Eagles’ Sirianni: ‘I love this roster; I love our defensive roster’

Things started well for the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Las Vegas against the Raiders. Philadelphia went on an eight-play, 67-yard scoring drive on the team’s opening possession, resulting in a 13-yard TD pass from Jalen Hurts to Kenneth Gainwell to take an early 7-0 lead.

Philadelphia committed to the running game on that series, and Miles Sanders rushed for 25 yards on five attempts.

However, it was all downhill from there. The Raiders would score 30 consecutive points and take a 30-7 lead into the fourth quarter. Philadelphia would score two meaningless touchdowns in the fourth and would fall to the Raiders 33-22. 

Philadelphia had a difficult time stopping the Raiders’ offense. Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr was 31/34 for 323 yards and two touchdowns, interception. The Raiders had 442 yards of total offense.

Following the game, Eagles DT Fletcher Cox, who was notably frustrated during the game, appeared to take a shot at Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon after he was asked about a screen play.

“I don’t get paid to play screens,” Cox said after the game. “I get paid to sack the quarterback, play in the backfield, tackle. I don’t get paid to play screens. We get screened all the time. Get out of stack and run to the football.”

On Monday, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni addressed Cox’s comments.

“You know what, frustration, everyone has frustration after you lose,” Sirianni said. “As players, coaches, everybody is going to have frustration. We’ll talk about everything. We’ll talk through it. We’re going to address anything that we need to address as a team. But I’ll keep those conversations private that we’ll have there.

“I understand Fletch’s frustration. I’m frustrated. He’s frustrated. We just got to do everything we can do to get the ship righted.”

Not many expected the Eagles to be very good in 2021. Plus, the early part of their schedule was challenging. After winning their first game on opening day, Philadelphia has lost two straight and five of its last six games, but the next ten games should be manageable for the Eagles starting next week on the road against the Lions. In those ten games, Philadelphia plays three teams who are currently above .500. 

However, none of that matters for the Eagles if they don’t play better on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the question becomes, is it Gannon’s game plan, or is it the players? The linebackers are below average, the secondary is below average, and the defensive line is average. They are not getting after the quarterback with their front four, and they’re not blitzing, so the secondary is getting exposed. Also, they are not stopping the run. Philadelphia is 28th against the run, so teams are doing anything they want against this Eagles’ defense. 

According to Sirianni, he has had conversations with Gannon about making changes to the defensive schemes.

“Well, with our conversations, Jonathan and I’s conversations, it is just mixing up the coverages. He did that a little bit more yesterday. Still, it didn’t, obviously, work in the sense that [Raiders QB Derek] Carr was 31-of-34.

“We just talked a lot – we know we can get home with our four defensive linemen when they’re there. We just talked a lot about tightening it up as far as the way we’re mixing in some man-to-man, the way we’re mixing in some of the zones with the man-to-man. Just different ways to challenge on the perimeter and get our hands on balls and get in the throwing lane. That’s been the main discussion. It’s been more about to be able to mix a little bit more man-to-man in there…

“I love this roster; I love our defensive roster. I got a lot of faith in them. Again, we’re working like crazy to get it fixed.”

In terms of the offense, they have to be more consistent there as well. Hurts is young, so we should expect struggles, but they can run the ball more and just have a little bit more imagination on offense. 

The Eagles are a bad team right now, but it does appear the coaches could do a better job of putting the players in a position to succeed.

Flacco to the Jets

Eagles have acquired a 2022 conditional sixth-round draft pick from the Jets in exchange for QB Joe Flacco, the team announced on Monday. Flacco, who signed with the Eagles in the offseason, played with New York last season.

“Joe(Flacco) is just a great person to be around, great pro to be around,” Sirianni said. “Had a phenomenal preseason and was really good for our room. The opportunity arose for him to go and be able to contribute somewhere else. Then also, obviously, us get a pick for that.

“But our time with Joe Flacco was really good. We really appreciated him and everything that he did. He’s a great pro. You can see why he won so many games when he was in Baltimore and all the other places he’s been.”

Update on Sanders:

Sanders left the game in the first quarter after injuring his ankle. Sirianni gave an update on Sanders:

“Miles will probably be down. Actually, we are week-to-week with him, pardon me. It’s a stretch for him to be up this week, but we’re not ruling anything out yet.”

Bucs’ Brady on win over Eagles: ‘Obviously, we didn’t play our best’

Three games in 11 days are rough for any team in the NFL, which was the case for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and on Thursday night, the Buccaneers concluded those three games in 11 days with a 28-22 road win over the Eagles for their third consecutive victory.

