The Eagles are officially in their offseason with coaches and players having their end-of-year meetings, which also means Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters one last time before switching gears to the NFL Draft.
Throughout the course of the press conference, both Roseman and Sirianni spoke about their goals of not just being a playoff time, but rather building a team that plays home playoff games and gets first-round bye weeks in the postseason. Without noting it specifically, their repeated use of those terms in varying combinations makes it clear that those are their established goals for next season and beyond as they look at what moves they may make this offseason.
Here’s what the GM and head coach had to say:
On Jalen Hurts
Roseman was asked if he’s seen enough from Jalen Hurts this year to feel comfortable with him being the starter moving forward.
“We talk about Jalen and the growth he had, really first-year starter, second-year player, leading this team to the playoffs. Tremendously impressed by his work ethic, his leadership. We talked last time — the last time we talked was during camp, and we said we wanted to see him take the bull by the horn, and he certainly did that.”
The GM was pushed a bit more for a definitive answer, to which he responded, “Yes.”
He was also asked about, despite that vote of confidence in Hurts, whether they would look at other potential options with their available draft capital. Roseman explained that they are in the process of evaluating the team as a whole and looking at ways and opportunities they have to build. They do their research on different players who are or may become available so they have the information they need at any position.
Roseman was asked again later on for clarity sake whether they saw Hurts as their quarterback in 2022, and the GM, again, answered, “Yes.”
“We’ve got to do whatever we can to continue to help him develop. And how do we that? By surrounding him with really good players. Players continue to grow, that’s a huge part of developing — they grow. How they are in their second year is not how they’re going to be in Year 4, 5, 6 and 7. And, they’re also products of the people around them, so that’s on us to continue to build this team.”
Sirianni also later talked about how they’ve communicated their plans for the future with Hurts, and he acknowledged that he knows he’s the guy.
“Jalen knows where he stands with us. He knows he’s our quarterback. How do you know where you stand with a coaching staff? Because you communicate and you talk over and over and over and over again.
And so, Jalen knows where he stands with us. I thought he did a great job of getting better throughout the year, as we’ve talked about, and so there’s no secrets there. He knows he’s our guy.”
The head coach also broke down how they evaluate Hurts and his development from the season, pointing out that they look at the entire body of work — so not just the playoff game, or his bad game against the Giants. He’s pleased with the way Hurts has developed as a passer, and there’s evidence of his improvements throughout the season — with Sirianni crediting Hurt’s desire to improve and to be an elite NFL quarterback. He also pointed to early in the season, Hurts would extend plays with his legs, but as the season progressed, extending plays more often included passes.
Toward the end of their press conference, Roseman was reminded of his comments at this time last year about Carson Wentz, and how he was like a finger on his hand, and was asked how the value of his comments about Hurts might compare.
“I think when you look at any position, opportunities come about in this league — and I’m certainly not talking about the quarterback position — where you have to make decisions about what’s best for the franchise. I think last year with Carson, we had to figure out going forward what really made the most sense when we got the offer that we did.
Certainly, that changed there, I understand that, but us right now, we are in this mode of trying to build this team and build this team and get as many talented players that we possibly can to compete for championships going forward. We have a great opportunity to do that this off-season to keep building.”
On Jalen Reagor
Roseman was asked about 2020 first-round pick Jalen Reagor and his thoughts on the WR’s development, as well as what they’ve learned from that draft selection.
“As we head into Year 3, we expected more from Jalen at this point. We had a chance to sit down with him after the season and have an honest conversation about the things he needs to develop, and the things we can help him develop to continue his growth.”
He went on to say that they are constantly learning from, and evaluating, their decisions to see what they don’t like about some of those decisions and things they did well. Not necessarily just with Reagor, but in their roster building approach as a whole, and Roseman said it’s all part of them continuing to grow.
On 3 first round picks
Roseman was asked about how they view positional value, especially now that they have three first round picks — pointing out their historical lack of first-round picks on the linebacker and safety positions.
“We have a philosophy on how to build this team. a philosophy that we think has been successful, obviously you’d like more championships every time you’re out there, but we’re gonna stay committed to the way we think to build the team.
And in terms of having those three first-round picks, I think it’s important that we bring in good players that fit the system that our coaches run, that also fit the fabric of this team. We have a lot of good players, who are also good people, and it’s important for us to have those guys on the team.
And, we don’t go into a draft saying we’re not going to do something. I think for us, it’s all about the skillset of that particular player, football character of that player.”
