The Eagles were back to work on Tuesday and head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters about potential play-calling changes, concerns with turnovers, and their defensive struggles.
Sirianni mentioned that he often calls football the greatest team sport, and is usually talking about the positives, but that’s also true when things aren’t going so great. It’s a team sport, so it wouldn’t be right of him to single anybody out when asked about certain deficiencies.
Here’s what else the head coach had to say:
On potential staff changes
Sirianni was asked if he was considering any coaching changes this week, particularly taking over play calling duties to give the offense a spark, and the head coach was confident and succinct, “No.”
He was asked to elaborate, and spoke about confidence with the people and roles they have.
“I feel good with the people that we have in this building. We’re 10-3, we’re in control of our own destiny, and we’re gonna keep rolling and finding answers with the people that we have.”
On offensive targets
When asked how they can better spread the ball around to other guys like Julio Jones and Quez Watkins, Sirianni noted that their offense runs through three guys (A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert).
“That doesn’t mean you don’t want to get the ball to some other guys here and there, but the main passing game goes through those guys.
The Cowboys and the style of defense they run, which is obviously a very good defense, allows you to kind of get the ball to where we were going with it, and that’s where the ball was designed to go.
Has nothing to do with anything else. Just, we wanted to get A.J. [Brown] going. We wanted to get Devonta [Smith] and Dallas [Goedert] the ball.”
Sirianni explained that he’s always been upfront about the fact that the offense runs through those three guys, and they didn’t coach or play well enough on offense against Dallas, but the targets for those guys was by design.
The head coach addressed rumors that some players inside the locker room felt like the offense had become predictable, but Sirianni said that the coaches don’t feel that way, and they’ll continue to work on meshing things so that they aren’t giving anything away.
He talked about some of their struggles with turnovers right now, noting a stat he saw showing at this point last year, the Eagles were +14, and this season they’re -4, which is a huge difference.
The head coach admitted that sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce you’re way, but they’re looking for all the answers and doubling down on the things they know to be true and the work they do — like starting every practice with a ball security/takeaway drill, and situational Saturday discussions.
Sirianni later talked about Jalen Hurts recording a fumble in the last seven games, but noted some of those are the result of him touching the ball every play — if there’s a bad handoff, it’s on the QB, etc... Still, the head coach admitted that Hurts’ fumble against the Cowboys was one the quarterback wanted back, and they have to do a better job protecting the football in those situations — Hurts has to protect it better going to the ground, and they have to coach it better and come up with different simulations in practice.
On turning the defense around
The head coach said that he has “total confidence” that DC Sean Desai will be able to get things fixed on the defensive side of the ball, that’s why he was hired.
As for what he sees as the biggest issue right now, Sirianni pointed to yards building up when they allow third down conversions. He said that includes everything from the top down — they have to coach it better, they have to detail things out for players better, and then the players have to execute better.
Sirianni was asked about the defensive players maybe being tired from so many snaps these past few weeks, but he didn’t want to use that as any kind of excuse. He noted that everyone in the NFL is tired at this point in the season, it’s a long season for a very physically demanding sport.
“I’ll take full responsibility. If our guys are tired, or played tired, that’s full responsibility on me. Like I said, last week I felt like I could’ve done a better job [giving guys rest].”
Rookies Kelee Ringo and Nolan Smith played a career-high defensive snaps on Sunday, and Sirianni acknowledged that at this point of the season, they’re working on rotating more guys to keep guys fresh. So those additional snaps for Ringo and Smith were planned.
He also pointed out that Ringo has done a really good job for them on special teams, earning their player of the week, and has done nicely at practice having to go against A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, so the CB earned that opportunity. Sirianni said that aside from the big catch by Michael Gallup on third down, and the PI penalty, Ringo had a big play and decent game.
- Sirianni mentioned post-game on Sunday that they need to start faster as coaches, as well, and explained further on Tuesday that there certain things coaches need to do early on as they gather information. He said there are different answers to that problem, but last year they were able to do something on first drives and in the second quarter, so they need to get back to that.
- He was asked about fans getting more personal outside the facility this week with the trash cans for Darius Slay and James Bradberry, and a fire Desai sign. Sirianni admitted that it makes him upset, but he also understands the fan base and said that they know what they signed up for, “We’re big boys, we can handle it.”