Nick Sirianni talks supporting Eagles players through the Damar Hamlin situation
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni spoke to reporters Wednesday for the first time since the Damar Hamlin tragedy Monday night. He talked about how the team made sure there were resources available to the players, as well as how they balance tough coverage with preparing to play a game on Sunday.
Sirianni also talked about the team’s use of QB stealing, why Gardner Minshew was sacked six times against the Saints, and also gave some updates on injuries.
Here’s what the head coach said:
On Damar Hamlin and how he affected the team
Sirianni explained that whenever something happens outside of their building that requires discussion, they do so and make sure the boys know they have people who care about them and people they can talk to if needed.
The head coach stressed that everyone obviously feels for Hamlin and his family and is praying for a speedy recovery.
“The first thing you do when you see this is just shock. You don’t see that very often, so it just blows your mind.
Many emotions and things are going through your mind. The first was as a football coach and as a former football player what crossed my mind. Then my thought process turned to how can I mentor 80 guys in a tough situation like this? Then it went back to, well, my son plays soccer.
There’s just a lot of emotions that you have to go through, but for me it’s just the supportive aspect of it. The last thing on my mind is how to convince them that, like you said, they should come out and play.
We’re just here for them now and we try to be just there for them, and this is an opportunity for us to practice what we preach. Do we really believe the link thing, or is it all just BS? This is our chance to not only say we’re there for you guys, but also be there for them.
So that’s all we care about is they know they have a lot of people. All the guys, anyone who is suffering from this mentally, know that they have people in this building who care. First of all, they have the resources in this building to be able to talk about things if they need to talk about things with all the different people that we have. But then they also have their teammates and their coaches and a front office that cares deeply about these guys.
Like we do with anything, just get it together and get through this tough time. There’s been other things that we’ve had these things in these last couple of years as well that you go through, you have tough conversations and you get through them, but at the end of the day you just want them to know that you’re there for them and that you will do everything you can.
Then one thing we talked about was, hey, there’s a lot of benefits to this game. This game gives us many different things and we are totally grateful for those things, but the best benefit it gives us is the relationships. If you ask somebody, if you ask a player or a coach who’s no longer involved in the game, sure, we’ll be able to knock off some wins or some games or whatever, some cool restaurant in Philly that we ate at or something such, but the first thing that will come to everyone’s mind is relationships.
So that’s what you’ve hopefully built up to this point, so you can help guys through a tough time.”
Sirianni said he hasn’t sensed any hesitation from any of the players in terms of returning to the pitch, but he was honest they haven’t talked about it yet as they’re still trying to work through the emotions of what happened. He also admitted it’s a tough balance to have those conversations and then get back to preparing to play a football game, but said you just have to do it and move on to the next thing as best you can.
In the use of QB sneaks
It was pointed out that the Eagles are using the QB steal more than any other team since 2000 – the Eagles have run it 30 times this year. Sirianni said execution breeds confidence, and while he noted they didn’t get it against the Saints, they have a lot of faith in those guys in that scenario.
He pointed out that it starts with the three guys up front, and when you have Jason Kelce, Isaac Seumalo and Landon Dickerson pushing the route, plus the QB passing, they have a lot of confidence in calling the play – they’ve scored a lot of shots on it and did many third down conversions.
“In terms of his pure numbers, we’ve been very good on first downs and second downs, except for the last game of course, but we’ve been very good on first downs and second downs where we decide ourselves. positions to run these plays because we have a lot of short games in the yard.
So a big part of why they’re so high is because we’ve been in a lot of goal-for-goal situations. We’ve been in a lot of short situations, and here we’ve been comfortable running those plays. So that’s a credit to the lads for what they’ve done in the first and second is why their big numbers.”
Gardner Minshew was sacked 6 times in Week 17
Sirianni was asked about the offensive line allowing six sacks against the Saints, and whether he attributed that to Lane Johnson being out or Minshew holding the ball. He explained that there is a lot of blame to go around, including the coaches.
“It’s the best team game there is, and so it really takes the 11 to do it, and we need us as coaches to put them in the right place. So a lot of the blame for that, and it starts with us as coaches to make sure we help guys open up in those senses.
Jack thought [Driscoll] did a good job of coming in and playing against a player who’s a good player, and he battled, and he’s going to get better from that, so no complaints with Jack.”
Sirianni said Hurts is still day-to-day, and they don’t have to make a decision on whether he’ll play Sunday yet. He explained that they’ll see how he does over the next couple of days, especially on Thursday when they’re actually practicing versus a walk-on.
“Obviously, we all know what happened to him on Sunday, but it was good to see him here today and a smile on his face. Maybe it will force me to play. We’ll see, but we’ll take it day by day. I’m glad he’s back in the building with his teammates.”
Sirianni explained that they will open the practice window on Wednesday for CJ Gardner-Johnson and Robert Quinn. Avonte Maddox is still day-to-day and has been rehabbing the building, but he didn’t want to put a timetable on his return.