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Nick Sirianni talks Eagles captains, self-scouting, and his fascination with Bill Belichick

The Eagles head coach spoke to reporters as the team was preparing for their Week 1 matchup against the Patriots.

The Eagles are back to work as they prepare for their Week 1 matchup against the Patriots, and head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters about the team’s 2023 captains, how the offense self-scouts, and why he studies Bill Belichick. He also mentioned how unknowns can be a competitive advantage, like who the starting safety will be, or what they do with the running back group.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

On the Eagles’ 2023 captains

Sirianni said that he announces captains at the end of the team meeting regarding roles. They talk about how everyone has a role, and that the role can be expanded on if done well, and then the head coach brings up captains and their added roles.

He set it up so that he announced last year’s captains (Fletcher Cox, Jake Elliott, Brandon Graham, Jalen Hurts, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, and Darius Slay) and then announced the two new guys (A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith).

“Anytime you can give guys good news, guys that are not only tremendous players but tremendous leaders and tremendous people on your team, that’s obviously something that you really enjoy and remember as a coach.

And so really happy for all the guys voted captain because it just says so much about them and what their teammates think about them. And then just obviously get really excited for the guys that are going to wear the C on their chest for the first time this year.

And so, it doesn’t surprise me at all because A.J. and DeVonta have special leadership qualities and play tremendous football, and they lead in their own way.

So, I’m just really happy for them. Really happy for all the guys.”

On self-scouting the offense

The head coach had a lot to say about how they prepare for the unexpected from opposing defenses, and pointed to a lot of self-scouting in the offseason to try and identify different tendencies and possible reactions to those. Sirianni explained in detail their self-scouting process, noting that he has both an offensive senior assistant and defensive senior assistant evaluate plays to get a well-rounded view of what they might be showing and what might be able to stop it.

Still, a lot of unexpected things will come up in games, and it falls on the players to identify those in real time and adjust.

“My experience has been that when you’ve had success on offense, you have to be ready for the unexpected.

You have to be ready for things that they didn’t put on tape. And so, what you’re trying to do in walk-throughs specifically is recreate that as much as you can. Hey, what stops this play? Well, this can stop it, this can stop it, this can stop it, whatever it is.

And you try to say, all right, this is in their scheme. Show them that. But then you’re also trying to pick and choose, well, they could do this. They didn’t show them that on tape, but they could do it. That’s been my experience when we’ve been successful on offense is that you have to expect unexpecteds.

One thing I talked about in our roles to the guys is like, hey, [C] Jason Kelce and [QB] Jalen Hurts, there’s nobody else in this world I want to handle the unexpecteds other than you guys out there on the field.

They’re the two best doing it in the world, in my opinion. And so, nobody else I’d rather have handling the unexpecteds than Jason Kelce and Jalen Hurts because a lot of times you as a coach can’t handle it until after it happens, or you can prep them, but you can’t handle it until after it happens on the sideline.”

On Patriots HC Bill Belichick

Sirianni said that he has a lot of respect for head coach Bill Belichick, and is fascinated by his style of coaching and why he’s been so successful, specifically Belichick’s ability to win consistently, year-after-year.

“I’m always fascinated by people who are consistent, and that’s what his career has been is this unbelievable consistency of success. And so that’s what I’m always fascinated about.

And so what you ask questions about is the process, daily operations, all those different things. Look, every time you watch his defense play, you see the fundamentals on display. You see the smart situations on display, the situational football intelligence on display.”

He also admitted to leaving no stone unturned when it came to preparing to face Belichick in Week 1, including talking to Matt Patricia. Sirianni said that he’s very appreciative to be able to get insight from Patricia, of the Belichick coaching tree, about different coaching philosophies.

“I’m honored that I’m able to do that. Because, again, when we show a play or a route or something like that, we show our guys how to do it, from great players of the past, great plays we’ve made here as Eagles.

So, you’re able to see that. So, it’s the same, but it’s no different as coaches. You want to study great coaches of the past and present and just try to perfect your craft.”

Other notables

  • Sirianni acknowledged that having a new Defensive Coordinator, Sean Desai, helps create an advantage in Week 1, but that’s true of any unknowns. Related, he later simply shook his head “no” when asked about naming their starting safety.
  • As for the running back group, the head coach said he’s happy to have such depth at the position, and feels like each of the guys are versatile and talented enough to get a majority of the carries. Sirianni pointed out that even if he were to say they’ll be taking a committee approach, one guy could get hot and they stay with him. Ultimately, he sees the position as flexible.
  • Sirianni also talked about having such a variety of game times this season, given players are creatures of habit. The head coach explained that they really do take things one day at a time, so each week will be planned for as they get to it. Still, he admitted that he does a lot of research regarding different game times — Monday night games on the West Coast, Monday night games two time zones away, Monday night home games, Thursday night games, bye weeks, etc...

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