For Philadelphia Eagles, Even 6-0 ‘Isn’t Good Enough’

The Philadelphia Eagles could be forgiven if they took it easy this week. Sitting at 6-0, the NFL’s lone unbeaten team, and fresh off a 26-17 win over their arch rivals from Dallas, the Eagles are in a prime position during this, their lone off week of the 2022 season.

It will not surprise you that head coach Nick Sirianni doesn’t see it this way.

“You kind of go in with a couple different things, right?,” Sirianni told the media on Monday. “You go in with a general thing of what you want to look at, where you are successful, where you aren’t successful, so that will kind of tell the story.

“Then it will lead to other projects as we watch these things. Then there are a couple areas we are looking at right now that we want to improve on. So, we’ll look at that.

“There are always things to work on, right? Always things to work on. So, I actually think that we can be even more demanding and more crazy about, you know, what the standard is when you are 6-0.

“I think being 6-0 is awesome, but I think you can put your foot on everybody and say, ‘You like this? This feel good?’ All right, then we got to keep going and really dive in even harder.

“It’s not to say you don’t do that when you’re 0-6 or 2-5, or whatever, but it’s just easier to really get after everything because I think there is no feelings are involved when you’re 6-0. It’s like, hey, let’s go. This isn’t good enough, and let’s get it better.

“So, yeah, looking forward to the process this week.”

For a coach who declared that his team had yet to “play a complete game”, this is understandable. But it was hard to escape the idea that the Eagles have found ways to implement Sirianni’s vision on a basic level, even in ways that weren’t as flashy.

Take the punt late in the fourth quarter of the Dallas game by Arryn Siposs. The 30-yard punt pinned Dallas back to its own 12-yard line, and all but sealed the game. Not only was the distance of the punt pre-ordained, even the shape of the punt had been called for ahead of time.

“Situational football right there,” Eagles special teams coordinator Michael Clay told reporters on Tuesday. “You can see how dangerous No. 9 [Kavonte Turpin] is, and he was probably going to try and return that even in the end zone. It’s something that [P] Arryn [Siposs] and myself and [Special Teams Quality Control coach] Tyler [Brown] and all the special teams coaches talk about, is putting something on film that we know he’s not going to really try to return there.

“Obviously, that late in the game and you still have to make him go 88 yards. All right, you’ll bite the net average all day on that one. He had one of those we like to call them banana balls where it’s flailing away from them to the right, so it may look weird on TV or to the naked eye if you don’t know what you’re looking at.

“It’s going to definitely get those returners to not really attempt to catch that ball. If they do try to attempt it, it’s going to be tough to catch it. It was one of those things where it’s situational football where we could actually affect how the returner is going to catch it.

“We talked about it, and if they got to go 88 yards in whatever that time was, two and a half minutes, three minutes, in a two-score game, I think we were settled on that, and I thought he did a good job with it.”

On both touchdown passes by Jalen Hurts, too, the Eagles capitalized less on play calls then from the ability of Hurts to find first DeVonta Smith, then A.J. Brown improvising. It reflects a growth of continuity that is all the more extraordinary for Smith, a young player in his second season, and Brown, in his first year with the club.

“We kept moving the ball,” Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said Tuesday. “We just kept going down the field with it and it was working. Then you got to a second and ten and it was like, let’s get the ball to our playmaker’s hand, and we hit [WR] A.J. [Brown] on that little underneath route and he created the explosive. Then we went right back on and hit DeVonta for the touchdown. Really good drive right there by everybody.”

Not that Steichen was ready to rest on this team’s 6-0 start, either.

“Right now, we’re going through the self-scout process,” he said. “Actually, I just took a break. We have been going since 9:00 this morning. We’re really just looking at what we’re doing well, what we need to improve on. We look at where we are around the league statistically and categories and then we look at two-minute situations, four-minute, backed up, first, second down, run-pass tendency, bi-formation, motions, shifts, all those different things, because at some point you’re going to have tells and we got to break those tells.

“So those are the things we’re working on now.”