Tampa Bay was not at their best against Philadelphia, but they did enough to get the job done. QB Tom Brady, who came in battling a thumb injury, completed 34-of-42 passes for 297 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. 

The Buccaneers’ defense also held the Eagles 213 yards of total offense.

“Definitely. It was a good win,” Brady said after the game. “It’s tough to win on the road. Obviously, we didn’t play our best. So we have to get back to work. We have a good little break here – use it – and then get back to work. See if we can get better.”

After the Eagles cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 28-22 late in the fourth quarter, Antonio Brown, who caught nine passes for 93 yards and one touchdown, helped put the game away with a 27-yard reception on the final drive.

“Yeah, [Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown] made a great play,” Brady said. “Just dipped underneath the guy and then found space – kind of what he’s done his entire career. He made a huge play; it was awesome.”

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians added on Brown’s big catch: “It was huge. Great route and hell of a throw when you’re trying to get out of the pocket. It’s a couple times this year he’s thrown out of the pocket to the right and made a big play down the field.”

Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette also came up big. He accumulated 127 yards from scrimmage, taking 22 rushes for 81 yards and two touchdowns while also contributing six receptions for 46 yards. Fournette has now recorded 100-or-more scrimmage yards in three consecutive games. The five-year veteran, who joined the team late in training camp last season, feels much more comfortable this season.

“I came in two weeks before our first game, so just having that year under my belt makes a big difference understanding it,” Fournette said. “Especially, playing with my guys for a year–trusting them and them trusting me–the lack of trust and accountability is done on both sides.”

Brady added on Fournette: “He’s a great back. He’s big, tough, catches it, runs, blocks, does everything for us. [It’s] great to have him in there. Obviously, when he’s rolling, it’s tough to stop us.”

Tampa Bay is 5-1, and each time they have been 5-1(four times), the Buccaneers won at least ten games, so this is shaping up to be another excellent season for the defending world champions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eagles’ Hurts: ‘I hold myself to a high standard of play’

The Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive struggles continued on Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Philadelphia, who had only 273 yards of total offense in a 21-18 victory over the Panthers last Sunday, totaled only 213 yards of total offense in the team’s 28-22 loss to the Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field. 

Philadelphia scored only seven points in the first half but made the game close in the fourth quarter. However, it was too little, too late.

“Just like us, we prepare as well as the other team,” Eagles OT Jordan Mailata said postgame. “I feel like [the Buccaneers] came out there and knew what we were doing right away. We just had to adapt – and it took us a little bit of time to adapt – but like I said, they do their homework, too. Just like we do. We have to learn to adapt, and we have to learn to adapt faster.”

Second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts was only 12/26 for 115 yards, touchdown, interception. He also added two touchdowns on the ground. Hurts struggled with accuracy and were not very sharp, but he made no excuses after the game.

“I don’t want to make excuses for anything,” Hurts said. “I know I hold myself to a high standard of play, and I am trying to go out there and play at a high level for the guys around me. We all do that. We all have that mentality to go out there and play together and have each other’s backs. You look at this game and this past game that we played in, and we started off slow. This whole year, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot, and we know, and we believe.

Despite the struggles, Hurts remains confident.

“I have unwavering faith in the guys on this football team and everybody on this field and that we have everything we need,” Hurts said. “It is just a matter of us putting that together. It is tough, but I have unwavering faith with everyone in this building and that it will come. To go toe-to-toe with a team like that, as bad as I started. It is bad, and we didn’t click early. When it came down to clutch time, at the end of the game, we ran out of time.”

Philadelphia’s best weapon on offense running back, Miles Sanders, had only one carry for one yard in the first half, but Sanders was more involved in the offense in the second half. He had eight carries for 55 yards, and the Eagles’ offense benefitted. 

When asked if the offense worked better when Sanders is involved, Hurts said the following:

“We saw the production later on in the game.”

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni explained why we saw Sanders get more touches later in the game.

“The way they were playing at the end of the second quarter into the third quarter is when they started playing the zone read a little bit different, which opened up a couple of those runs that we had called for that,” Sirianni said. “It was good adjustment by our offensive staff getting to those runs after they made a little adjustment how they were playing the zone read.”

The Eagles’ offense has to be better. That includes both Hurts and Sirianni. The offense seemed very predictable on Thursday night. It’s clear if they want to get better, Philadelphia has to give Sanders more touches in the run game going forward.

Eagles’ Sirianni praises Hurts for his play in second half against Panthers

The first half for Eagles QB Jalen Hurts against the Panthers on Sunday was not very good. The second-year quarterback was 15/24 for 74 yards, which is 3.1 yards per completion, and ultimately the Eagles trailed 15-6 at halftime.

