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Eagles players laud Nick Sirianni’s first year, talk confidence in Jalen Hurts

Fletcher Cox calls Sirianni a “players coach” and DeVonta Smith defends Jalen Hurts as the future for the franchise.

The Philadelphia Eagles and head coach Nick Sirianni took a team that started off 2-5 to the playoffs, and despite a loss in the first round, still exceeded expectations. Sirianni was steadfast throughout the season with his messaging, both privately and publicly, and earned the respect of the locker room.

As players packed up their things and were getting ready for a break before the offseason program begins, several spoke to reporters about the 2021 season, their thoughts on Sirianni and the job he did, as well as what they see for the future of the team.

Fletcher Cox, despite being among trade talks during the season, made it known that he was happy in Philly, but wouldn’t address any additional contract talks between himself and the organization. Still, he gave Sirianni a lot of credit for what he did in his first year with the team, and what they were able to accomplish.

“Nick [Sirianni], he’s a really good coach, and everybody loved playing for him. He’s got a sense of humor and he’s a players coach, and you can’t do nothing but respect that. All the coaches really, from offensive side to defensive side of the ball, special teams, and you see that and you see what we’re trying to do here, and it’s special.”

Cox admitted that the season was a different experience for younger and rookie players, who didn’t also have to manage the transition of a coaching staff, but Landon Dickerson still lauded Sirianni and the foundation he set.

“Coach has done a tremendous job. You know, he came in here, and he hasn’t changed his plan. He hasn’t changed anything he said. He stuck to his word and he stayed on course. That’s all you can ask for, is consistency. I think that’s a huge thing in this league, is being consistent with what you’re doing, and he’s sticking to his plan and sticking to what he says, and I really appreciate that, and I think that it’s set us up for a great foundation for what the future of this team can be.”

Dickerson took some time to talk about offensive line coach/running back coordinator Jeff Stoutland, as well, and what the veteran coach meant to his development.

“I think Stout is one of the best coaches, one of the best in the league at what he does. He takes players and he does everything he can to get the best out of, not only the players as individuals, but that unit as a whole, and the team as a whole. So, he’s been a tremendous part of my development this year and helping me get better, fixing things, correcting things that he sees that I can do better.”

Notably, it wasn’t just the coaching staff Dickerson wanted to give credit, either, with the rookie explaining what an honor it’s been to be able to play alongside and learn from Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce.

“It’s been a tremendous honor to play with both of these guys. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have been able to play beside them, and be in meetings with them, and learn from them. They’re extremely great football players, they’re even better humans when it comes to how they treat people and how they go about their lives. It does kind of suck this time, because the season’s over and this is our livelihoods, and I enjoy every second I’m in this building with those guys.”

Sirianni helped lay a new foundation for the future of the franchise, and certainly got help from guys like Stoutland, Johnson and Kelce, who are engrained in Eagles lore and understand the nuances of playing in Philly.

Someone whose role is a bit more up in the air is quarterback Jalen Hurts. On paper, he’s done everything right this season, especially off the field and in the locker room. He earned the respect of his teammates, developed each and every week, but at times, showed every bit of being a second-year QB. Still, former and current teammate DeVonta Smith thinks Hurts has done enough to prove that he’s the quarterback to lead the Eagles into the future.

“Most definitely. I think he has. I mean, first year starter, leads us to the playoffs, things like that. I mean, everything’s not gonna be what you want it to be, you’re gonna have ups and downs. You’re gonna have little bumps here and there, and I mean, when adversity strikes, he responds. So, I think he’s gonna be that guy.”

Hurts emphasized the relationships he’s built this year with his teammates and coaches as far as whether he’s done enough to be the starter next season.

“I think I’ve done a lot of great things this year. A lot of things to learn from. Personally, I think the most important thing when you ask that question, is the relationships I’ve built with my teammates. The time that we’ve put in, put in the work. Getting this far in the season, and overcoming the different things we’ve overcome this year. And, being with my coaches, and the relationships with them, and building something special in the future. So, I think there’s a lot of value in everything that’s happened this year.”

The quarterback talked a bit about the collaboration between Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman, Sirianni and himself, and noted that while there is certainly disappointment in how the season ended, there’s a lot of motivation moving forward. Hurts prides himself on finding anything that may be teachable and constantly making improvements, so that’s his goal for this offseason, and to come back even better.

“My second year as a starter, started today, and that’s where my head is. Attack it. Attack it and learn from everything, and attacking it to be a better quarterback next year. Be a better leader next year for my team, and I think everybody is on the same page with that.”