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Nick Sirianni talks Eagles OTAs, the importance of competition, and Jalen Hurts

Plus, the head coach sets out his expectations of players heading into training camp.

Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Friday and gave a breakdown of how OTAs have been going, what he wants to see from the guys in the weeks leading up to training camp, and why he’s so focused on competition. He didn’t want to single any guys out who had impressed so far, but noted that he was happy with what he was seeing.

“I just saw a lot of guys out there really working on those fundamentals, really working at their craft, football IQ. Holding each other accountable, connecting with each other, competing with each other.”

Here’s some of what the head coach had to say:

On his expectations in the weeks leading up to camp

“I just told them this: I told them our habits are our core values. It’s connecting. Continue to find ways to connect with guys. Continue to find ways to compete with guys, right? And really when you’re by yourself, at times, when you’re working by yourself as a football player, in that summertime before the fall season starts, it’s how do you compete with yourself?”

Sirianni also talked to the players about accountability and encouraged them to get in the playbook and watch tape of their practices and the installs. He also emphasized — as he has all offseason — working on the fundamentals. He wants the guys to practice good habits, stay out of trouble, and come into camp in the best physical shape of their life.

The head coach acknowledged that guys have different routines and those things are going to look different for everyone — including some guys (read: veterans) who might need to get away for a week. So, how players spend the weeks leading up to camp is up to each individual.

On players and social media

Sirianni was asked about Andre Dillard’s comments regarding staying away from social media, and the head coach noted that mental health is so important. He talked about how his main focus is for everyone to get better every single day and he spoke to the players about distractions and how they can get in the way of development.

“And it’s different for everybody. I’m not going to go into every single one that we talk about, but social media is one. That might not be everybody’s crutch. I don’t have Facebook. I don’t know what they’re all called. But everybody’s distractions look a little different. It’s identifying what your distraction is and trying to put those aside.

My message has been you’re willing to do so many things to become a better football player, right — what you put in your body; how you work out. The sacrifices that you give to be a good football player are almost endless.

So if a distraction to you is social media and you feel like you’ve got to give that up, you’re doing all these other sacrifices, why not make it that as well.”

On the limited OTA work

The coaches and players agreed to OTAs that didn’t include 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 work, but Sirianni said that it was more a benefit than a hindrance. He noted that they were able to get a lot more individual work in with guys than they typically get at this point in the offseason, and that allowed them to really hone in on fundamentals. Plus, compared to no OTAs last offseason, Sirianni was happy to be able to get the time together that they did, even if that meant no team drills.

The head coach was happy with the compromise they came to with the players and acknowledged that just getting the guys in the building and being able to build a rapport in person was beneficial.

“It was good just to get around those guys and build those connections like you’re talking about. It really was. And it was not wasted time. We had great competition, connection. Everything we talk about was just three hard weeks of that.”

On emphasizing competition

Sirianni noted that if you practice competing you get better at competing and that’s why he emphasizes it so much. He pointed out that being in the NFL is such a cutthroat business, from players competing for their spots to competing on the field for a one-score win, it’s a critical part of what they do and that’s why it’s also something they need to actively practice.

“I think about it, like, why am I competitive? I had two older brothers that beat the crap out of me all the time. I had to be competitive, and I wanted to be competitive, and my dad made me be competitive. There has to be something to that. I’ve always thought that.

So, when you practice competing, just like you practice those plays, you’re going to get better and better and better at it. That’s the main philosophy behind it.”

The head coach went on to explain that they compete off the field shooting baskets and playing ping pong, and they’ve been competing on the field with precision drills and races.

“And the person that’s incredible — now you have me talking about it a little bit — but the person that’s incredible that doesn’t lose at anything is Jake Elliott. He’s phenomenal at everything. He can play ping-pong, throw the ball, kick. I haven’t seen him shoot a basketball yet.”

On Jalen Hurts

“He is a relentless worker. He comes to work every single day with the intent to get better every single day. And I just saw, even from Zoom meetings when we got in, I just saw him take command of the offense, and really just take command of the offense and was just on it. You ask him a question, he’s on it. It’s really translated into walk-throughs on the field and in drill work.

So, really impressed with his command, his attention to detail, his work ethic. He’s got all those intangibles right there, and I was really impressed with that from him. And then just on the field, he’s just got a really compact throwing motion where he can get it out with ease, and super athletic when he’s throwing on the run and moving and reading the defense. So, really pleased with a lot of things he did.”

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