Donning a “Beat Dallas” shirt, Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Thursday, and talked about the division rivalry, how they are game planning with Zach Ertz on the COVID list, and how he’s working to be a better play-caller.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On Beat Dallas week
Sirianni talked about how often he’ll interact with fans who include a little note to be sure he beats Dallas, and he thinks it’s really cool that he gets to be a part of this rivalry.
“Really love that I’m able to partake in this rivalry. It means a lot to the city, it means a lot to our team, and it means a lot to this building.”
The head coach admitted he’s got another “Beat Dallas” shirt as well, his kids have them, his wife has one, and they’ll be wearing them all week. He wasn’t concerned with whether or not the Cowboys use a picture of him in the shirt as bulletin board material, Sirianni said it’s about honoring a great rivalry — one that both teams probably don’t need bulletin board material to get amped up for.
On game planning
The head coach talked about how they have to double plan for whether they have certain players or not each week, like this week with Zach Ertz — who is still on the COVID list. They will have a plan for if he’s able to play, and one for if he’s not, and that’s something they expect to do throughout the season as guys get hurt or rehab back, as well.
If Ertz can’t play, the offense will need to rely on Jack Stoll a bit more, and Sirianni talked about what he’s seen from the young player so far.
“He’s gritty, he’s tough, and we love that on this team. We love those guys that are gritty and tough, and they just do what they gotta do to get their job done. So, that’s what I’ve felt out of him so far. There’s no doubt that — you think about Jack, and I think with Zach and with Dallas [Goedert], you’re like, ‘Oh, Jack’s just a blocker,’ and that’s part of his role, but, you’re right, he can catch the football, he runs good routes, he’s technically sound. I’m really pleased that we have him on this team.”
With Brandon Brooks on short-term IR, Sirianni didn’t quibble over who would be taking the right guard’s spot, and acknowledged it will be rookie Landon Dickerson. But, the head coach noted, that Nate Herbig has to be ready to go on Sunday, as well.
Sirianni later was asked whether they take into consideration something as simple as weight of their opponents when game planning, and he admitted they definitely look at that when sizing up matchups. He noted that their priority when game planning is: players, matchups, and then plays.
On how the team handled the Week 2 loss
Sirianni noted that it’s a little different this week since they’re playing on Monday night, the team had one extra day to kind of sit with the loss before they worked to make those corrections and move on to Dallas. But, he said that it felt similar to after Week 1’s win, they were back to work and looking ahead when they got back in the building.
He later talked about how much time he puts in to self-evaluating things that he needs to improve on, and plays that he needs to call better. Sirianni admitted he dragged himself through the mud after the loss, but eventually a switch has to flip to regain confidence and start preparing for the week ahead. This week, his message to himself was to trust the process and preparation he puts in, and let that work be enough to feel confident on game day.
The head coach also talked about continuing to lean on the guys he has on staff that have play-calling experience to help him make good decisions.
On the coachability of players
Sirianni was asked about Jalen Hurts and how he handles some of the bigger pressure moments and when his mistakes are pointed out on film.
“I think he’s very coachable. Very, very coachable. And, as a matter of fact, I don’t think that’s — I think this whole team is very coachable. And I think when you’re making corrections on film, as long as your — as long as you as a coach, and this is my job as a coach, is that there’s a standard. There’s a standard that is set on each play. The job description on each play, we feel as coaches, are very defined.”
They hold everybody accountable to that standard, so as long as every player is being corrected, Sirianni has found that every player will be very coachable.
- Sirianni was asked what makes a transition from college to the NFL difficult for rookie receivers, and he pointed out that the coverage and it being tougher to get separation as something that they have to adjust to. Everything is a bit more contested. He noted, however, that the SEC —where DeVonta Smith played — is probably the closest to the NFL in terms of coverage, so it wasn’t completely new to him.
- The head coach also stood by his evaluation of Jalen Hurts and still doesn’t feel like the QB was holding on to the ball for too long in Week 2. Sirianni pointed to one play they reviewed that they wanted his setup point to be earlier, but overall he doesn’t feel like Hurts is holding the ball is one of his issues.