Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Wednesday and talked a bit about their expectations for the running back room and the injuries to Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard. He also talked about the improvements the defense has made this season, adjustments they’ve made to accommodate the new COVID protocols, and their process for repping difficult catches with the skill players.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On the run game
Sirianni emphatically stated that they will not be putting Miles Sanders on IR at any point between now and the end of the season, so they are hopeful that he’s able to come back after having surgery on his hand earlier in the week.
“You know actually, I had a running back a couple years ago, Marlon Mack, he broke his hand and was back. Again, I don’t remember how much time it was, but it was the same type of thing. He broke his hand and was back a little bit later in the year. So, no timetable there.”
As for Jordan Howard, the head coach noted he’s working like crazy to get back, and while the RB had a similar stinger two years ago, this one is separate and aren’t worried it’ll keep him out for the same extended time.
He was also asked about bringing Kerryon Johnson back to the practice squad, and Sirianni said that it didn’t have implications on their thoughts about Howard coming back, but Johnson knows the offense, was really good on third down in protections and out of the backfield, and ran the ball well on first and second down in different schemes.
“We have confidence in him. That’s why we brought him back. That’s always a good story for guys, for us to be able to tell next year, right, in training camp. Like not everybody might make this team, but there is a chance that you’re back, and this is an example of that. That’s something we said to Kerryon when he left, and look where we are now. He’s back and looking to help us win this game on Sunday.”
On the Eagles’ defense
“We put our head down and work and try to get a little bit better each week. And I think what you’re seeing is that development of the defense, of, hey, they’ve gotten – we’re better, right? There is no secret. We’re better now than we were a month ago because of the way our guys work and our philosophy of, hey, how do I leave this place a little bit better than I was yesterday?
And so, that’s a product of that as well. That’s what we believe is the main product of, hey, we just put our head down, work, and try to get better every day. That’s why we’re on an uphill trajectory of how we are playing right now.”
On the new league COVID protocols
Sirianni talked about how they’ve made even more adjustments over the past couple days, including separating the quarterbacks, and having the QB meetings virtually despite all being in the same building — he explained that the three QBs were in different rooms, and the three coaches all called in from their offices.
“That’s the one meeting – and specialists, we made them all virtual, as well. Those are the meetings we went all virtual for. The rest of the guys are in person. There is going to be some things we do, as far as getting young guys ready to play that is a little unique and different. I’m not going to share that here right now for competitive advantages, but we’re doing some things to make sure if a guy gets sprung into action late, that he’s going to be ready to go even more so than what he would have in the past.”
The head coach also lauded the organization as a whole for being able to handle all these changes so seamlessly, and acknowledged how hard everyone works behind the scenes to get everything done.
On repping difficult catches
Sirianni was asked about the process of repping things in practice, like DeVonta Smith’s tow taps, and he explained that they do five different catches every practice, including difficult and unusual catches they might have to make. And while some things like dragging your feet might come up during team periods, it won’t always, so they try and simulate those as much as they can.
“You have the sideline drag, you have traffic catches that you try to get. Again, you have low balls, high balls, behind balls, over the shoulder, over the shoulder where you turn your shoulder and catch it over the other side.”
He went on to talk about how one time with the Chargers, they were playing the Cowboys and he saw Dez Bryant warming up pre-game and he had a towel around his arm that someone would yank on as he was making a catch. That’s now something they rep in practice, too. It’s a list of oddities that keeps growing over the years, and they jsut try to put their players in different positions to be ready for anything.
“You got to be — and credit to all the position coaches, because you got to sit there and you just got to pepper balls at them all the time over and over and over again. So that’s where that came from, and just to put them in that position that they might not be able to get in otherwise before Sunday.”
- Sirianni didn’t think teams were playing differently the past couple weeks with them having changed things to accommodate Jalen Hurts’ healing ankle. He talked about teams still having to account for him taking off with the ball, and especially now, they don’t have any restrictions on him at this point, so he’ll be able to run if and when needed.
- The head coach also agreed with Hurts’ post-game comments on Sunday that they haven’t played their best game yet, but Sirianni explained that’s because they strive to get better every day, so ultimately, he would expect their game in Week 18 to be the best one they’ve played.