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Nick Sirianni talks Jalen Hurts’ development with pre-snap decisions, blitz reactions

Plus, the Eagles head coach spoke to reporters about the Cowboys and preparing for a tough secondary.

Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke with reporters on Wednesday and talked about Jalen Hurts’ responsibilities pre-snap and how they’ve evolved over the past year, as well as how the quarterback has developed against the blitz. Sirianni also addressed their red zone passing efficiency, and what they’re preparing for against Dallas on Sunday.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

On Jalen Hurts’ development

Sirianni was asked how Jalen Hurts’ pre-snap responsibilities have grown over the past year, but the head coach said that things have stayed pretty similar. They try and keep things simple so that the QB can just go out and execute, but they might give him one or two more checks.

“So, you might have a little bit more here and there. But again, you have to be careful of that and you have to guard yourself on that of when you let your quarterback try to put you in a perfect play each time. That doesn’t work either. Sometimes when you do that you get down to the one-second on the play clock and you’re clapping for the ball. There’s a balance in it and he’s definitely had some more growth with that but again the more he can handle, the more we have to guard ourselves on how much you still give him.”

The head coach later talked about how Hurts has been handling the blitz, especially coming off of a game in which Arizona brought it, a lot. Sirianni said that Hurts has been doing a good job, and has evolved how he escapes and scrambles on a blitz.

“I read something a player on the Cardinals said last week: every time he goes right he throws it, and every time he goes left, he runs it, but he could throw it. Well, I don’t think that’s true. I’ve actually seen him growing there that he’s breaking out-of-the-pocket and he’s making plays with both his feet and his arm to the right or the left.”

He admitted that the Cardinals brought one more than they could protect against on the 3rd and 12, but Hurts didn’t run in that moment, instead he stood there and threw a dime to Dallas Goedert for what Sirianni called one of the biggest conversions they’ve had this year.

On the red zone passing game

Sirianni said that their goal is to score a touchdown everytime they are in the red zone, and they are a little short of that goal right now.

“We know that we have the ability to run the ball down there but again, you don’t want to be too predictable, either. So, you’re looking to marry things. You’re looking to mesh things together.

I thought in the Jacksonville game, we had some opportunities to make some plays there in the pass game on that just because that was the way it was going, and we missed a couple of those opportunities, whether it was a coaching thing or whether it was an execution thing, this or that. Obviously, we always want it improve there and that’s always a focus for us of how we are going to improve passing the ball in there and using our play-makers down there.”

On preparing for the Cowboys

During the week, Sirianni has talked quite a bit about Micah Parsons, but on Wednesday, he talked about how the secondary could also be a challenge for the Eagles on Sunday.

“You have got to be alert for where [Micah] Parsons is, you have got to be alert for where [Demarcus] Lawrence is and you have to be alert for where [Trevon Diggs] is. I was with Malik Hooker in Indy and he has got great ball skills. You have got to be alert where he is because he can turn the ball over.

As far as Diggs goes, you’ve just got to be alert – he housed one against us last year in the first game, so you’ve got to be alert for where he is and understand the routes that you have on against him. He’s a really good playmaker. [...] He’ll make you pay if you make a mistake. So, we’ve got to be on our fundamentals. We have to be on our details, and we have got to be on our reads because we know they have the playmakers over there on defense to make you pay if you’re not.”

Sirianni also gave a lot of credit to head coach Mike McCarthy, Cooper Rush, and the surrounding players on offense who have been able to win four games in a row without Dak Prescott. He noted that there’s a lot more tape on Rush now than there was a year ago, so they’ll study those games like crazy and have a plan.

The Eagles aren’t using the two games against the Cowboys in 2021 as motivation, though, with Sirianni admitting they have a lot of new players who don’t have a chip on their shoulder about Dallas putting up 96 points against Philly last season.

“Chauncey [C.J. Gardner-Johnson] doesn’t care that they scored 96 last games. A.J. [Brown] doesn’t care they scored 96 last two games that we played them. We are here. We can’t control that, right. We can only control where we are at today. We are not looking behind us. We are not looking ahead of us. We are looking at what we have to do to go 1-0 today so we can go 1-0 this weekend.”

Other notables

  • Sirianni said that Jordan Davis is getting a little bit better each week, and noted that the rookie DT had his best game to date on Sunday against the Cardinals. Davis is in the mindset of growing and improving every day.
  • Wednesday was a walk-through day for the team and Sirianni acknowledged that he’s leaning both on player data and sports science, as well as his feelings about where the guys are. He credited the resources available to him by the Eagles organization, but said he ultimately has to make decisions based on what he thinks is best.

“I think [the captains] are going to always want to practice. They are always going to want to go. But I discuss with them, I always have a leadership council meeting every Saturday. I’m going to discuss everything with them.”

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