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Nick Sirianni talks Eagles preparation ahead of the NFC Championship Game

The Eagles head coach has talked to the team about climbing the mountain this whole season, and now that they’re close to the top, they need to stay more focused than ever on taking things one step at a time.

Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Wednesday ahead of practice and gave some injury updates, talked about how the team is staying focused this week despite the big implications, and why Jalen Hurts is the ultimate competitor.

Sirianni mentioned what we later saw, that everyone was a participant in practice on Wednesday, and the only players limited were Lane Johnson and Avonte Maddox. He said Johnson is still day-to-day, and while he didn’t want to comment on how the right tackle was feeling, other than assuming a bit sore, he was happy the lineman came out of the Giants game clean. While A.J. Brown wasn’t mentioned on the injury report, the head coach said that he was hoping both Brown and Maddox would be able to play on Sunday.

Here’s what else the head coach had to say:

On their preparation this week

Sirianni is as consistent now as he’s been all season, emphasizing the importance of sticking to their process — something that admittedly is tweaked and evolves over time, but ultimately stays the same every week regardless of the opponent or stage. He mentioned that there are so many things that can make a game bigger than it is, so the Eagles have always remained focused on taking it one day at a time, one step at a time, toward their goal.

“It’s our next game and it’s our next opportunity to play for each other. Again, you go through your process of everything.

We’re in Philly, first of all. The pressure, again, I’ve told this story a thousand times, right. Last year, right, it’s okay; we’re in a rebuilding year. We were in that first pre-season game and we were getting drummed at halftime and we were getting booed, so we know the expectations here and we know our expectations. It’s the expectations of this great city and this great fan base, but it’s also our expectations. We don’t get to this point in our profession with saying, hey, not every game is important and every practice isn’t important.

Like we’re here for a reason. It’s because we have that competitive drive. And then when your main goal of every week is to improve and to not let your guy down next to you and to make sure that you’re doing your job because you love your teammate, you love your players, then that’s all the motivation you need.

And that’s a lot. When you’re playing, again, I’ve said the greatest motivation is love. It 100% is. So when you’re playing for your teammates and you are coaching for your players and your players are playing for their coaches, there is no greater motivation.

And that’s high pressure. That’s every week and that’s every day of our preparation.”

On utilizing the veterans in this moment

Sirianni talked about having guys like Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Lane Johnson and how those pillars on both the offense and defensive lines have been invaluable, especially last year in his first season as a head coach. These guys have been to the mountaintop, played for 10-plus years, and have won a Super Bowl.

Those veterans are great leaders, and know what it takes to be successful and continue the climb. Sirianni said that those four really lead the way with how they practice, prepare, and play. They’ve also all been in the NFC Championship game before, something not many others on the roster have done – although, he pointed out that many have been in really big college games, and do have experience on this kind of stage.

As for how the moment affects those who haven’t been here before, he mentioned a quote that Frank Reich used to stress, “No man suddenly becomes different than his cherished thoughts and habits.” Sirianni explained that no one suddenly becomes different than they’ve been the whole time, and so from his perspective, every game has been just as important as the one they are about to play, and they are staying true to their process and preparation.

“So when your focus is that for 17 or 18 weeks or whatever week we’re on right now — it’s been a long season, whatever it is — your focus doesn’t change because the situation or the game around you or the opponent changes. You still focus on one step at a time.

The higher you climb on the mountain, and this is an analogy of a mountain and this is an analogy of a football team. I get it. It gets windier, right? The conditions get tougher, it gets a little steeper, it gets a little harder to breathe.

So now what an unbelievable time to just focus on the next step and the next step and the next step and don’t look up. I got kind of goosebumps thinking about that because that’s what we’ve been doing all year. That’s just what we do and no man suddenly becomes different than his cherished thoughts and habits.”

On Jalen Hurts’ desire to win

Sirianni couldn’t say enough good things about his QB and his competitive nature. He mentioned that Hurts is always in the building, and growing up in a football family, that kind of commitment is in his DNA. The head coach said that Hurts is “obsessed” with getting better, but the thing he admires most about the QB is that he doesn’t allow the waves of the season dictate his next move. Sirianni credits that with Hurts’ even-keeled demeanor.

That demeanor is a big part of Hurts’ will to win. The head coach described the quarterback coming off a big game, but having a look in his eyes, that he can do even more, and he’ll improve from it.

Those traits are what makes him liken Hurts to the greats like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. That desire to get better and to be the best.

“He’s obsessed with it. I can’t say it enough. It’s probably hard for me to completely explain exactly how obsessed he is, but I think that’s why he is like this. I’m just like, I’m going to get better from this. It’s an excitement. He’s special.”

Other notables

“Yeah, shoot, his body of work speaks for itself. He’s had a phenomenal year. Now, I get to watch it, I’m biased, right, and I get to watch every one of his games and correct every one of his games. Obviously, I know there is other players that have been playing good as well.

Again, I think Jalen [Hurts] is going to say the same thing. Yeah, awards are nice, but we have much bigger team goals in mind. And I hope Jalen wins it, right, because you want that for your players. He’s had a great year. But I know there is other people deserving as well. He’s just going to continue to go about his business and get ready for this next game.”

  • The head coach was asked about the now-viral shot of him mugging for the camera in the first half against the Giants, and Sirianni shrugged it off as just part of his personality. He told stories of how he’s been trash talking and mean-mugging since his high school and college days, and he’s not worried about anyone else other than his team. When asked for which player reminds him most of himself, Sirianni pointed to C.J. Gardner-Johnson — someone he said last week talks a lot of shit at practice.
  • Sirianni didn’t want to publicize what Jeffrey Lurie said to the team or to him after the win over the Giants, but said that they talk often and Lurie always notes how much he believes in the team and how he’ll do whatever he can to help them do their jobs.

“Want to make sure that I do my best job for a guy that’s giving me everything he’s got. I’m going to give him everything I got.”

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