The Eagles were barely able to squeak out a win against the Colts in Week 11, but they managed to take the lead with less than two minutes on the clock and hold on to go 9-1 on the season. It was an important game for head coach Nick Sirianni, who returned to the team he coached before leaving for Philly, and he spoke afterward about the personal significance of the victory.
“That was a great win. It wasn’t what you draw up or anything like that, but this league rarely is and it’s tough sledding. It was just a great win, to be able to get that.”
Here’s what else the head coach had to say:
On his post-game emotion
“I’m emotional because I love Frank Reich, I really do, and he’s one of the best damn football coaches that I’ve ever been around. So, yeah, I was hoping that he and I would be able to coach against each other in this game, but he’s one of my biggest mentors — I got my Dad, I got Larry Kehres, and I got Frank Reich.
Frank is such a good football coach, and yeah, you don’t want to know what I think of if he should be here or not, but you guys can probably imagine what I really think. I love him, and I got a little bit emotional about that, and it was good to see the guys that I really care about.”
Sirianni went on to say that it was good to see some of his former players, and hear what they had to say, and it was sweet to get a win, especially with what’s happened in the Colts’ organization the past couple weeks.
On the play-calling and decision-making
The head coach wasn’t going to shy away from the fact that the team struggled. He was asked about heading into halftime with three timeouts, and Sirianni noted that he wasn’t happy with how they were moving the ball and they were just about at the two minute warning and he didn’t want to help the Colts out with clock management.
“If we lost that game and I didn’t do it, I probably would have said, ‘Hey, shouldn’t have done that,’ but hey we won and I felt good about the decision right then. Not because — you know, I have faith in our offense to be able to do that, I just didn’t want to help them out by being able to go down and score a touchdown and try and make ‘em kick a field goal there because they lacked time outs. But, our defense was doing a good job at that time. You go back and forth with that — that’s what I’m going to do.”
Sirianni was also asked about the 4th-and-10 from the 39 yard line and passing it rather than going for a field goal. He acknowledged that he didn’t feel great about kicking it from there and he wanted to see if they could get the first down.
“I can’t say enough good things about Gus Bradley and his defense. That guy always gets his players to play for him. Always. Gus always gets his players. I was with him in San Diego, as you guys know, and he always gets his players to play for him. And they always do a good job on defense. So, they stopped us there and, again, I have to stick with the decision I made. Hindsight, do I kick it? Yeah, maybe. It didn’t work for this one.”
The head coach admitted that they simplified things a little bit on offense in the second half, and they went with what they felt was working at the time. It still wasn’t easy, though. Sirianni pointed to the strip sack by Yannick Ngakoue, which he said wasn’t the fault of the offensive tackles but rather the running back.
On the final offensive drive
Sirianni was asked about taking the time out after the final two-minute warning, but he said that there was some strategy to that call that he didn’t want to get into.
“That was a big-time drive. Miles Sanders looked at me and said, ‘Hey, I’m on the teach tape.’”
He explained that they’ve talked in practice about what to do when you get behind the defense and the ball is underthrown to you — you plant that right foot and turn back to the ball and go get it. That’s some that they coach up during the pass installs, and not necessarily something they tailor to the running backs, so Sirianni thought it was really cool that Sanders was able to pick up on that and execute in-game.
“That was a huge, huge play.”
As for them leaving on Jalen Hurts in that last drive, Sirianni said that they studied the Colts tendencies in various red zone situations, and when all else fails they tend to rely on their offensive line and push through those guys. Add to that, Hurts is special with the ball in his hands, so when the lane opened for the QB to run into the endzone, they all went crazy.
He acknowledged that even after the score they needed to get a stop, and Sirianni said that the defensive ends really earned the right to pass rush in that scenario.
On the Eagles’ run defense
“As we all know — sometimes I feel like we don’t think we all know — that it’s not indicative of just one game of who you are, right? The defensive coaches did an unbelievable job. The defensive players did an unbelievable job.
And, you know, I’ve been in this stadium when those offensive lineman over there — Quinton Nelson, Ryan Kelly — have really taken over a game because that’s a good offensive line. Jonathan Taylor is a good back and there was not much there. There was not much there at all. So, it was awesome.”
Sirianni quipped that he’ll be interested to see what the narrative is after this game regarding the group. He also said that Linval Jospeh and Ndamukong Suh did a great job, and he gave a lot of credit to DL Coach Tracy Rocker for getting those guys ready in mere days.