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Nick Sirianni addresses Eagles’ special teams issues against the Packers

The Eagles head coach broke down what stood out from the game tape, and also talked about Jalen Hurts’ role in-between series.

The Eagles had a big win over the Packers on Sunday to go 10-1 on the season. Head coach Nick Sirianni was back to work on Monday, despite giving the players the day off, and spoke to reporters about what he saw from the film, how they’re going to address special teams issues, and a little about the Titans run defense.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

Injury updates

  • Sirianni mentioned that they are still waiting on some tests and results on C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s rib injury. He said they weren’t thinking about IR just yet, but he knows the safety was in pain after the hit he took on Sunday.
  • The head coach mentioned that there’s no reason to rush into decisions regarding Jordan Davis and when he’ll be back on the field — and how he’ll fit in once he is ready to return. Sirianni said Davis is attacking rehab “like crazy” and the training and medical staffs are doing everything they can to help him be ready.
  • Andre Dillard got a handful of snaps at left guard when Landon Dickerson was sidelined, and Sirianni said it’s really important for Dillard to have the flexibility to play both tackle and guard.

“With our situation at offensive line, we’ve had eight up; as you know this year, a couple times we’ve had nine up. But right now it’s been eight, and it’s important that those guys are cross-trained well to be able to handle, not only the left side but the right side, but not only tackle but guard.”

On Jalen Hurts

After their win on Sunday night, Sirianni mentioned that the QB brings them ideas in between series. On Monday, the head coach elaborated on that process, saying it all starts with evaluating things after each series, looking at the pictures and trying to fix any issues they identify. Then they start talking about the next drive and who will be on the field, how they’ll set up the offense, and what they should expect to see. Sirianni said that Hurts has a lot of valuable insight during that conversation, including what he thinks they can get to, and how he’s been seeing the game.

“So, it’s just kind of part of our process that we go through, and the only difference I guess is how much more Jalen is involved because of how well he’s seeing the game. So that’s kind of normal process for us, Jalen being involved more because he’s getting more and more comfortable and he’s seeing the field really well and he’s got great thoughts and ideas that have led to good plays.”

On special teams and kick coverage

Heading into the matchup, Packers CB Keisean Nixon was known as one of the better returners in the league, and yet the opted to kick it to him more than once. Sirianni explained that sometimes they didn’t have any other option due to field position, so they just kicked it as far as they could and hoped he wouldn’t take it out.

Sirianni admitted, though, that they need to do a better job on kickoff coverage.

“We need to put them in better positions, and that starts with me, and then it goes to Coach Clay.

Then, when we have a call on we have to perform the fundamentals necessary to make that call work. So, again, we’ve got to make the right decisions of how to put these guys in the spot, which we didn’t obviously do a good enough job yesterday, starting with me. And then guys have to make plays on that also.

But it always starts with us as coaches. Always, always, always.”

He later elaborated that coaches need to put players in the best position possible, but they also need to do a better job preparing the players to do the jobs they’re being asked to do.

“So, here is your assignment. Here is what’s critical for you to do for this play to be successful, and we’re trying to put you in the best spots as possible. And then, here is how you do that assignment. That’s fundamentals.”

Sirianni emphasized that the parity in the league really comes down to fundamentals and whichever team or player is the most fundamentally sound, typically wins the head-to-head battles. So, the coaches need to drill the fundamentals to make sure the players are equipped to perform when they’re placed in the best position to do so.

He later acknowledged that their answer to kickoff coverage might be personnel-related. Sirianni said that they would do whatever is necessary to get it fixed, but if there’s a guy from the practice squad who could help or even a starter that could take a phase or two of special teams play.

“I won’t tell you this is what’s happening this week because we’re still in the early phases of what can help. Again, it always starts with myself and putting them in the right position, but then the guys have to go out and execute it. It could be shuffling guys around. Like I said, I thought Nakobe Dean played a really good game on special teams, so maybe he takes a different role within the special teams. Maybe it is on kickoff, maybe kickoff return, wherever it may be, because he’s doing a nice job.

Again, doesn’t have to be just the guys in there. Can be a shuffle and everything is on the table to make sure that we’re doing our jobs to make sure that it gets right. That’s all we care about, is how we get this thing right.”

On what stood out from the tape

  • Everyone knows Miles Sanders had a great game on Sunday, but the film really highlighted how the RB was making some runs happen in big-time scenarios and he’s protecting the ball well.
  • Jack Stoll was another guy who played really well. The entire offensive line played well against the Packers, but Stoll was able to hold off the backside on a collapsing defensive end a couple of times.
  • A.J. Brown had his best blocking game against the Packers, particularly on Sanders’ first TD and Gainwell’s TD, and he really stepped up as they relied more on the run game.
  • Reed Blankenship had a really nice game on defense.
  • Nakobe Dean was good on special teams.
  • Arryn Siposs had some really good punts.
  • Fletcher Cox played his best game of the year.

“He was awesome in that game. He was on fire in that game. That was awesome because people feed off him. That’s your captain, your leader, and he goes out there and plays like that, everybody feeds off that. He’s exciting to watch when he’s creating havoc.”

On Reed Blankenship and Josiah Scott

“They just come to work everyday and we trust that they know what to do.”

Sirianni explained that the duo knows what to do because they work hard and study hard, but they also have talent and are tough. The coaches have faith in Blankenship and Scott when they take the field — and it’s not blind faith, they have faith because of the way the two practice and prepare.

On Tennessee’s run defense

Sirianni talked a lot about the respect he has for Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel and how his defensive talent and leadership have impacted Sirianni’s coaching over the years.

“They’re good. They’re really good. Again, they’re physical. They’re sound. They don’t beat themselves. They don’t have a lot of penalties.

My early studies on them is that I’m seeing a lot of the things I saw when we played them when I was with the Colts. [Jeffrey] Simmons, he’s a really good player. Plays at a very high level and still playing at high level. I was with [Denico Autry with the Colts, and he’s a really good player. Really tough player. Again, fits that mold of what Tennessee bases themself off of.

[Kevin] Byard, you always got to be aware of where he is on the football field, because he can make you pay at any moment with him being around the football.”

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