The second half for Hurts was not great, but it was much better. Hurts led the Eagles on two scoring drives, including the game-winning drive, which he capped off with a six-yard touchdown run to give the Eagles a 21-18 road victory over the Panthers.

It was Hurts’ first-career game-winning drive, as well as his first-career fourth-quarter comeback, and he finished the game 23/37 for 198 yards, interception, and rushed for 30 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni discussed how Hurts overcame the slow start to lead Philadelphia to victory.

“It was perseverance and his ability to just forget what happened in the first half because everything that we wanted out of that game, which is obviously to win the game, was right there in front of us,” Sirianni said on Monday. “He took advantage of it and played a really good game in the second half. You’re just going to want some throws back, some reads back, and that kind of even extended into the third quarter a little bit for all of us, not just Jalen but the entire offensive unit and coaching staff. But again, it was just completely playing the next play and knowing that the defense was keeping us in the game and keeping us right there. Then it’s just going to take one play to really turn the tide, and he made a heck of a throw then to [WR] Quez [Watkins] to really turn the tide and help that comeback start.”

Fortunately for Hurts, the defense and special teams kept the Eagles in the game on Sunday. Philly picked off Sam Darnold three times, including two by Darius Slay and a blocked punt by T.J. Edwards to set up the game-winning score.

Obviously, with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers coming to town on Thursday night, Philly’s offense and Hurts will have to be much better if they want to get a win.

 

 

 

Eagles’ Sirianni compares DeVonta Smith to Allen Iverson

In basketball, it’s the first step that can help you can by a defender, and former Philadelphia  76ers great Allen Iverson had one of the best first steps in NBA history. Along with his speed and athleticism, Iverson’s first step helped him to score over 24,000 points in his career and got him inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame.

Eagles rookie wideout DeVonta Smith, like Iverson, has an excellent first step and is off to a decent start. Last week against the Chiefs, Smith had his first 100-yard receiving game with seven catches and 122 yards, and he leads the team in receptions and yards.

On Friday, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni compared Smith’s first step to Iverson.

“Yeah, I always consider the jab at the first point of the line of scrimmage,” Sirianni said. “And I think this will resonate with Philadelphia fans, that any time I teach a wide receiver how to release off the line of scrimmage, I have an Allen Iverson clip ready to go.

“And because it’s very much like a crossover. So why was Allen Iverson – I know this is like, ‘Man, why is he talking about basketball?’ Why was Allen Iverson good at the crossover? One thing, and you hear him say this all the time, is that he’s fast; he was quick. And so, people had to react to his first step.

“And so, when he took that hard jab one way, they had to react to it because he was quick, and then he was able to go back the other way. And that’s really what receivers are. And because DeVonta’s fast and because he’s quick and he has a quick, fast first release, first step, they have to react to when he jabs, and then the other thing on top of that, he’s making it a meaningful jab. You know, some receivers will just kind of — I mean, I know you can’t really see what I’m doing, but put their foot in the ground.

“Well, he puts his foot in the ground, he puts his body that way, and puts his head that way to really get them going, and then he crosses them over to, say, on — you know, how Allen Iverson used to do it.

“So that’s what makes him so effective. Again, his first quick step and then his technique in which he does it with how he gets that guying leaning that way and then come off and do it, So that’s exciting because that’s not something a lot of guys have to do a lot in college. And so, he’s just a quick — again, I always felt like he is a technically sound wide receiver, and he was coached really well at Alabama. And he’s a student of the game.

“So, it’s no surprise. And so, he has that understanding to that, too, that you really got to move them to get off the line of scrimmage.”

Well, if Smith is anything like Iverson, the Eagles, and their fans will be happy!

Eagles DC Gannon: ‘I think we’re all pissed off about the last two games’

The first two weeks of the season, the Philadelphia Eagles defense was playing excellent football. In Week 1 against the Falcons, Philadelphia held Atlanta to six points, and in Week 2 versus the 49ers, the Eagles held San Francisco to 17 points. 

However, the last two weeks have not been very memorable for Philly’s defense. They have given up 77 points in the previous two weeks, including 42 against the Chiefs last Sunday. Additionally, they have had a difficult time stopping the run. In the last two weeks, the Eagles have given up 360 yards on the ground. Currently, Philly is 31st against the run.

