Plus, the Eagles head coach talks offensive game planning and how they choose practice squad additions.
Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters on Friday ahead of the team’s home opener, and talked about having practice at The Linc, when he sees a more outspoken DeVonta Smith, and how they plan to keep the offense fresh.
Sirianni confirmed that Rodney McLeod will be out on Sunday, but that Landon Dickerson will play — although, he didn’t want to get into specifics about how the rookie might be used. He later noted that they’ll find out about Marcus Epps availability and if he’ll come out of the concussion protocol on Saturday morning.
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He was also asked about his Jalen Hurts shirt and admitted someone sent it to him and he liked it, and it’s a way to support the starting quarterback. Sirianni mentioned that wearing the guys’ shirts — something he did throughout training camp — is a way to connect with players and letting them know he believes in them.
Here’s what else the head coach had to say:
On playing at The Linc
The Eagles were heading over to Lincoln Financial Field for Friday’s practice, and Sirianni noted that it’s rare to have a home field so close to a team’s facility, so it would be a good opportunity to get some of the new guys a taste of the environment and to work out a few logistics. He admitted that it won’t make a huge difference on Sunday, but even if it helps a little bit, it was worth the trip. The head coach also said that things may change due to weather and other circumstances. but his initial plan is to have a weekly practice at The Linc ahead of home games.
On DeVonta Smith’s personality
A lot has been made this week about the rookie receiver being quiet publicly, but then everyone seeing him let loose in the locker room following the win. Smith himself on Thursday talked about how his teammates have gotten him to break out of him shell a little, and that he’s just a guy who like to stay home, study, and play video games.
Sirianni said that he sees a bit of the same personality he shows publicly, maybe a bit more open, but still kind of quiet.
“When you’re in there talking ball with him, he’s not quiet, right. This something he knows well, he studies hard, he’s obsessed with his craft of getting better, and loves wide receiver play, loves the details of the game. So, that’s where you see it — that’s where I guess I’ve seen it more than not, is just talking ball with him in general.”
On keeping the offense fresh
Sirianni talked during training camp about the advantage they had since there wasn’t film on their offense, and now that they’ve played one game, the head coach said they just need to be aware of what their tendencies are. He noted, however, that Atlanta’s defense is different than San Francisco’s defense, so they’ll be doing some different things, and there’s still only one game for the 49ers to study.
The head coach was asked about how they game plan and he explained — as he has before — that it all starts with the players. So, they look at what their players do well, what they want to highlight, and then they start whittling down their list of feel routes based on the coverages and scheme of their opponent, and then again based on specific players they’ll be facing. Sirianni noted that it takes a long list of plays and narrows it down enough for them to be able to have effective practices during the week.
- Sirianni was asked what he’s learned about DC Jonathan Gannon since coming to Philly, since they knew each other well in Indianapolis, but the head coach pointed to Gannon’s leadership. He admitted he knew he was a great leader, but now that he’s got an entire group to work with, he’s seeing that leadership even more.
- He talked about giving a lot of the veterans a rest day on Wednesday and he noted that it’s just like they did in camp, it’s all about the players’ health and making sure they’re fresh for the game.
- As far as protecting and promoting players from the practice squad, Sirianni explained that the top three factors that go into those decisions are 1) is there a group that’s thing, 2) their contributions to special teams, and 3) the offense/defense their facing in any particular week and whether they expect needing a heavier rotation. Since these guys are coming in as the second group, the decision to promote or protect doesn’t factor much into game planning and doesn’t need to be made too early in the week.