Roseman was later asked whether they will use their abundance of picks to leverage future draft capital, and he admitted that it all depends on who is on the board when they’re on the clock. Stocking up on picks in 2023, similar to the haul they have in 2022, will be something they consider, but it’ll come down to who is available.
The GM also talked about how they weigh picking players that fit into the scheme already established by the coaching staff, and how that they’ll never be able to get the most out of someone who isn’t being utilized in the best way for the team and individual. However, he mentioned later on that one of the things they liked about Nick Sirianni during his interview process was his philosophy of structuring systems and schemes around the talents of the players they have.
On the WR group
Sirianni talked about the group of young receivers, and explained that he feels really good about the group as a whole.
- He named DeVonta Smith the No. 1 receiver, as someone who can consistently win one-on-one, he can make plays with the ball in his hands, he catches everything, and due to his competitive nature. Smith is continuing to improve, and Sirianni said that he doesn’t feel there are too many true No. 1 receivers in the NFL, but they have one.
- Quez Watkins is their No. 2 receiver, and he’s got a big-time speed, he’s got a knack for making plays. Sirianni admitted that the style of offense they played this year didn’t allow for Watkins to get as many touches as he deserved. Out of the No. 2 wideouts Sirianni has been around in the NFL, he believes Watkins can be one of the best because of his skillset. The head coach also credited Watkins’ ability to be very steady and even-keeled, like Jalen Hurts.
- They want more production from Jalen Reagor, but he has all the talent for that, so Sirianni likes him in that No. 3 spot. He acknowledged that it’s a two-way street, but it’s their job as coaches to put him in the best position to succeed, along with Reagor making plays when the opportunities arise.
- Sirianni also really values Greg Ward’s contributions to the group. He called Ward one of the main leaders on the team and in the wide out group, and to go from having 50-60 targets in a season to a reduced role this year, but to maintain his effort and lead speaks volumes to the kind of guy he is.
- As for the blocking element, they have that in JJ Arcega-Whiteside. He was a good blocker and their enforcer this season, and made blocks when they needed him to and helped the run game. Sirianni was happy with how JJAW approached his role this season.
On the arc of the season
Roseman reflected on the season as a whole and the team’s ability to bounce back after a slow start.
“We knew this season there were going to be some highs and some lows. I think we felt that during training camp that we were kind of trying to figure out our identity, our personnel. Coach did an amazing job with that. So really proud of him and his staff and the communication that they had throughout that process.
At the same time, like I said, we have to continue to build. We know that we have to get to a certain level to be a team that has a bye, that has home playoff games and eventually competes to win a world championship.
We are certainly not satisfied with where we are. We know there is a lot of work to do, and we started that. We started that during the season by resigning our own free agents, which is a huge part of free agency, is to keep your own players, the guys that you know. You know their work ethic, and you know their fit. We did that to get a head start and a kick start into the season, but there is a lot of work to be done, and excited about the opportunity ahead.”
- Sirianni was asked about his coordinators and coaching staff, and he acknowledged that he really likes his staff and he has a great group of guys who work well together. He’s still in the processing of evaluating everything, and started his end-of-year meetings with coaches on Wednesday, but he really likes the group he has.
- Roseman talked about how he’s spent a lot of time thinking about previous offseasons that he had considered transitional or go-for-it years, but until they are talking about a team that is consistently hosting home playoff games or getting first round byes, he considers it still a building process.
- Roseman was asked about the Fletcher Cox trade rumors back near the trade deadline and he acknowledged that it’s their job to listen to everything, every offer, and see if there are ways to improve the team. Teams were making calls about Cox near the deadline, but the Eagles’ priorities will always be along the lines of scrimmage. They communicated with Cox about what was going on, but he’s a guy that was a big part of their success down the stretch, and he can continue to take over games, so they expect more that going forward.
- Roseman said that it was really important to them that Brandon Brooks ended the season healthy, and had an offseason where he wasn’t rehabbing — although, the GM wouldn’t specifically address rumors Brooks was looking at retirement.
- The GM, however, does see a role for Brandon Graham on this team next season as he works his way back.
“We miss BG. We miss BG the player, and there is nobody who can replace BG, the person, the leader that he is as well. We know he’s attacking this rehab. We see him every day around here. And he has a chip on his shoulder, and we do see a role for him going forward, and we are excited to get him back next year. He’s a huge part of our football team.”