Head coach Nick Sirianni spoke with reporters on Thursday for the last time before the Eagles host the Giants in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. He talked about the importance of protecting a lead in the NFL, including the postseason, and his messaging to the team this week.
“We’ve had a good week of practice, good week of walk-through, good week of meeting. Business as usual. I just know our guys are professionals and come out and do their business everyday to make sure they’re ready to play.”
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On Lane Johnson
“He had a good practice [Wednesday], and he’s still — we feel good about it, and you’ll see the injury report today. He’s gonna go again [Thursday], and so we’ll see how he gets through today, but we’re really hopeful.”
On close playoff games
Sirianni said that they know that situations pop up in close games, but throughout the season the Eagles have typically done a good job protecting their leads — specifically of 10 points or more. The head coach didn’t want to get into the formula they use in the second half, but maintaining their leads is always on their minds.
“We always know that the playoff football can be close — I guess, closer games — but, in the NFL, all games are close. So, you’re grinding and working on this at all times during the year to make sure that you aren’t giving up a big lead, and that you go through your process when you’re down two scores or when you’re up two scores. And so, there’s a formula. We have a formula for everything. That doesn’t mean you blindly follow at all times, you have a feel.”
He referenced earlier in the season when he reached out to Tony Dungy to see what made the former head coach so successful when he had a two-score lead. Sirianni noted that it’s something they’ve been thinking about all year.
On C.J. Gardner-Johnson
Sirianni was asked about the energy that CJGJ brings to practice, and with a big smile the head coach talked about the defender talking trash to both teammates and coaches.
“He’s going to talk. He doesn’t just talk to the players, he talks to me sometimes, too. And I have to always tell him, ‘Chauncey, listen, I’m the head football coach.’ Like, I’m for the defense and the offense, here. I know I’m standing over on the offensive side, but you’re over there talking shit to me — pardon me. You’re over there talking shit to me, I’m on both of your guys’ side.
But, he brings great energy. He brings great energy to the meeting room. He brings great energy to the football field. What I believe it is, is that he loves the game of football and he truly is out there and enjoying himself, bringing great energy.”
Sirianni went on to say that even during the season and on the sideline after a play or after a win, he remember celebrating with CJGJ and just that energy and positivity he brings. The head coach said that he’s so glad the defender is on their team, and is back to healthy and at work everyday — Sirianni said he missed CJGJ when he was gone.
On his messaging to the team
Sirianni said that they talked a lot this week and last about what they do well, and how they can continue to do those things. He explained that it’s always about going back to the fundamentals and going back to the details of a play and how they want it to be executed. They’re doubling down on the things they know are true.
The head coach took that approach last year when they were on a losing streak, too. Sure, there are a lot of things that can change and ways they can adapt to either improve or continue to have success, but the base of everything are those non-negotiables core values — connecting, competing, accountability, football IQ, and fundamentals. Those are the things they know to be true, and so whatever the case, those are the things they double down on.
During the bye week, the coaches were able to really sit down and identify the things they do well, and the things that weren’t working, and then double down on the things that worked.
“Just like you do that on your scheme, you do the same thing on your culture.”
Sirianni said that there wasn’t any one particular game that they went back to look at, but rather have just continued to get better in a way that lets them to continue to build off of all their successes during the season.
“It’s not like we’re just getting better because we’re here. No, we’re getting better because we practice hard. This team practices hard.”