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Nick Sirianni talks Eagles signing Shaq Leonard

The Eagles head coach spoke to reporters on Monday about their defensive struggles against the 49ers, needing to do better with the run game, and adding Shaq Leonard to the roster.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni was back to work on Monday, and after reviewing the tape of the loss to the 49ers, had a little more insight into some of the defensive struggles, as well as the lack of the run game by the offense. He also spoke to reporters about Shaquille Leonard choosing to sign with the Eagles, and why he’s a good depth addition to the existing LB group.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:


On signing Shaq Leonard

“Obviously really excited about that. We just feel like he adds that depth to our team with some of the injuries that we’ve had there.

With that being said, I did think Christian Elliss played a good game yesterday. But he just gives us some more depth there through a place where we’ve had some injuries, unfortunate injuries.”

Sirianni went on to talk about all of the great relationships he has with people over at the Colts organization, and the relationship he has with Leonard, saying that they’re confident in the player and person that they are getting.

He was able to reach out to former Eagles OC Shane Steichen, now Indy’s head coach, and other defensive coaches over there that he knows, but Sirianni also relied on his first-hard experience with Leonard, along with the other guys on staff that know him. When the head coach FaceTimed Leonard last week, he passed the phone around to Marcus Brady, Jason Michael, and Kevin Patullo, coaches who all have a relationship with the linebacker.

“We know we’re getting the right person, right leader, with all that. And we still have confidence from the tape that he still can play, and he’s been a high-level player in this league for a very long time; ’18, his first year in. That’s a long time to be — three-time all-pro player. Still has a knack to take the ball away. Still has that knack to run and hit the ball carrier. Still has the length that he had to make throws hard in the passing lane.”

Despite his excitement, Sirianni was sure to point out that he’s still likes the linebackers they already had on the roster — even after their mediocre performance on Sunday —, but Leonard will be a good addition.

The head coach was asked if Leonard will play on Sunday against the Cowboys, but Sirianni didn’t want to put any expectations on the LB before he even got to the building. He knows that Leonard is smart and works hard, but they have to see what the game plan entails and make sure they’re fair in what they ask of him to do.

On the defensive struggles in Week 13

Sirianni was asked about the 49ers having a lot of yards after catch on Sunday, and the head coach pointed to them doing a good job of getting guys the ball in space. He credited Kyle Shanahan for making some good calls that caught the Eagles off-guard, like a screen to Deebo Samuel when the Eagles were trying to sell out for the run.

“First of all, that happened, which accounted for a lot of yards, and then I think it was just some uncharacteristic missed tackles. A tackle is kind of like when you drop a ball, right? To put it on the offensive analogy, when you drop a ball, the coaching point isn’t to say, ‘catch it.’ You tell them how to catch it, right, what went wrong.”

He went on to explain that there were some fundamental things, like them lunging at guys that are good with the ball in their hands, rather than running up to the guy and breaking their feet down. They call that long stride, short stride, and that happened a couple times.

Some players mentioned that the defensive call put players in tough spots, notably with all the pre-snap and at-the-snap motions. Sirianni said that the main thing is making sure they are very detailed in coaching the job requirement for each guy, and making sure they know what to do against certain looks.

“Against a team that does a lot like that is just to make sure everybody is on the same page. I think that’s where we just didn’t do a good enough job of just making sure everyone was on the same page as far as, ‘hey, all the little different things to the different motions they could do.’

We just have to put the players in better positions to succeed. When I say that, I knew what the plan was, I knew what we were going through. That’s not by any means anything at Sean [Desai]. That’s me. I’m looking at myself in the mirror saying, ‘well, maybe this was too much here in this one. We’ve got to describe this one out a little bit more here.’”

On the lack of run game

Sirianni talked about Kenny Gainwell getting more snaps than D’Andre Swift, noting that Gainwell has been their two-minute and third-down back, and they were in more of those situations on Sunday which resulted in those kinds of numbers.

“As far as the run game, we know we have to establish the run game and we have to be better in the run game. We just have things that where you get on the positive side – there were a couple times where we got behind the sticks. Doesn’t mean you still can’t run in that situation.

But we have to be better as coaches devoting ourselves to the run game to take pressure off everybody. So, yeah, as we looked at it yesterday, there is no doubt that we have to do that.”

Other notables

  • Sirianni noted that he did go over and talk to Kyle Shanahan after the game just to say that they respect his team and discuss the situation that led to Big Dom and Dre Greenlaw ejected. The head coach also said that he hasn’t heard anything from the league about Big Dom’s involvement, but knows that the head of security was just trying to diffuse the situation and it got out of hand.

“I’m sad that it came to what it came to, that anybody got thrown out of the game. The play was what it was. There was a lot of emotion in that game. I’ve seen Dom have to do that before where he’s trying to diffuse the situation. Again, that’s what he does. Yeah, I know where his heart is and it’s truly to diffuse the situation and to stop what was going on, on the sideline.”

  • He was asked about the two Brotherly Shove plays that resulted in a touchdown, and Chase Young pulling Jalen Hurts down by the collar, and then A.J. Brown and Charvarius Ward shoving back and forth. The head coach noted that Young’s play was legal, and Ward’s reaction was something they’ve seen before, so he knows guys are going to play tough, but doesn’t think anything cheap is going on against them in those situations.

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