The Eagles’ season came to an unceremonious end following their loss in the Super Bowl, but now, several days later — and a few coordinators shorter — GM Howie Roseman and head coach Nick Sirianni sat down for one last media session of the season.
Sirianni talked about some of the decisions that have been questioned since Sunday’s big game, as well as what he’s looking for in a new offensive and defensive coordinator. He also confirmed that Michael Clay will be back in his role as Special Teams Coordinator next season.
Roseman, for his part, talked a little about Jalen Hurts’ new contract, and emphasized that it’s a priority for the team this offseason. He also noted that they were prepared for that eventuality and how it would affect the rather long list of free agents they have, as well.
Here’s what they had to say:
On the decision to punt on 4th-and-3
A lot has been made of Sirianni’s decision to punt, but the head coach said he has no regrets thinking back on the decision.
SIRIANNI: “I know I’ve been aggressive all year going for it. Really trust our guys in scenarios. I think fourth-and-3, on your own 30, what was it, 33? Yeah, I think you would get 32 out of 32 NFL coaches saying they punt that ball every time, 32 out of 32.
Hey, if I had known they were going to return it to the 4, in hindsight, I think obviously I would have gone for it there. But no regrets there on that. That is not in my thought process right there.”
He noted that the fact that they were in a one-point game at that point affected his decision, and had they been up by two scores that would have been differently. Sirianni said he was surprised that the punt was even a talking point until the team’s communication director prepped him for the question.
As for the punt itself, the head coach said that punter Arryn Siposs didn’t get the punt he wanted and it had a long hang time. Sirianni gave a lot of credit to Kadarius Toney for the return, and also mentioned that there were a few missed tackles. As always, though, Sirianni took responsibility for those missed tackles, along with the coaches, who need to do a better job of teaching the fundamentals needed to make those stops.
On the second-half defense
Sirianni talked about some of the adjustments the Chiefs made in the second-half and noted that they were able to stay on the field more than in the first half and were able to convert on third down. He pointed out that the roles kind of flipped with how the Eagles offense was able to control the clock before halftime, but didn’t get as many opportunities after.
“SIRIANNI: So that’s what I would contribute kind of the swing of the halves was the situational football on third down and also the run game.”
The head coach later talked about the two touchdowns scored by Toney and Skyy Moore, and said that the defense was in two different coverages, and they were two different plays. He noted that there was an execution error on the first touchdown, but was sure to emphasize that while that error happened on the field, it also indicates the need to do a better job coaching
“SIRIANNI: The second one, they got us. And you’re like, ‘Well, how did they get us when they already did it?’ We were in a completely different coverage, a completely different scheme that we were doing.
We were running to catch up with the motion and he fell back and ended up scoring on the play.
But what also doesn’t go into play either is that a lot of times that we’ve adjusted with that motion and the way we’ve done that has helped us a lot in the red zone as well.
Credit to them of finding a way to attack it. Again, it was two different coverages that they did. Credit to them to going back to something that worked for them as well.”
On Eagles coaching changes
Sirianni talked about losing both OC Shane Steichen and DC Jonathan Gannon, and said that while it’s tough to lose them, he does take the responsibility of developing his coaches — just like his players — personally.
“SIRIANNI: So constantly want, from our position coaches to our coordinators, all the way to our quality control coaches and assistant position coaches, I want them involved in everything. And I try to give them things that helped me throughout my career. That’s my job as the head coach.”
The head coach elaborated that Steichen and Gannon were success, not only because they are good coaches, but because the assistants under them are good coaches, as well. That means, of course, that they have some good in-house options to fill those roles, but they will be looking at every option to make sure they are doing what’s best for the team.
“SIRIANNI: But I do believe we have great options in-house, because when you’re grinding to put together a staff, you’re not just grinding to put together the offensive and defensive coordinators. As a matter of fact, really the offensive and defensive coordinator, when you [Howie Roseman] hired me, we knew who we were hiring at those spots.”
Sirianni was asked about whether he would look for a defensive coordinator with similar schematic preferences. He explained that he has some core preferences on defenses, like winning the turnover battle and limiting explosive plays, and will look for someone to fill the DC role that matches his preferences. But, the head acknowledged that the defense will naturally look different with someone else at the helm.
He said that there wouldn’t really be as many changes with the new OC since he’ll still be choosing the type of offense they’ll be running, but Sirianni doesn’t intend to take back playcalling duties. The head coach explained that he liked how not calling plays allowed him to manage the game overall better.
Quarterback coach Brian Johnson has been rumored to be the top candidate to replace Steichen, and Sirianni credited Johnson’s way of connecting with the players — one of his core values — and particularly his long relationship with QB Jalen Hurts.
“SIRIANNI: Coaches have to have two things. They have to be able to — position coaches, first and foremost, have to be able to get their players better as players. They have to be able to take them a level here to a higher level that they can’t reach without the coaching of that individual.
And that happens through fundamentals and being able to explain the plan, being able to explain the offense to make it easier for that player to understand and to execute.
Brian does a great job of that. And Brian is also very gifted in the sense of helping be able to scheme, even though he wasn’t the offensive coordinator last year, he still helps a great deal with our schemes and the way we’re attacking defenses in the run game, in the pass game, in the protection world, in situationals.”
Sirianni also confirmed that special teams coordinator Michael Clay will be back with the team next season. He said that Clay made some improvements throughout the season, and while the Chiefs certainly got the best of them in the Super Bowl, Sirianni was sure to point out that it’s never about just one play.
On Jalen Hurts’ contract talks
Howie Roseman said that he would keep all the contract talks internal, but said that they are focused on keeping good players on the team for the long term, and Hurts is certainly one of their best players. He implied that they have a good sense of what they need to do to get a deal done, but said they have some time — although, he emphasized for a second time that they want to keep their best players and Hurts is one of them.
ROSEMAN: “You’ve got to look at the individual player, and that’s not to be critical to anyone we’ve given a contract to that hasn’t worked out. But I think when we talk about Jalen, we’re talking about a guy we have tremendous confidence in, a guy that we want to be here for a long time. And so, it will be something that will be a priority for us.”
It was pointed out that there’s talk that signing Hurts to a new deal would keep them from re-signing other guys. The GM explained that they knew that they were going to have a large number of free agents this offseason, and that was why they made the trade last year. They might not have a lot of draft picks this year, but they have high ones, and they have a lot in 2024.
ROSEMAN: “We already have two additional picks from two trades that we made. And just by the sheer number of the free agents, we’re going to have comp picks next year. Even if we signed a bunch of guys, we are going to have comp picks next year.”
On developing the 2022 NFL Draft picks
Most of the guys who were drafted by the Eagles last year didn’t have significant roles with the team this season, and Roseman was asked how important it is for that group to make a big leap this offseason.
“ROSEMAN: We look at the draft as kind of long-term decisions. We don’t want to just draft for immediate needs. It would be great if that’s what ends up happening with the right players. But we have gotten in problems here where we’ve said, hey, we have a need at this position, let’s draft the best guy at this position.
All of those guys are ready to play if we need them and they can play a variety of roles. So that doesn’t mean that we can’t bring back the veteran players at those positions. Some of those players at those positions are some of the greatest players not only to play on our team this year but in this franchise, and we’d love to have some of those guys back.
But those guys are ready. They were ready to play this year. They just had great guys in front of them.”