The Eagles were back to work on Wednesday and head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters before they hit their walk-through. He talked about Jalen Hurts’ development from last season to this year, as well as the defense’s increased sack production, and what he’s able to focus on now that Shane Steichen is the playcaller.
As for the comments made by Micah Parsons about Jalen Hurts not being MVP, Sirianni hadn’t heard them prior to speaking to reporters, but wasn’t focused on them.
“Honestly, I’m not familiar with that yet. I imagine someone will bring it to my attention next week. I don’t know. We’re worried about the Bears and the Bears only.”
Here’s what else the head coach had to say:
On Jalen Hurts’ development
When asked what part of Hurts’ game has benefitted from having the same playcaller in consecutive years — the first time in his career since high school —, Sirianni said he sees it a lot in the QB’s reads. He explained that’s where you’ll see it the most because he’s running similar plays for two years now, even though he’s seeing different defenses and going different places with the ball.
The head coach pointed to a specific four-yard pass to Zach Pascal on Sunday against the Giants as an example of Hurts’ development. He explained that they actually got the coverage they were expecting on that play, but the ball was designed to go elsewhere that ended up being a little cloudy. Hurts identified that and instead found Pascal for a gain, and that was one of Sirianni’s favorite plays of the game because of how it played out.
“Those are showing you his growth, his development of that, and that’s a play that we’ve been running for a couple years and that he has a lot of reps on and he knows what it’s supposed to look like; when it’s not looking that way, he moves on. I think that’s a really good example of that, and that’s one of the plays we showed in the team meeting today of just really good quarterback play.”
Sirianni later talked about Hurts improving in the pocket — the QB now leads the NFL in completion percentage from the pocket at 73 percent.
“I think what he’s most improved on is just his timing with everything, how he’s seeing the field. It all starts with that. You can be as accurate as you want. You can be the most accurate person in the world, but if you’re not seeing it in time, these defensive backs close quick and if you’re not seeing it in time, these defensive linemen can close quick.
I think the biggest improvement he just keeps getting better at is his vision and how he’s seeing it, and it’s because he works his butt off. He’s always here. He’s always in this building. It doesn’t matter what time of day. It doesn’t matter if the players are in that day or not. He’s always here. Always working on his craft. Always working on getting his body physically ready. Always working on his mind, making sure that’s mentally ready. A tribute to Jalen; he’s a stud.”
On the defensive production
Sirianni credited the increase in sacks this season to the entire defense, but did acknowledge that Haason Reddick is a great pass rusher. His 10 sacks add to an already impressive performance by the rest of the group.
“A lot of credit of our sack numbers going up, deservedly so, should go to Haason, but it’s a great unit in whole. Then our secondary is doing a great job of making them hold the ball, take longer. Our defensive coaches are doing a good job, Jonathan [Gannon] is doing a good job of putting them in position to help make the guy hold the ball, take longer, and then obviously those guys are going out there and winning their one-on-one pass rushes.”
The head coach later talked about Brandon Graham, who despite fewer snaps has been playing more effectively. Sirianni explained that the rotation they’re able to do helps keep Graham fresh — something that benefits the whole defensive line, not just Graham.
“He’s done a great job of taking advantage of the reps that he’s gotten, and even though BG is not out there at times, like he’s the leader. He’s one of the biggest leaders on this football team, and people thrive off of — it’s contagious, his energy is contagious. I think he’s just having a great year.”
On relinquishing playcalling duties
Sirianni talked about how giving playcalling to Shane Steichen has changed his approach as the head coach. He noted that it helps him plan and study situational football, while Steichen has a feel for what order to call things.
“I’m able to do some of the things that are going to be necessary for 4th down decisions or two-minute decisions or four-minute decisions or some of those things that I have to really be on, because we know the margin of error in this league is very small. I have to be on my duties as a head coach, I have to be on those things and be convicted on when I’m making decisions and not just blind conviction, conviction based off of major, major studying. After the plan is in, after Shane and myself and the offensive staff have put the plan in, that’s kind of the way we kind of go. I’m working on that part of it, Shane’s working on this part of it, and I feel a big benefit from that, and I know we’re getting better in our process each day with that and each week.”
- Sirianni talked about bringing Anthony Harris back, and said he was really happy to see him back in the building. He admitted that having the tough conversations during roster cuts is always difficult, but they refer back to the connection and relationship they had up to that point in order to move on.
- He came up in the coaching ranks with Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus, and Sirianni didn’t hold back, calling him a phenomenal coach and someone he has a lot of respect for. They lived close to each other when they were coaching together in Indy, and their families got to know each other, so it’s neat that they are both now in these positions.