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Nick Sirianni talks Eagles vs. Falcons prep, lessons from Frank Reich

Plus, the Eagles head coach talks Saturday night meetings, DeVonta Smith’s preparedness, and more.

Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Friday ahead of the team’s first regular season game and talked about his relationship with former Philadelphia OC Frank Reich and how he reaches out to him regularly. He also spoke about his message to the team on Saturday night, his thoughts on DeVonta Smith’s readiness, and gave a few injury updates.

Sirianni also explained where the team is heading into the regular season.

“I’m excited about this team. Again, I see a team that is really close together. I see a team that has continued to improve their fundamentals. I thought yesterday’s practice particularly, I was watching third down on the offense, we were just really crisp in the fundamentals, in the pass game. Every play I was watching with the guys, I was like, ‘This is exactly how you do it, this is exactly how you do it.’ That is a good feeling as a coach, right, to really feel like we’re getting better.”

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

On his relationship with Frank Reich

Sirianni admitted that he does have several former coaches and colleagues that he keeps in touch with, and he has talked to Frank Reich the past few days — even joking that he’s probably talked to Reich more than his own wife this week. The head coach also said that his conversations with Reich aren’t just Xs and Os but involve communicating with the team and being a leader, and just life in general.

When asked how valuable having an outside voice like Reich’s to be able to bounce ideas off and have those conversations, Sirianni emphasized his appreciation.

“I can’t say enough good things about him. Shoot, I know the city can’t either, right? You guys won a Super Bowl with him as offensive coordinator. He’s like a big brother to me. Again, it’s just not football things. It’s super helpful to have that.

I think you ask anybody in life, to be able to talk through things, problems, good times, bad times, whatever, situations you’re going through, everybody needs somebody like that. I’m just lucky that I have somebody like that in Frank.”

He was asked about Reich meeting with former head coach Doug Pederson on Saturday nights before games and Sirianni noted that they did that their first year together in Indianapolis, but then they started spreading things out a bit Thursday, Friday and Saturday — Sirianni likes that better.

On his Saturday night message to the team

“I’ve put a lot of thought into it. Just the way my mind works, I kind of think about every scenario we could be in. So, I think about this first game and what’s a good message for the first game. I think about our first home game — this is what I’ve been doing for the last five years as getting ready for head coach, when I figured I got a chance to be a head coach. What you’re gonna say to a team before your first home game. What you’re going to say to a team when you’re on a winning streak. What you’re going to say to a team when you’re on a losing streak. What you’re going to say to a team when you’re an underdog. What are you going to say to a team when you’re favored. Hostile environment. Guys banged up. Late in the year. So, the list goes on and on, and I kinda got a talk for — I’m kind of a nerd, so I got a talk for all those things”

He went on to explain that he considers Fridays, “Focus Fridays,” — compared to other teams who call them “Fast Fridays” — because after being in the building Monday through Thursday from 6am to 10pm, Friday is their chance to get home at a reasonable hour and while it may be a time to unwind, it’s not a time to lose focus. Sirianni said that will be his message on this particular Saturday as well, regardless of the last play, good or bad, they need to be completely focused on the task at hand.

On DeVonta Smith

“I feel good about where he is. I feel good about his fundamentals, his technique, his ability obviously. I feel good that him and Jalen [Hurts] have past history and past chemistry as well. And so, I feel good about the chemistry between the quarterback and the wide receiver.”

Injury updates

  • Brandon Brooks will play on Sunday.
  • Rodney McLeod and Landon Dickerson will be out against the Falcons this week. Sirianni said they’ve both done really well in practice this week, and he’s been impressed with McLeod’s leadership — which he’s seen more of as he works with the scout team a little bit. He wanted to emphasize that everyday he sees more-and-more why McLeod’s teammates voted him a captain, and went on to say that the safety is a team player and leads by example.

Other notables

  • In terms of game management, Sirianni said that he has a couple guys to help him out in timeout, penalty, and other situations. But, he acknowledged that at the end of the day, everything is going to fall on him, so as the head coach, it’ll be up to him to make those decisions. He wouldn’t say exactly who he leans on in those situations, but noted it’s a group effort, and ultimately he’s very comfortable making the final decisions.
  • Sirianni also said that the way they’ve structured practices has prepared them to go from preseason to regular season workloads. They started out with five and six play drives and worked up to 12 and then back down to 10. So, he knows they have to be prepared for a hot environment in Atlanta, and in Week 1 he expects everyone to have a role, even if it’s just a handful to plays, to get everyone up to speed.

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