Eagles rookie head coach Nick Sirianni was asked if for his reasoning to hold practice at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday he looked right at the assembled media and said…” We're going to play there on Sunday.”
Since timing is everything with humor, Sirianni’s timing was perfect because he got his audience to crack up.
“I'm not saying it like that,” Sirianni said with a smile. “But it is, it really is the main reason why is so, hey, we're playing there Sunday. We have an easy trip to get over there. Not every stadium is right next to their facility. If it matters this much, it's worth it, right?”
Sirianni tends to answer perceived follow up questions before they are asked…he did that here.
“So the receivers get to see the ball a certain way in that stadium,” he said. “The DBs get to see the ball. Jake, Jalen get to feel the wind and how that moves in that stadium. Just the surroundings of being there getting ready, just practicing, executing plays in that stadium. I do really believe -- is it a huge difference? Not a huge difference. Even if it's that much, it's worth our time to go over there.”
Sirianni brought up a good point. The Linc is right across the street. Why not use it. Many franchises like the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, Washington Football Team and Pittsburgh Steelers must travel a distance to access their home field. The Birds could walk there if they wanted to. They can shower and roll right from the stadium. It’s their home.
“The other thing is that's our home field,” Sirianni said. “If you get eight games or ten games at that stadium, imagine how much more it feels like your home than when you're 20 games. So put a lot of thought into that. There was one place I've done that before in the past. I always thought that was really a good idea. It was in Kansas City. The stadium was close to the practice facility, and that's why we do it.”
Sirianni is looking for any edge he can get when his team faces a major upgrade this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers (1:00 PM FOX).
Both teams scored big in their respective openers. The Eagles (1-0) knocked of a suspect Atlanta Falcons team 32-6. The Falcons played decently for a quarter then rolled over.
San Francisco (1-0) rolled out to a 38-10 lead over the Detroit Lions with 7:54 left in the third quarter. The 49ers seemed to fall apart after that as the Lions outscored the visitors 23-3, but held on to win 41-33.
The 49ers will throw a front seven at the Eagles line led by Nick Bosa, who registered three tackles for loss against Detroit.
Also Dee Ford can cause havoc from his defensive line position. Linebacker Fred Warner registered 11 tackles in the Detroit win.
On offense, the 49ers will be without starting cornerback Jason Verrett and running back Raheem Mostert. Verrett is out for the season with a torn ACL and Mostert, a former Eagle, is expected to miss about half the season with a knee issue. The 49ers will have rookie Elijah Mitchell, who rushed 19 times for 104 yards and a touchdown against Detroit. Was it a mirage? The Eagles run defense will try to make it look like it was.
The Birds defense will be led by defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who sacked Matt Ryan twice last week. Eric Wilson carded nine tackles in his Philly debut and Darius Slay registered a defended pass against Atlanta, his 106th career PD, which is tops in the NFL since 2014.
The Eagles offensive line stayed healthy which obviously will be key all year long.
So far, for once in a long time, the Eagles head into week two with little or no adversity. They are healthy…knock on wood.
Can the Eagles continue to play well without adversity?
“I think the message has been clear ever since the beginning. We had a talk about adversity. You kind of think -- somebody asked me about do you have a talk for each thing, and I kind of said I do, but we had a talk about adversity, and when adversity hits,” Sirianni said. “Because it's going to hit, right? And how you handle that.
“What are the things that you really believe in that you double down on when adversity hits? Well, that's the same thing when you have success too. It's got to be the same mindset. So my message to them was, if you stick to the things that you really believe in and you double down on the things that you really believe in -- connect, compete, accountability, football IQ, fundamentals -- and you double down on that, no matter if you win or if you lose, you're going to set yourself up to be in good shape because we know those are the things that help you win and lose games.”
Sirianni loves to refer to each week in boxing terms. Last week was round one…now it is round two against the 49ers. And he says that is all he and his players think about…this is just round two.
“So that's been the message, but I think the guys have really handled it this week great,” Sirianni said. “We know it's one game. It's round one. That just can never be forgotten. We're not thinking about that game. We're thinking only about this game this coming week.”
Note: The highly touted, talented and injury prone rookie interior lineman Landon Dickerson has been a full participant in practice all week. Sirianni would not say whether the massive Alabama All American would be activated, or if he was playing this week.
"We'll hold that close to us, just for right now," Sirianni said.
The Eagles enter the 49ers game pretty healthy, but the injuries are certain to come, especially to the offensive line. With Jack Driscoll still sidelined with a pectoral strain, the Eagles would be wise to get their prized second round pick some action, even if it is just special teams. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii