Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni spoke with reporters on Wednesday and gave some insight into some of the injured players on the roster and how they work with the front office and medical staff to make decisions about whether someone is ready to get back on the field. He emphasized putting players ahead of the team when it comes to health, and making the best choices for the player.
He also talked a bit about the seven turnovers they’ve had the last two games, and how they’ve addressed things with Miles Sanders. Sirianni also had high praise for DeVonta Smith and some of the impressive catches he had on Saturday against the Cowboys.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On injured players
“He’s one of the toughest guys we’ve ever been around, and obviously, says a lot about how he cares about his teammates, who he is as a teammate — and you know he’s in pain —, that he’s going to do whatever he needs to do to get ready to play.”
Sirianni went on to say that his decision to postpone surgery until after the postseason speaks to toughness and how much his teammates mean to him. Still, he acknowledged that he’ll be missed these next few games and anytime they’re without one of their best players — Sirianni also called Johnson the best tackle in the whole NFL —, you’ll notice his absence. But, the head coach said they do have faith in the guys behind him.
He also wouldn’t confirm that Johnson would be back in time for the postseason, noting that anything can happen between now and then, so they’ll see where things are at when they get to that point.
The head coach said, “we’ll see,” as far as the quarterback’s availability on Sunday. They’ll see how he progresses throughout the week, and if he heals enough, he’ll play. Sirianni was non-committal about whether the QB would participate in the team’s walk-thru on Wednesday.
C.J. is feeling better and around the facility. They’ll still have to see how he does at practice and see how things are healing before knowing when he’ll be back on the field, but he is recovering well.
On handling injuries
Sirianni later explained how they deal with injuries and the discussions they make with players, noting that Johnson would describe how he’s doing, the doctors and training staff evaluate things, and they all discuss options and whether things could get worse, and how. At that point, Sirianni, Howie Roseman, and the doctors sit down and make a decision that’s best for the player.
He emphasized that they would never sacrifice the individual player’s needs over the team, so they always make decisions that put the player’s health and safety first. In an effort to make his point, Sirianni brought up Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel who encouraged QB Tua Tagovailoa to get checked before ultimately being diagnosed with a concussion. Sirianni said that McDaniel put Tua first when making that decision.
On turnovers vs. Dallas
Sirianni admitted that the Eagles having seven turnovers in two games is frustrating.
“First of all, you’re pissed. You’re pissed because it always starts with us as coaches, we’re always going to look at ourselves first, 100 percent of the time. So, we’re going to make some adjustments of how we drill it. We did this same thing after the Washington game. We were drilling it a certain way and we added a little more reps to how we drilled it, and we’re going to do the same thing this time.”
The head coach went on to say that their approach to correcting turnovers is to see what the coaches can do to put the players in a better position and also what fundamentals do they need to teach them to help them be better at that.
“Again, I give the Cowboys credit. I give the teams that are able to force us into turnovers credit because they’re forcing them, too, but we’ve just got to be better at coaching and we’ve got to go out and execute the little bit of different fundamentals and the additional work that we’re doing.”
Sirianni also talked about how he approached Miles Sanders, who was pretty upset after fumbling the ball against the Cowboys — making it two games in a row with a fumble after 13 games without one. The head coach explained that he treats every player differently, and part of the reason he stresses connecting with each other, is so that the coaches know how best to work with the players.
“Two things, that you get better from it and the player knows that you believe in him still.
Obviously Miles [Sanders] has had a tremendous year. He’s done unbelievable things this year, career year for him. We sure as hell still believe in him, and I know he believes in himself still.”
On DeVonta Smith’s performance Saturday
Sirianni was all praise for Smith and the job he did against the Cowboys. He couldn’t get over the amazing catch Smith made on the sideline, and how he was able to get both feet down and still twist his upper body to grab the football. But, the head coach pointed out, that wasn’t Smith’s only big catch of the game, citing the one he snagged in the two-minute drill, the pass he jumped up to catch, and the catch he made knowing the corner and safety were about to crush him.
“What’s so amazing about it is he’s doing it in all these different ways. He made some unbelievable catches, and he continues to do so throughout the year and throughout the last two years we’ve been there.”
He went on to explain how they rep those sideline catches and try to put him in a position to be really aware of where his feet are and drag them as needed. They do that as much as they can, but a lot of it is also instinct, and Smith knows where he is and how to feel that.
“The other thing people don’t even talk about is he catches it, boom, and then how many times have we seen a receiver fall to the ground like this and the ball pops out. That one on the sideline not only does he know where his feet are, not only does he turn his body in a freaky way, but he also gets to his back where the ball won’t pop out, which again, they’re all things that you teach, but you have to go out and do it. So, there’s a ton of instincts, and that’s what I’ve always admired about DeVonta [Smith] is how instinctive of a football player he is, how high his football IQ is, all those things.”
On preparing for the Saints
Sirianni said that there’s no doubt New Orleans has very unique playmakes on offense, including RB Alvin Kamara, TE Taysom Hill, and WR Chris Olave, plus the head coach mentioned he’s always respected QB Andy Dalton.
“As far as the defense goes, a Dennis Allen-coached defense has always been a good defense. A lot of respect for Coach Allen, and then the players that they have over there, they have good playmakers. They have good guys along the front. No. 56, [DeMario] Davis, has been good for a really long time. He’s an outstanding player. He knows how to get his guys lined up. He runs the show over there like so many good MIKE linebackers that the NFL has seen. You can just see him doing those same types of things.
[Pete] Werner, I’ve got a lot of respect for him, No. 20, the linebacker that plays with him. Christian Elliss’ brother plays on that team, and he makes a lot of plays, No. 55. Tyrann Mathieu, you’ve always got to be alert for where he is on the field. I think 29 is playing really good football at corner, from Stanford. He’s long, he’s got the ability to get in and out of the breaks. He’s physical. We know that about him.”