Plus, Sirianni confirms two offensive starters.
The Eagles trimmed their roster down to 53 players just ahead of the deadline, and following the announcement GM Howie Roseman and head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters about some of their decisions.
Roseman confirmed that more moves will be made in the next 24 hours once they see who clears waivers and what other players they may try and add to the roster. But for now, the GM and head coach are happy with the guys they have and look forward to getting to the best 70 players they can — the game day roster, practice squad and international player (Matt Leo).
On only keeping five receivers
Roseman and Sirianni were asked about the decision to keep JJ Arcega-Whiteside (JJAW) over guys like Travis Fulgham and John Hightower.
“I think the first thing is with Travis [Fulgham], here’s a guy who obviously had a heck of a stretch for us last year. And we looked at it that this was a new year and this was a new beginning, and we wanted to go based on what we saw and take the whole process into play.”
Sirianni later said that he didn’t want to speak on Fulgham specifically, but rather pointed out that JJAW did a good job on special teams and sometimes that’s what ultimately separates a player.
Roseman went on to note that they are heavy on offensive and defensive line, and by having depth up front, they’re going to have to make sacrifices at other spots.
On the QB position
When asked about adding Gardner Minshew, Roseman joked that the Eagles are a QB factory and noted that they are always going to invest in that position. When speaking to both Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco about the decision, they just explained that they had an opportunity to get a good player and a good person. Roseman said that they’ve typically carried three quarterbacks in his history with the team, and especially with a 17-game season and the pandemic, they’ll do the same again this season.
Roseman said that Hurts handled the Minshew addition well and is all about how it helps the team, but is also confident in his own ability and his status with the team. Sirianni then followed up and confirmed what was pretty much widely known, that Hurts would move forward as the Eagles’ starting quarterback.
“Really nobody else got any reps with the ones, and Jalen has known, ‘Hey, nobody else has gotten any reps with the ones but me,’ and Jalen is our starter. He’s done a great job.
We wanted him to take advantage of the opportunity and take the reins with the advantage of the opportunity that he got, and we feel like the preseason that he had, he did that.
I consistently saw a player that got better every single day. I consistently saw a player make the read, getting better with his reads and his accuracy and his ability to run and when not to run.
He did exactly what we wanted him to do. Again, nobody else has worked with the ones, so you could really argue that we named a starter a while ago. Jalen will be our starter, and he’s earned that right with a great preseason, and we’ve got a lot of confidence in him and in that room in general.”
Gardner, however, had previously talked about wanting to compete for the starting role in Jacksonville, but Roseman explained that he’s coming into camp late and after the preseason, so for now, the QB’s priority is learning the system and connecting with players and coaches. They’ve seen his work ethic already, he’s already in the building, and he’s been working a lot with Hurts and Flacco connecting and getting to know each other. Sirianni later confirmed that right now Gardner is QB3 behind Hurts and then Flacco.
On building the roster
Roseman talked about balancing the short- and long-term of the franchise when putting together the roster, which he explained was evidenced in their decisions two keep the two defensive lineman they drafted.
“Are they exactly where they need to be today? No. I think that when you talk about coming into any profession, as you grow, as you learn, as you get better with time and experience, that helps, and we see the potential in these guys. I think that like Tarron [Jackson] you saw the flashes, you saw both those guys in the last preseason game, they got better and better, and that’s what we’re looking for from young players. We are looking to see that they continue to improve.
They got the tools in their body. We had good grades on both those guys coming out. We love the character and the work ethic, and so we want to work with those guys and develop them.
I think that kind of looking back at maybe sometimes we’ve gone with an older guy in the short-term and then the next year we’ve got to go draft another guy at that same position, I think we’re investing in our player development program. We’re investing in our coaches and trusting in those guys to get these guys better and be ready to play this season.”
Sirianni was later asked about the 2021 draft class and how all but one ended up making the 53-man roster. He explained that they were really confident in the abilities of the guys and were genuinely excited about everyone they drafted, not only because they had talent, but also because they were high-character people.
“And when you have talent, talent is the most important thing, but if you’re high character and if you love ball and you’re tough, you’re going to reach your ceiling, and you’re going to reach your ceiling quicker.”
- Roseman confirmed that the team chose to activate Rodney McLeod and Landon Dickerson because they don’t anticipate either of those guys missing the first six weeks — which would have been the case if they put them on the PUP list. He didn’t want to put an exact timetable on when either McLeod or Dickerson would return to the field, but said they’ll leave that up to the doctors and training staff.
- When asked whether they considered vaccination status when thinking about the roster — something Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer admitted was a factor for them — Roseman noted that they only looked at putting together the best 53 guys to help the team.
- Sirianni confirmed that Jordan Mailata has earned the left tackle starting role, although the head coach was sure to point out that Andre Dillard had a similarly great camp, but missed some time and chemistry building during his injury. Ultimately, Sirianni said he’s just glad to have both guys on the roster.