I think Jack Stoll is really coming along, and Jalen [Hurts] just gives you another element to the run game that’s hard to stop.”
- Sirianni noted that his message to the team was that good teams win in December, but he’s been consistent that they just have to take care of business one week at a time. But, still, he wants the players to enjoy this because it was a good, complementary win with all three phases playing a good game.
- The head coach was asked about them going tempo on offense, and he explained that they’ve had some success doing so in the past so they were looking to utilize that a little more. He also credited Jalen Hurts and Jason Kelce and their ability to communicate and get everyone on the same page in those situations.
- As for the schedule this week, the players will get in on Wednesday for a lift, but Sirianni said it’s important for them to get a mental break from the coaches — and it’ll give the coaches a day to prepare for the Giants. They’ll be back together on Thursday, and then as far as Christmas being Saturday, he acknowledged they still have work to do, but his priorities in life are God, family, and then football, so they’ll start a little later so everyone can spend time with their families on Christmas morning. They are still talking through whether things will be virtual this week.