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Nick Sirianni talks development of DeVonta Smith and Miles Sanders this season

The Eagles head coach also talks about his history with Giants’head coach Brian Daboll.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters the day after their huge win over the Titans and talked about the offense’s versatility and the development of guys like DeVonta Smith and Miles Sanders. He also talked about the improvements on special teams, why James Bradberry is such a good player, and gave a look into his past with Giants head coach Brian Daboll.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

On the offense’s versatility

With Dallas Goedert out, they’ve gotten guys involved in different ways — Quez Watkins has seen more targets, snaps for Grant Calcaterra and Jack Stoll, and more passes to the running backs. Sirianni acknowledges that there’s still only one football to pass around, so when Goedert is back, they’ll certainly want to get him involved, but it is nice to have other options.

Sirianni was asked about DeVonta Smith and where he’s improved the most in his second year, and the head coach explained that the WR is naturally skilled at the positions and is both fundamentally sound and savvy with his routes. Since he’s been in Philly, Smith has just gained more knowledge and continued to develop the things he already did well.

“Where I think he’s taken a step is he has this outside — he’s a phenomenal outside receiver who has this feel to be able to go inside and just have a feel for inside because it’s a lot different inside. Outside you have to do a couple things. You have to beat the guy and you have to beat the leverages, you have to identify different coverages but inside you’ve got to feel everything. There are more guys in there to feel around and so he has a good feel for that because he has such good football IQ.”

Another player who has made strides this season is running back Miles Sanders, who is closing in on 1,000 yards. Sirianni said that Sanders has been really good at taking care of the football and at picking up pressures — he noted that those two things aren’t directly related to his yardage, but they do speak to the development of his game overall.

“He just keeps getting better and getting better and better. We all know how explosive he is and how good of a football player he is, but he’s just really taking advantage of all his opportunities. For example, yesterday, there wasn’t a lot of opportunities, but he took advantage of the ones he got. The week before there was a lot of opportunities for him and he took advantage of the ones he got.”

Sirianni also mentioned that Sanders has stayed healthy this year, which is obviously different than last year, which certainly affected his production.

On CB James Bradberry

“He’s been on fire. I really think that he just sees the field well. He makes the play when the play comes to him, and I just think that he’s just been a great veteran help to the defense, been a really good complement on the other side to [Darius] Slay. He’s steady, he’s a pro. He doesn’t say much but he goes out and does his job every day and he leads by example.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know James [Bradberry], and you see why he’s been the type of pro that he’s been when you see his work habits every single day, of how he goes about preparing for an opponent and how he goes about preparing for a wide receiver. He’s a really good corner and not only because he has great, great talent but also because he has great, great preparation, great football IQ and great toughness and I’m sure glad he’s an Eagle.”

On special teams improvements

The head coach didn’t want to talk about the tweaks they made to their scheme heading into the Tennessee matchup, but said that they guys came ready to play and the coaches put them in a good spot to do different things.

“There were a number of guys that made plays. It wasn’t just one guy. It was a full team. Just like it was full team defense yesterday on display, it was full team special teams defense, and return game going on out there. A bunch of guys made that thing go and that’s what football is, it’s a great team sport and it takes all 11 to make it go.”

On Nakobe Dean

Rookie linebacker Nakobe Dean had some more opportunities to play on defense Sunday when Kyzir White left the game, and Sirianni said that they thought he played well.

“I think that started in his special teams reps. He had that hit at the beginning of the second half that really established the physicality that we wanted to play with and that we were coming out again in the second half to play physical and Nakobe really started things off.

And when he was in there, he did a nice job and that’s what we would anticipate of our first guy in. If one of those guys were to get hurt and miss some time like Kyzir had to in the second half, we have a lot of faith in Nakobe to come in and make a play. We’re really happy with our depth there.”

On preparing for the Giants

Sirianni admitted that he hasn’t delved too deep into the Giants film yet — Monday’s are their time to evaluate their own performance from the day before. But he does know that the Giants’ style of defense can create a lot of issues and they have to be on their game and make sure they have plays that can block their blitzes.

“They are well-coached and they have good players, so we’re going to have be to on it. The scheme that they have is really challenging. There will be a lot of time that we will spend here in the office like every week to make sure that we have a plan for these guys and put our players in position to make plays.”

Sirianni talked a bit about his history with Giants’ head coach Brian Daboll, with the two working together for a year in Kansas City. It was Sirianni’s first year as a position coach, and Daboll was their coordinator, and while it wasn’t a great year statistically or record-wise, he learned a lot from Daboll, particularly about the defensive side of the ball.

“I think what Coach Daboll did was really, I always felt like he took me under his wing and said, I’m going to really help this guy. I really felt that way about myself and Jim Bob Cooter, we were there together, he really took us under his wing and wanted to teach us as much as he possibly could because I think he always would say, he saw something in us and he really wanted to contribute to our success as coaches. And he did that. He’s just such a smart coach.”

He went on to say that they bonded a lot of over wide receiver play and the pass game, but the conversations they had about wide receivers really stood out. Sirianni felt like Daboll really helped elevate him as a coach with the things he passed down, so he has a lot of respect for him.

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