Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Wednesday for the first time since the Damar Hamlin tragedy on Monday night. He spoke about how the team made sure there were resources available for the players, as well as how they balance having tough conversations with getting prepared to play a game on Sunday.
Sirianni also talked about the team’s use of the QB sneak, why Gardner Minshew was sacked six times against the Saints, and also gave some injury updates.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On Damar Hamlin and how it affected the team
Sirianni explained that whenever something happens outside of their building that requires discussion, they do that, and make sure the guys know that they have people who care about them and people they can talk to, if needed.
The head coach emphasized that obviously everyone just felt for Hamlin and his family and are praying for a speedy recovery.
“The first thing you do when you see that, it’s just shock. You don’t see that very often, so it just shocks you.
A lot of emotions and things are going through your mind. My first was as a football coach and as a former football player what was going through my mind. Then my thought process turned into how do I mentor 80 guys through a tough situation like this? Then it turned into, well, my son plays football.
There are just a lot of emotions that you have to go through, but to me it is just the support aspect of it. The last thing on my mind is how do I convince them that, like you said, they have to go out and play.
We’re just here for them right now and trying to just be there for them, and this is an opportunity for us to practice what we preach. Do we really believe the connecting thing, or is it all just BS? This is our opportunity to not only say we’re there for you guys, but also be there for them.
So that’s all we care about is that they know that they have a lot of people. All the guys, anybody that’s suffering through this mentally, knows that they have people in this building that care. First of all, they have the resources in this building to be able to talk through things if they need to talk through things with all the different people that we have. But then also they have their teammates and their coaches and a front office that deeply care about these guys.
Just like we do anything, just do it together and get through this tough time. There have been other things that we’ve had these things in these past couple of years as well that you just go through, you have tough conversations, and you go through it, but at the end of the day you just want them to know that you’re there for them and that you’ll do anything you can do.
Then one thing that we talked about was, hey, there are a lot of perks to this game. This game gives us a lot of different things, and we’re completely grateful for those things, but the best perk it gives us are the relationships. If you ask somebody, if you ask a player or a coach who is no longer involved in the game, of course, we’ll be able to rattle off some wins or some plays or whatever, some cool restaurant in Philly that we ate at or anything like that, but the first thing that’s going to come to everybody’s mind is the relationships.
So that’s what you have hoped you’ve built to this point so you can help guys through a tough time.”
Sirianni said that he hasn’t sensed any kind of hesitancy from any of the players as far as getting back out onto the field, but he was honest that they haven’t really talked about that quite yet as they still try to work through their emotions of what happened. He also admitted that it’s a tough balance to have those conversations and then turn to getting ready to play a football game, but said that you just have to do it and transition to the next thing as best you can.
On utilizing QB sneaks
It was pointed out that the Eagles are using the QB sneak more than any other team has since 2000 — the Eagles have run it 30 times this year. Sirianni said that execution breeds confidence, and while he noted that they didn’t get the one on against the Saints, they have a lot of trust in those guys in that scenario.
He emphasized that it starts with the three guys up front, and when you have Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo, and Landon Dickerson pushing the way, plus the QB getting through, they have a lot of confidence in the play call — they’ve scored a lot of touchdowns on it and made a lot of third down conversions.
“As far as the pure sheer number of it we’ve been pretty good on first and second downs, obviously with the exception of the last game, but we’ve been pretty good on first and second down where we’re putting ourselves in positions to run these plays because we have a lot of short yardage plays.
So, the sheer number of it of why they’re so high is because we’ve been in a lot of goal-to-goal situations. We’ve been in a lot of short-yardage situations, and that’s where we’ve been comfortable running those plays. So that’s a credit to the guys of what they’ve done on first and second down is why the sheer number of it.”
On Gardner Minshew being sacked 6 times in Week 17
Sirianni was asked about the offensive line allowing six sacks against the Saints, and whether he attributed that to Lane Johnson being out or Minshew holding onto the ball. He explained that there’s plenty of blame to go around, including the coaches.
“It’s the best team game there is, and so it truly takes all 11 to do it, and it takes us as coaches too to put them in the right spot. So, a ton of blame to go around for that, and it starts with us as coaches to make sure that we help guys get open in those senses.
I thought Jack [Driscoll] did a nice job coming in and playing against a player that’s a good player, and he fought, and he is going to get better from this, so no complaints there with Jack.”
Sirianni said that Hurts is still day-to-day, and they don’t have to make a decision about whether he’ll play on Sunday just yet. He explained that they’ll see how he does over the next couple days, particularly on Thursday when they are actually practicing versus a walk-through.
“Obviously, we all know what happened to him on Sunday, but it was good to see him back in here today and a smile on his face. Probably going to be bugging me to play. We’ll see, but we’ll take that day-by-day. I’m glad he is back in the building with his teammates.”
- Sirianni explained that they are opening the practice window on Wednesday for both C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Robert Quinn.
- Avonte Maddox is still day-to-day and has been in the building rehabbing, but he didn’t want to put a timetable on his return.