Nick Sirianni explains why he lied to protect A.J. Brown and Jalen Hurts

Nick Sirianni AND Jalen Hurts


One of the most interesting things to come out of A.J. Brown’s meeting with the media Wednesday was his emphatic illustration of Nick Sirianni’s loyalty to his players.  Brown used the disastrous play at the end of the loss to the Seahawks, where Jalen Hurts got picked off trying to force a deep ball to Brown.

Sirianni took a ton of heat – deservedly so – for saying after the game that the Eagles were trying to get a pass interference call on the play.  Brown said Wednesday Siriani was just covering up for some ill-advised free-lancing on the part of Hurts and Brown.  “I have nothing but respect for him because not all coaches do that,” Brown said. “He takes up for us when it has nothing to do with him and he gets the blame.”

Sirianni spoke Friday morning for the first time since Brown’s comments and explained why he essentially lied to protect his players.  “That’s what a lot of coaches do and that’s something I’ve always done and always thought when a coach did that for me was appreciative of,” he said. “But also knew that coach was going to correct it after the fact. When I played – and that was a long time ago – knowing a coach had my back was really important to me, and you’re a product of things you went through, and I know that’s important and I felt like that would be important for them as well and then we just move on and you correct the mistakes that you make, myself and the players.”

The Eagles, trailing 20-17, had a 1st-and-10 on their own 45-yard-line with 13 seconds left when Hurts forced a pass into double coverage to Brown on the right sideline. Seahawks safety Julian Love’s interception ended the game.  Sirianni and play caller Brian Johnson were widely criticized for forcing a low-percentage pass when the Eagles still had two timeouts and were about 15 yards from Jake Elliott field goal range.

In reality, Sirianni essentially fell on his sword to protect his players.  “There’s things that don’t need to be addressed to the outside world and that we keep things in-house,” Sirianni said. “Just like a conversation with a player. I’m never going to talk to you guys about a private conversation I have with a player because that’s between us and that’s the same thing with a play.  “Nobody really needs to know in those scenarios. And all that matters is that we know and all that matters is that we get better from whatever we did. If the play worked, we get better from that. If the play didn’t work, we get better from that.

“Our third core value is accountability and that’s a portion of it. The only portion of accountability that I care about is what happens in this building. That was nice of A.J. to say that, he didn’t have to say that, because all I really care about is that the accountability takes place here. And that’s all that matters. All that matters is that we’re getting better as a unit and that we’re getting better as a team based off the mistakes we’ve made and based off the good things we’ve done.”

Although that particular play against the Seahawks didn’t work, Sirianni said he doesn’t have a problem in general with Hurts and Brown going off script either with a check or an improvisation. They’ve made a ton of big plays doing exactly that.  It’s just a matter of being smart about the down and distance and game situation.  “He has total freedom to do what he needs to do to make a play,” he said. “And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes it’s the right time to do it and sometimes it’s not the right time to do it.

“Frank Reich used to always talk to me about this – one of the greatest backup quarterbacks of all-time: A quarterback’s going to make four to five plays in a game with his mind that are going to change the game and sometimes that’s something that he sees as part of a check and sometimes it’s something he sees that he gets to, and I think that’s just standard practice in football. …

“And that’s why you’re trying to constantly be on the same page with the players. Gosh, I think Jalen does a really good job of that and has done a lot of good things with that and when it doesn’t go right, in particular in that (Seattle) game, you have to be able to say, OK, we’ll fix it, this might not be the time to do it or it was the time to do it, but no one’s going to bat a thousand within those decisions.  “But I know this: He’s doing this a lot more that it’s working than it’s not working.”


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