Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni still looking for consistency, especially against opposing quarterbacks
For the fifth time this season, the Eagles allowed an opposing quarterback to complete more than 80% of his passes.
The Eagles have been a disappointing bunch throughout Nick Sirianni’s first season as head coach. Following Sunday’s loss to the Chargers, their record fell to 3-6, including 0-4 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Optics aside, Sirianni believes he’s seen growth from his team during the season’s first eight weeks.
“We have to play better,” Sirianni said in a news conference Monday. “We have to coach better to be able to do that. But I think you’ve seen us in a spot where when we’re playing consistent, we can play pretty well.
“But it’s the consistency – it’s not there right yet, consistently.”
Defense allows another quarterback to record a career-high completion percentage
For the fifth time this season, the Eagles allowed an opposing quarterback to complete more than 80% of his passes. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert diced through the defense en route to connecting on 84.2% of his throws. Sunday marked the second time in three weeks the Eagles allowed an opposing quarterback to set a new career-best.
Ahead of Sunday’s loss, the Eagles discussed the advantages of having familiarity on Herbert. Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen was Herbert’s play-caller last season, and he shared his insight with the rest of the coaching staff, including defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
Gannon blitzed Herbert on 12 of 41 dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus. The 29.3% blitz rate was the highest clip of the season for the Eagles. But that effort was to no avail.
The Eagles registered just one quarterback hit versus Herbert with zero sacks.
“You can throw off the timing by getting a little pressure,” Sirianni said. “You can throw off the timing by disguising the coverage and confusing the quarterback on where to go. You can throw off the timing with some reroutes and some press coverage as well.
“There’s different things that we’re trying. ... Whatever the issues are on this team offensively, defensively, special teams-wise, it all starts with me and me first. Because I do have that expertise as an offense to be able to share this information with the defense. And it’s my job to be able to get some of those things worked into the equation.”
Reactions to Derek Barnett’s penalty
With the Chargers trailing by one and facing third-and-6 in the fourth quarter, Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett was penalized for a neutral zone infraction. As the yellow flags hit the field, so did Josh Sweat’s palms and elbows out of frustration. Fellow defensive lineman Fletcher Cox also dipped his helmet following Barnett’s miscue.
Since being selected by the Eagles with the No. 14 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Barnett has recorded 20.5 sacks compared to 24 penalties. He’s been flagged for offside 11 times, unnecessary roughness (six), roughing the passer (three), neutral-zone infraction (three), and illegal use of hands (one).
Earlier in the season, Sirianni was caught on camera and appeared to say, “It’s always him,” after Barnett was flagged.
“As far as the body language, I think there are things that happen in a game where our emotions show,” Sirianni said. “I’m an emotional guy, so I don’t want to be judged on things that happen sometimes in the game with my emotions, because it is an emotional game.”
The Eagles are tied for third-most penalties in the league, 63. They were the most penalized team during the first 1½ months of the season.
“I think that’s just a natural reaction, but you always want to protect your teammates in every scenario,” Sirianni said. “As far as Derek goes, he’s had two of those big ones in third-down scenarios, but I do believe, just like the rest of the team, we’re trending in the right way with our penalty situation. ... That’s the nature of the game. Derek is a guy that plays extremely hard and extremely tough.”
Flower power strikes
Sirianni had a bouquet of flowers thrown toward him as he walked off the home field. It was the second time in three weeks Sirianni had an object thrown in his direction from the stands. Following the team’s loss at Las Vegas, another fan threw an Eagles jersey at Sirianni as he exited Allegiant Stadium.
The flowers — an apparent reference to Sirianni having shown Eagles players a picture of a flower at a team meeting depicting growing roots as a metaphor — didn’t hit the coach. Sirianni did give a long look in the direction where they came from as a security officer guided him back into the stadium tunnel.
Asked about the flower-throwing the next day, Sirianni spoke of self-control.
“I think that’s just something my dad’s always taught from when I was a kid ‘cause we’re Italian, we got hot tempers, and I think you guys know that about me,” Sirianni said earlier Monday on WIP. “When it calls time for self-control, you’ve got to have self-control. Because I know in situations like that, the rest of the team’s looking at me and looking at, ‘Well if Coach runs up there like Ron Artest and starts fighting everybody, then I can do it too.’ And I obviously don’t want that to happen.”
Sirianni continued: “... It wasn’t very good aim by the fan. He didn’t hit me. So I think if it hit me it would have been a little different. ... I’ve got to portray self-control. I didn’t say anything. I just kind of looked up there. But, hey, I get the passion of the fans and in situations like that after a tough loss, I’ve got to show self-control, and I feel like I did that.”