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Nick Sirianni hopeful to have Miles Sanders back for Eagles’ playoff game

Plus, the head coach talks Tampa Bay preparations and chances in their offense since Week 6.

Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Monday and talked a bit about the running back group and why they’ve been so successful this season, as well as how they are preparing for the Buccaneers in their first playoff game, and how Tampa Bay’s offense will differ from when they played them back October.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

On the running back group

Sirianni said that they are hopeful to have their full stable of backs ready to play in Sunday’s playoff game, including Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Boston Scott, and Kenny Gainwell. He noted again that they chose not to put Sanders on IR because of his potential to return in the postseason.

The head coach was later asked about the success of the run game, especially with so many rotating players due to injury on the offensive line and in the running back room. Sirianni credits the depth that the team has with both groups, and to have guys that can just step in speaks to the players they have and the coaches for getting them prepared.

He also noted that having a quarterback that demands respect as a runner and all the ways that he’s contributed to their success in the ground game. As well as having developed their passing game quite a bit throughout the season, which has opened some things up for the running backs.

He also talked about the benefits to having coach Jeff Stoutland on his staff, particularly in his first year as a head coach.

“Thankful that he’s here. He’s not only a great technician to get the guys better individually, he also does a great job of helping put them in good positions, so he’s great at scheming and he’s great as a technician.”

On preparing for the playoffs

Sirianni explained that they are coaches and when they go to prepare for an opponent, they look at the percentages and chances of a team doing one thing or another — they took that same approach on Sunday, noting that there was a greater chance that they would be facing off against the Buccaneers in Round 1, so they spent most of their time preparing for that outcome. He acknowledged they did have a plan for their other potential opponents, but they put most of their energy into preparing for Tampa Bay, so it worked out.

“This is a playoff game, as we know, but we’re not going into this game saying this is different than any other game that we play. And, we’re not going to tell these guys that they have to do something extraordinary to win this football game, or extraordinary because it’s a playoff game now.

No, it’s going to take everybody’s best effort, but the process remains the same of how we go about our business. When it’s about the process — when you’re process-driven and you’re results aware, then you don’t ride the highs and lows of the season. Not only am I speaking of highs and lows after a win or a loss, but also highs and lows of what you deem a big game and what you deem a not so big game. They’re all big in this league.”

He went on to admit that a lot of their games have had to pressure of a playoff game because they didn’t have a very big margin of error with how things started this season.

Sirianni said that QB Jalen Hurts is going to be ready for this game, that just so happens to be a playoff game, and he’s going to handle his business like he always does.

On playing a different Tampa Bay offense

It was pointed out that the Buccaneers are now without Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, two players they had when the Eagles faced them back in October, and Sirianni was asked how that might affect their offense.

“We’re both different teams than we were in Week 6, there’s no doubt about that. That’s what we’re working thought right now, we’re working through — we’re more so on first and second down right now, so I look forward to seeing how they’re different on third down and in the red zone. But, that’s the nature of the NFL, right, unfortunately guys go down with injuries and the next guy’s gotta step up. What I see in this team is they’re well-coached, and the next guy is ready to step up. I really do believe that with this Tampa team that we’re playing.”

The head coach went on to say that while there’s no doubt they are different, they still have stability at the quarterback position with Tom Brady — “one of the best players to ever play this game” — and so you’re still seeing some of the concepts that he likes to run.

Other notables

  • With Tyree Jackson going down with an ACL injury in Week 18, Sirianni confirmed that they will call up Richard Rodgers from the practice squad, but did note that they do have confidence in Noah Togiai, as well.
  • Sirianni was asked about the potential of Jason Huntley getting more opportunities as a kick returned given his performance on Saturday, and he admitted that he had a great performance both on special teams and as a runner, but unfortunately he’s in a talented room with a lot of depth. Still, it’s something they’re looking at, but they need to evaluate the roster. The head coach admitted it’ll be tough to be able to bring him up to the active roster this weekend.
  • They are going to stick with their same practice schedule as they’ve done the past few weeks, and don’t anticipate getting back into pads as they go into the postseason.

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