When the defense falters, fingers get pointed at the defensive coordinator, which is Jonathan Gannon,

“Yeah, I would think — we always first look at the coaches,” Gannon said at a press conference on Tuesday. “You know, when we come in on Monday, critically, how can we help our players a little bit more to put them in better position to win the game.

“I think we’re all pissed off about the last two games. We haven’t played great on defense. That’s evident. And that starts with me and starts with the coaches.

“So it always comes down to self-evaluation, ‘Hey, what can we do to help our players? What did we say the three things are to win this game? Did we get those three things done?'”

According to Gannon, he’s running out of patience with himself.

“My level of patience, it’s wearing thin on myself,” he said. “‘Hey, Jonathan, let’s get them in better position, so we give our team a chance to win the game.’ It’s not really towards getting irritated at the players. That’s how I’ll always roll; that’s how the coaches roll. So, when we came in here on Monday and sat down, I talked to the head coach on Sunday, on Monday morning, and then we’ll talk to him tonight.

“And the patience for me is wearing thin, ‘Hey, let’s get competitive. Let’s get in a game.’ Because right now, we haven’t been in a game — I know we were in that game, but from a defensive standpoint, like, we got to keep the points down, keep the yards down, get off the field to give our team a chance to win.

So, where I’m most non-cool, calm, and collected right now is not with the players; it’s with myself.”

Gannon is taking the blame, but it’s deeper than him. It’s a talent issue. The linebackers are very average; the secondary is not much better, and the defensive line is missing a big piece in Brandon Graham. The defense is probably not as bad as we’ve seen in the last two weeks, but it’s probably not as good as we’ve seen in Weeks 1 and 2. 

Gannon and company have a lot of work to do to get this defense turned around.

Eagles’ Sirianni on Hurts: ‘That’s one of the better quarterback performances I’ve seen’

After four games, the Philadelphia Eagles(1-3) have struggled with penalties. Coming into Sunday’s game against the Chiefs(2-2), Philadelphia led the league in penalties. The Eagles had three touchdowns wiped away due to penalties against the Chiefs and had nine in total as Philadelphia fell to Kansas City 42-30 at Lincoln Financial Field.

“The self-inflicted wounds have to stop,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said after the game. “I know I sound the same, but it’s still true. We have to stop the self-inflicted wounds of putting ourselves in holes with penalties.”

Defensively, Philadelphia had no answer for Kansas City, who had 471 total yards and did not have to punt. Patrick Mahomes had 278 yards passing and five touchdowns. Offensively, the Eagles were able to move the ball as they had 461 yards of total offense, but they struggled in the red zone and were 3-6 in the red area. The bottom line, they kicked too many field goals and did not score enough touchdowns.

“It’s not something I can really pinpoint,” Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said about the team’s red zone struggles. “I’m going to take accountability for everything on my end; you know what I’m saying? Whether it’s being more decisive down there or flat out just executing and getting into the endzone, we got a lot of playmakers that need to get in. It was a difference in this game, clearly.”

Philly now falls to 1-3 and has lost three straight after their opening day victory against the Falcons.

“You’re upset. You’re furious that you go to 1-3,” Sirianni said. “But we can also see there are some things that are to build on there.”

After struggling against Dallas, Hurts had a very good performance on Sunday. The second-year quarterback was 32/48 for 387 yards, two touchdowns. His 32 completions and 387 passing yards were both career highs.

According to Sirianni, it’s one of the best performances he’s seen out of a quarterback.

“I kind of talked to somebody in there. I just said, ‘That’s one of the better quarterback performances I’ve seen.’ And I’ve been around a lot of good quarterbacks, Phillip Rivers and Andrew Luck,” Sirianni said. “He battled. He made good decisions with the football. He got out of trouble when there was trouble. He made good checks. He made good reads. That’s the best I’ve seen him in practice. That’s the best I’ve seen him in a game since I’ve been here. Hats off to Jalen; he battled. That’s going to be important for us moving forward.”

At this point, the Eagles are a work in progress, which Hurts discussed after the game.

“We have to continue to grow, continue to learn, continue to be one percent better every day,” he said. “Continue to clock in and buy into that and believe in that. That’s what it’s going to take. We are not a finished product. No player on this team is a finished product. But it’s about believing in that and continuing to grow. And learn from everything that you do. We played a good football team out there today. A team that many say is generationally one of the best. Great quarterback, great players, all that. We have great players, too. We have to put it together, and we will. We are not a finished product.”

It could get worse for Philadelphia. The next three games are at the Panthers next Sunday, Tampa Bay at home, and on the road against the Raiders, so the Eagles could be 1-6 after seven weeks. Not many expected the Eagles to be good this season, but they have to clean up the penalties and get better in the red zone going forward if they want to avoid 1-6. It’s that simple.

