The Philadelphia Eagles wrapped up spring OTAs on Friday with a series of player competitions, including a three-point contest between Nick Sirianni and Greg Ward. It got pretty intense and forced Sirianni to show up late for his post-practice media availability.
“Greg beat the crap out of me,” Sirianni joked. “But I shot baskets with him. We just practiced competing. We just shot three-point shots. He’s a great shooter, just so you know.”
Competition has been Sirianni’s overriding message since taking over for Doug Pederson. He made DeVonta Smith and Travis Fulgham go against each other on the jugs machine. Josh Sweat and Brandon Graham went toe-to-toe in a foot race. And Dallas Goedert “whooped up on” Eric Wilson in ping pong. Sirianni installed a ping pong table in the meeting room.
“I think about it, like, why am I competitive? I had two older brothers that beat the crap out of me all the time,” Sirianni said. “I had to be competitive, and I wanted to be competitive, and my dad made me be competitive. There has to be something to that. I’ve always thought that.”
Sirianni called Jake Elliott the most competitive guy on the roster. Makes sense for anyone who follows the Eagles kicker on social media.
“Don’t play him at ping-pong,” Sirianni said. “He’s phenomenal at everything.”
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Jalen Hurts Wowing Teammates, Coaches
The Eagles still haven’t officially named Jalen Hurts their starting quarterback. Everything is a competition. But to hear Sirianni talk about the second-year player, that job posting might be torn down soon. The head coach called Hurts a “relentless worker” who has equally impressed everyone in both the Zoom meetings and on the field.
“He comes to work every single day with the intent to get better every single day,” Sirianni said. “And I just saw, even from Zoom meetings when we got in, I just saw him take command of the offense, and really just take command of the offense and was just on it. You ask him a question, he’s on it. It’s really translated into walk-throughs on the field and in drill work.”
Boston Scott described a scene from a recent practice where Hurts ran in from the sideline and ran a receiver’s route. The quarterback is big on leading by example, making sure he knows the names of each and every teammate.
“He likes to teach,” Scott said. “Like we’ll be running routes and stuff like that and he’ll have his helmet on and he’ll take off his helmet and he’ll go run the route like this is what I mean. This is what I’m thinking so it should look like this, given this look.”
Final Message Before Training Camp
The Eagles were sent off into the great unknown after a spirited week of light drills. There wasn’t much to glean — except for this one-handed grab by DeVonta Smith — so Sirianni kept his final message to the team simple. He wants them to continue to practice good habits, stay out of trouble, and keep their bodies in tip-top shape. The latter is the most important thing.
“Because when you’re in the best physical shape of your life, now your football IQ and your fundamentals can really show,” Sirianni said. “That was the message to those guys and what I want them to work on in their offseason or in the summer.”
It was nice to actually get to know the players following last year’s virtual offseason. They could be in the building together and hand out high-fives and encouraging pats on the back. What a novel idea coming off the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“I think just getting them in the building was beneficial so we could connect together,” Sirianni said. “That’s different to walk into the meeting room and talk to them about their family, smack their hand and say what’s going on.”
The Eagles will return to the NovaCare Complex in mid-July to start training camp. The Sirianni Era is about to begin for real.