Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni is in Indianapolis this week for the NFL Combine and he spoke to reporters on Tuesday afternoon just after the team announced some new promotions and hires among their coaching staff.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On promoting Brian Johnson to OC
“I’m in there with him every single day and seeing him work every single day, seeing him with the quarterbacks, seeing him in game planning meetings, seeing him on the practice field.
So, I thought that was the natural progression for us to go that route. His relationship with Jalen [Hurts] and just Brian is a sharp, sharp dude. I lean on him for so many different things and now he’s in charge of running the offense.”
Johnson has some play calling experience at the college level, and Sirianni said that the new OC was often in the headset and involved last season. They all work together throughout the week to make a plan for every kind of situation they might be in, and Johnson was a big part of that preparation. Sirianni said that’s where a big chunk of the play calling comes from.
The head coach acknowledged that there was an emphasis on stability, not just for Jalen Hurts, but for the whole offense and staff. Sirianni said that not a lot will change with Shane Steichen now with the Colts, and that Johnson — and the rest of the staff they were able to keep with the team — will still run the exact same offense. He noted that he’s sure Steichen would have wanted some of the assistant coaches to go with him to Indy, but Philly was able to maintain that group.
On new DC Sean Desai
The Eagles brought in the former Seahawks coordinator to fill the role left by Jonathan Gannon, and Sirianni said Desai has extremely high football IQ and is very detailed.
Sirianni is known for keeping any competitive advantage that he can, which includes giving any insight into what kind of defensive scheme they’ll be running.
“So not give everything away, but what I did like is some of the similarities to the things that we do, that we’ve already been doing here on a very successful defense with different coverages, different run blitzes, things like that.”
As for how the other internal candidates — like Dennard Wilson — may feel with Sirianni hiring someone else, the head coach said that ultimately he had to make what he thought was the best decision for the team.
“My job was to go through the process, and just like we do with everything, cast a wide net and get to know different people, get to talk to different people and get to see who is ready for the job.
I think we interviewed a really good group of guys and was really impressed by all of them actually. Just at the end of the day, obviously some experience that Sean [Desai] has had calling it, but also just I have to do what I feel is best for the team, and I felt like Sean was the best guy for the job.”
Sirianni was asked directly if Dennard Wilson will stay on staff, but the head coach said they haven’t gotten that far into the process.
“Yeah, we’ll obviously go through that as we continue on. Does the staff dynamic fit? Does Sean [Desai] have anybody? But Dennard [Wilson] is a great football coach. He’s done an outstanding job. If he is still our defensive backs coach, we’ll be lucky to have him because we know how good of a coach he is.
We’re not to that process yet. We just finalized that Sean will be our defensive coordinator, so we’re not there yet. I think the world of Dennard and how good of a football coach he is.”
On free agency
Sirianni said that he’s in Howie Roseman’s office everyday, watching film on guys and talking about the team. He noted how important it is for the head coach and GM to have a close relationship, so this time of year, the pair spends a lot of time together. Still, at the end of the day, Roseman is going to make the moves and decisions that he feels are best for the team.
The head coach was asked about DT Javon Hargrave, who Sirianni said was awesome and a big time player
“Obviously you want all your guys back. You want all your guys back because you just went through a super special journey together. The journey is what you will always remember. I know that loss will stick with us, but there was a lot of good moments in that journey.
And Javon, just being around him every day at practice, he’s just an awesome guy to be around. He’s a great teammate – and he’s quiet, but he’s a quiet leader – but a great teammate, a great person, and a great player. You want to try to get as many guys back as you can, but knowing that that’s not always possible.
Again, Howie [Roseman] has to do what he feels is best for the team. I have my input just like we talked about, and we’ll see what happens. But I love Javon Hargrave.”
On former OC Shane Steichen
Sirianni said that he gave all the advice he could to Steichen over the past two years. He wanted Steichen to be the best offensive coordinator he could be, and wanted to prepare him to be the best head coach, too.
“He’s an awesome offensive mind. He excelled at that. Our offense played really well with Shane leading it. He just was awesome calling the game. I think he’s really special at calling the game. You know, that’s why I gave up play calling duties. One, was to make sure I was managing the game as the head coach, but also because of how much trust I had with Shane. Just relationships with players, accountability, he’s a ten in a lot of areas.
I think Indy got a special coach.”
- Sirianni said that the did interview other candidates for the offensive coordinator position, including Iowa State Offensive Coordinator Nate Scheelhaase.
- The head coach talked about the WR3 role and the production they got out of Quez Watkins and Zach Pascall. He noted that Watkins has far fewer opportunities in 2022 with most of the targets going to A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert. But, Sirianni said that Watkins extends the field, and Pascall is the enforcer, and he just wants those guys to execute the role they are asked to rather than having any concern about the stats or production.
- Sirianni said that Alex Tanney being promoted to QB coach was well-deserved. He explained that Tanney has done everything he could to be successful in the first two roles he held the first two years with the team, and works really hard to be as prepared as possible.