Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Friday, and while he wasn’t asked about the upcoming Giants game, he did talk quite a bit about Jalen Hurts checking to plays and the freedom he has to do so. He also explained how they make corrections when those plays don’t work out, and why the onus is always on the coaches.
A.J. Brown explained earlier in the week that he appreciates Sirianni’s loyalty, pointing to the head coach taking the fall for an improvised play at the end of the Seahawks game. Sirianni said that he always appreciated coaches doing that for him when he was a player, and he doesn’t let his pride interfere with protecting his guys.
He was asked how much freedom Jalen Hurts has with regard to improvising plays, and the head coach explained:
“Yeah, he has total freedom to do what he needs to do to make a play. Sometimes that’s going to work and sometimes that’s not going to work.”
Sirianni went on to note that multiple times this year, they saw different things in-game than they saw on tape from an opponent, and you either have to make that adjustment on the sideline, or it’s up to a player to make an adjustment on the field.
“That’s what you work so hard through the training camps and OTAs, here is what we like versus this, versus this. Yes, this has answers versus this or this has answers versus everything, but this is an ideal thing to get to in these scenarios.
So, you constantly talk about those things. Like I said, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s the right time to do it and sometimes it’s not the right time.”
The head coach also recalled Frank Reich telling him that a quarterback is going to make four to five plays in a game with his mind that will change the game — explaining that sometimes that’s something he sees and is part of a check, and sometimes it’s something he sees that he gets to.
“So, I think Jalen does a really good job of that — has done a lot of good things with that.
When it doesn’t go right, like in particular in that game, you have to be able to say, ‘Okay, we’ll fix it. This might not have been the time to do it, or this was the right time to do it.’
No one is going to bat a thousand within those decisions. I know this: He’s doing this a lot more and it’s working [more] than it’s not working in that particular case.”
Sirianni then talked about how from a coaching perspective, they can’t be solely focused on the results of the check because that could end up stymieing the QB. Instead, they have to see why it didn’t work in specific situations and when it might be better utilized.
He was also asked about Hurts’ productivity this season compared to last, notably more turnovers and less success running the ball. Sirianni said that the QB has played really good football this year, but admitted that the coaches take ownership over any sort of regression — with him or other players.
“If any player of ours plays bad, we take onus on that.
Hell yeah. That’s our job to make them play well and help them play well. We are there to serve the players. That’s why I say — I know you think maybe at times when I say blame me for that, I truly believe that if a player is not playing to the best of his ability, that’s on me.”
The head coach noted that doesn’t mean they don’t correct the mistakes and hold players accountable, but if a player has a bad game, that’s on them from not preparing them or putting them in the right position to make a play.
Sirianni also quipped that all the coaches wish they could still play, so helping guys accomplish their goals is special.
“If we’re going to be so excited when they do something right, and know that we served them to help them get there, then it has to be the other way around, too, when it’s not the right way and what could we have done better in that scenario.”