Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters following the teams big Week 17 win over the Washington Football Team. It wasn’t the smoothest performance, but they were able to get things done, and the head talked about their aggressive fourth-down playcalling, when the team stayed calm despite a two-score deficit at the half, and a bit about Jalen Hurts’ performance.
Sirianni also explained that he called timeout when Washington was at 3rd-and-1 because he was confident in the defense getting a stop there and thought they’d get the ball back and make it a three-point game — it didn’t happen that way, which is the risk they took, He didn’t regret the decision either, saying that when he makes choices that he’s confident in, but they don’t always work out.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On the aggressive playcalling
Sirianni was asked about the offense being a little more aggressive on fourth down, and he talked about how each game is going to be different but he felt they needed to push a bit given how hot Washington QB Tyler Heinicke started.
“I know I’m going to get some questions about how the defense started — did you see some of the throws Heinicke was making early in that game? Getting away from the pressure that we were getting on him and making — the guy was playing good, so I felt like in those scenarios we had to be aggressive.
I’m always going to look at the chart, see what it says, and then make a decision based on what I think is necessary with that game.”
He credited the whole offense for making some of those fourth down redzone decisions look good because they were able to execute.
As for when they make the decision to go for it on fourth down, it’s not spur of the moment, it’s something they have figured out on first down depending on where they are on the field and what situation they’re looking at. Those are also things they try and sort out during the week in meetings, and try and think of different scenarios they might find themselves in and what they’ll do should they face them in games.
On the team staying calm
Sirianni is sticking with his line of not looking past next week and thinking ahead to the playoffs, but he’s proud of the way the team has bounced back from their 2-5 start to the season and will continue to take things one game at a time and worry about the things they can control. He likened coming back in the win column with coming back in games they’ve fallen behind — like on Sunday.
The head coach talked about how he felt a sense of calm on the sideline throughout the entire game, and he credited the team for understanding they just have to take things step-by-step. When you’re down two scores at halftime, you’re not going to get that come back right away, and understanding they just have to work their way back methodically, versus panicking, is what kept the team calm — similar to starting a season 2-5 and then coming back with a winning record.
Sirianni also agreed that part of the calmness around the team comes from quarterback Jalen Hurts, who has demonstrated all season his ability to stay even-keeled in good times and bad. Hurts and the rest of the leaders and captains are calm, the veterans have been in these situations before, and that trickles down to the rest of the roster.
On Jalen Hurts and his leadership
“Jalen was awesome today. We all know he’s dealing with an ankle injury and fighting through it. He’s tough — this guy is so tough, you guys. Just to see it everyday, I love seeing that everyday. I’ve said this plenty of times: high character, physical, tough, smart guys are going to reach their ceilings.
This guy is so tough, and he looked at me at one point in this game, and said — you know, obviously the whole game was tight, so tight part of this game He looked at me and said, ‘Whatever you gotta call, call, and I’ll make it work.’ And what he was saying to me was run, pass, quarterback run, quarterback read, whatever you call, I know how much this game means to our team, I’ll make it work.
Gosh, the calmness, the confidence, that instills calmness and confidence in everybody. And so, again, can’t say enough for him as a leader. Can’t say enough for him as a competitor. Can’t say enough about his toughness. I hope everyone knows, when I give a player the compliment of being a tough player, from me, that is the best compliment that I can give.”
On McLeod’s game-sealing INT
Sirianni said that he didn’t get a great look of the Rodney McLeod interception, and they didn’t replay it on the scoreboard, but the safety celebrating with the crowd afterward told him all he needed to know about whether it was a takeaway. He also gave Anthony Harris credit for his coverage on the play forcing Heinicke to sail it a bit and allow McLeod to make the catch.