The Eagles are back in Philly following their Week 1 win over the Falcons, and head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters after having a chance to review the film. He talked about Jalen Hurts’ handling the blitz, how he was happy but not surprised with the OL play, and why rookie RB Kenny Gainwell earned his spot in the two-minute offense.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
- JJ Arcega-Whiteside is day-to-day with an ankle injury. Sirianni lauded the WR’s blocking against Atlanta and said they have to marry that with some catching opportunities in the future.
- Zach Ertz’s hamstring is still being evaluated, so for now they are just being cautious, but obviously he was able to return to the game on Sunday.
- Marcus Epps is still in the concussion protocol.
On how to keep the team motivated
The head coach was asked how to avoid a letdown in Week 2 after such a high to open the season, and Sirianni once again went back to their “dawg mentality”.
He emphasized that it’s not just about moving on from each play, but it’s also a day-to-day and week-to-week thing, so when they get back to practice on Wednesday, they won’t still be thinking about their win over the Falcons — if they do that, they’ll lose to the Niners. So, the message to to come out ready to play regardless of what happened the play, the day, the game before, and reinforcing that message is how they hope to avoid any letdowns.
Sirianni also pointed out that they’ve even had shirts made with “dawg culture” on them to really drive home the point.
On reducing pre-snap penalties
“There’s a difference between aggressive out of control and aggressive while playing within the rules of the game. Obviously, at all points, we want to be — we want to be mean, we want to be physical, we want to be aggressive, while still playing completely in control. And that’s the ability of a good football player, really to be honest with you. Like, ‘hey, how do we do all these things that we just talked about, but completely in control?’ There’s an art to that. So, that’s just being disciplined with everything that you’re doing. We talk about mastering the things that require no talent.”
On how Jalen Hurts handled the blitz
“Man I thought he did a really good job there. He did an excellent job. We turned a couple things free that we’re getting corrected today, and Jalen was just able to have this quick movement to get out of it. There’s a couple times, like, ‘Hey Jalen, on this coverage, on this play, I want your eyes over here,’ and there’s a guy blitzing over here and he felt and he went out. He really showed good instincts, and just good feel.”
On the offensive line play
Sirianni said that he thought the offensive line played a really good game and were able to show some dominance in the run game. He thought the pocket was really sound for a majority of the game, as well, and the one sack was because they had to move around since they didn’t have someone open down field.
He was really pleased with the unit overall, although Sirianni mentioned he wasn’t surprised given that this is a unit that determines whether they win or lose games. The head coach also called Jordan Mailata’s block on Jalen Reagor’s touchdown a “big time” play, but also pointed out that Jason Kelce peeled back to keep the DE from making the play, as well. Sirianni also joked that the hit by Mailata probably didn’t feel too good for Atlanta’s safety.
As far as Sirianni’s knowledge of Mailata prior to coming to Philly, he talked a bit about how the Aussie was someone they met with pre-draft in Indianapolis, and while he was a huge guy with a ton of muscle mass, at the time he was just a big guy with potential. He went on to give a ton of credit to Mailata for developing himself into a player who gets his kind of contract extension, and also lauds Jeff Stoutland for the work he put into that development. Sirianni also said that Mailata is still so new to the game that he’s still got a long way to go before hitting his ceiling.
- Sirianni was asked about Hassan Ridgeway and how he initially was cut from the 53-man roster only to be re-signed and contribute in Week 1. The head coach wanted to keep any conversations between them private, but acknowledged that they knew they were going to need him and wanted him back with the team. He noted that Ridgeway was awesome and had the ability to move on from being cut and really helped the defense against Atlanta.
- On the two red zone stops from the Eagles defense, Sirianni said that they got a great rush from the entire defensive line on the first one, and Javon Hargrave in particular beat his man to start the pocket collapse. On the second stop, they got around to the perimeter well to be able to make a play even if the Falcons had completed the pass. The head coach said those were huge plays, and how those are 4-point plays, which can really matter at the end of a game.
- Sirianni was asked what he liked about rookie RB Kenny Gainwell in the two-minute offense and how he earned that role, and the head coach pointed to him showing that he can protect. He had to prove that he could block in order to earn that role, because if he’s going out to catch every time he’s on the field, they might as well just send a receiver instead. Sirianni noted that Gainwell still has things to work on, but he had a couple big time plays in protection on Sunday and they felt like he earned the right to contribute in the two-minute drive.