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Nick Sirianni explains decision to rest Eagles starters, talks record-breakers

Plus, the Eagles head coach shares his message with the team as they start playoff prep.

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters following the team’s Week 18 loss to the Cowboys. He talked about his decision to rest most of the starters and why he doesn’t think it’ll halt the momentum they’ve had the past couple weeks, and also addressed some of the records broken in the contest and why they are important to him and his players.

Sirianni also brought up his message to the team this week as they start preparing for the playoffs.

“So, the first message is – what’s that saying, ‘We didn’t come this far to only come this far.’ So, let’s make sure we’re locked into what put us in this position in the first place. Detail in meetings, starting with the coaches going to the players, full speed in walk-through to the snap and then high intensity at practice and just try to get a little bit better each day to put ourselves in position to go 1-0 this week.”

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

On his decision to rest starters

Sirianni noted that players on the COVID list kind of forced his hand with some of the roster, but that with regards to Jalen Hurts, they felt this was an opportunity for him to get back to 100 percent heading into the playoffs and get some rest on his ankle. Same goes for guys like Lane Johnson and Landon Dickerson who had minor injuries they wanted to rest before the postseason.

“I feel really confident in the decision in the sense that I know how we practice. We have great intensity at practice because of the leaders that we have on this football team.”

The head coach admitted that he played Jason Kelce to make sure he kept his continuous streak, and that some of the record stuff means a lot to him and the players. Sirianni said that when they are in a position to reward players but not put them at risk, they want to do that.

Same with DeVonta Smith. Sirianni spoke with the rookie receiver earlier in the week, and while he wanted to do whatever was best for the team, regardless of breaking the receiving record, the head coach knew Smith ultimately wanted that record.

He later talked about how they knew early in the week that Hurts would sit and Gardner Minshew would play, but he was impressed that it never leaked. Minshew took all the reps during the week, but since it wasn’t know, the Cowboys had to prep for both QBs.

Sirianni said this was the first time in his career that he was even in a position to rest players ahead of the playoffs, so he did his due diligence and talked to a bunch of people, who helped lead him to the decision. He doesn’t think it will affect their momentum.

On breaking the franchise rushing record

“Obviously disappointed in that we lost here tonight. Our goal was to come out here and play the guys we played and win the football game.

But to get that record — and I get it, we played 17 games this year. The team that had the record, what year was that? I imagine they played 14 or 12.

Yeah, so, hey, we got more games than them. But I think it means a lot. I know it means a lot to us as coaches, it means a lot to the players. No other Eagles team in the history of the Eagles has rushed for as many yards as we have.

We all know that’s where we really started getting — as we started to play better and better on offense, it was because of way we ran the football, the guys up front, the guys running the ball. So, it was very exciting to go get that.

To be able to be successful in this game we were going to have to rush for 41 yards, so you were thinking you were going to get that anyway.

But we’re just excited that we were able to accomplish that feat. But make no mistake about it, we wanted to win that football game and we didn’t do a good enough job to do so.”

Other notables

  • Sirianni was asked about the timing of so many players testing positive for COVID, but the head simply said that some of them were symptomatic and not feeling well, and that many of the guys tested positive.
  • There’s been a little bit of preparation for the Buccaneers and the Rams, but they’re going to wait to put too much time into that until they know their opponent.
  • The head coach spoke about areas they want to improve this week, and he mentioned wanting both sides of the ball to start fast and get their game going quicker than they have the last couple weeks. He also talked about knowing that they’ll be in a position at some point where they have to be able to stop the passing game, so they’ll need that tidied up, too.

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