 

 

 

 

LeSean McCoy will retire as an Eagle on Friday

Free agent RB LeSean McCoy has called it quits after 12 NFL seasons. McCoy, who won back-to-back Super Bowls, with the Chiefs and Buccaneers, will officially retire as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, the team announced on Thursday.

McCoy was the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and will be recognized as the Eagles Legend of the Game at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday when his former coach, Andy Reid, and his former team, the Kansas City Chiefs, battle the Eagles on Sunday.

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania native spent his first six NFL seasons in Philadelphia (2009-14), where he currently ranks first in rushing yards (6,792), second in rushing attempts (1,461), third in rushing touchdowns (44), and third in rushing average (4.7). As a member of the Eagles, he led the NFL with 1,607 rushing yards (single-season franchise record) and 2,146 scrimmage yards in 2013, and 17 rushing touchdowns (single-season franchise record) in 2011.

The six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection was originally a second-round draft pick (53rd overall) of the Eagles in the 2009 NFL Draft; McCoy ended his career totaling 15,000 scrimmage yards (11,102 rushing; 3,898 receiving) and 89 total touchdowns (73 rushing; 16 receiving) in 170 regular-season games.

From 2009-19, McCoy ranked second among all active running backs in rushing yards (11,071) and rushing touchdowns (73). He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-2010s Team, 

Eagles’ Sirianni would like Hurts to spend more time in the pocket

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts played one of the worst games of his young career in the team’s 41-21 loss to the Cowboys on Monday night.

Hurts was 25/39 for 326 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions, including a pick-six that helped the Cowboys take complete control of the game.

The second-year quarterback, who was making the seventh start of his career, often used his legs against the Cowboys and did not spend much time in the pocket.

Hurts was criticized by the Monday Night Football broadcast team for not staying in the pocket and going through his progressions. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni appeared to agree with that assessment, which he discussed on Wednesday.

“So from the beginning, we’ve been talking about, ‘Hey, how do we’ — because I heard something one time where his off-schedule throws on 1st and 2nd down were like 50 percent, or whatever it was, and then I heard that our old quarterback in Indy, Philip [Rivers], was like 14 percent, so they were at the vast difference of the spectrum; one was No. 1 in the league, one was 32, Sirianni said. “‘Whatever it was. My point was to him is, ‘Hey, we’ve got to bring that from 50 to 35. And by no means do I want you to get to 14 because you guys are different players. But get that to 35,’ and I think that’s what he’s — because he still has this unbelievable weapon of being able to extend plays and being able to make things happen out of the pocket.

“Yes, we want him to throw in rhythm, but we don’t want to limit him to who he is and what he can do. Again, it’s a fine line there. I think he’s done a better job. Are there plays that I thought he got out of the pocket too quick? Sure, there’s going to be a couple of those, but those are things that we’re constantly talking about. Again, I’ve got to do my job as a coach of, yes, getting him at 35 but not limiting him to what his strengths are and who he is as a player.”

When a quarterback has excellent running ability, it can be challenging to teach them to stay in the pocket and go through the necessary progressions. There will be growing pains with young quarterbacks, and Hurts is no different.

Eagles DC Gannon talks life without Brandon Graham

On Sunday, in the Eagles’ loss to the 49ers, Philadelphia lost the heart and soul of their defense and the team in defensive end Brandon Graham, who is out for the season after he ruptured his Achilles tendon. 

Before this injury, the 33-year-old Graham had missed only one regular-season game in the last five seasons with the Eagles.

Now, it’s next man up for the Eagles, and fortunately for them, Philadelphia has decent depth on the defensive line. They have Josh Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, and Tarron Jackson, who will have to step up in Graham’s absence. However, replacing a Pro Bowl defensive end is never easy.

On Wednesday, Eagles defense coordinator Jonathan Gannon discussed the loss of Graham.

“Yeah, I talked to our guys yesterday about the void that has taken place with [DE] Brandon [Graham],” Gannon said. And, obviously, not being able to play with us the rest of this year.

“You know, from a leadership and a character, and an attitude standpoint, I think collectively we have to – everyone has to, you know, try to fill that void collectively because not one guy is going to be able to do that. We do feel good with the leaders that we still have within the defense, really good about the leaders that we have.

“And from the standpoint of him, the roles that he was playing, you know, other guys are going to have to step in and fill where he was playing at, and we feel good about the guys that are going to do that.”

Tough break for the Eagles, and hopefully for Graham, he can make a full recovery.