10 Takeaways from Howie Roseman’s End of Season Press Conference
With the 2021 season in the books and the 2022 offseason officially here, Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni had a joint season-ending press conference on Wednesday to discuss a variety of topics.
Here are my top 10 takeaways from Thursday's presser:
1. A commitment to Jalen Hurts
If you believe both Roseman and Sirianni, Jalen Hurts will be the Eagles starting quarterback in 2022 as both gave pretty clear endorsements of the quarterback remaining the starter in 2022.
"Jalen knows where he stands," Sirianni acknowledged. "He knows he is our quarterback. How do you know where you stand? You communicate and you talk over and over and over again. Jalen knows where he stands with us. I thought he did a great job of getting better throughout the year."
"There are no secrets there, he knows, he's our guy."
Roseman added that Hurts did everything they asked him to do back in training camp.
"We told him to take the bull by the horns back in camp and he certainly did that," Roseman said.
At this point, it seems like the important decision-makers have made their decision on Hurts moving forward, the one question is, has owner Jeffery Lurie?
There will be some QB options via trade or the draft, but for now, it seems pretty clear - Hurts is their guy.
2. Nick Sirianni has the full support of the front office.
When asked what he thought of the job first-year head coach Nick Sirianni did in his first season in charge, Roseman had plenty of praise.
“I think Nick is the same guy every day," Roseman says. "No matter what happened, he loves to coach this football team. He has an incredible passion for his job. He's an incredible leader. His messaging to the team -- some of those things that you think you know when you're interviewing someone, but you don't really get until you are part of it, were incredible."
"He has great communication skills. I know he would say this; that he's still developing. He is going to get better and better as he sees more things and more experience. I feel really fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him and excited about doing whatever I can to help him have success."
While by no means did anyone think Sirianni was on the hot seat, I think this shows that Roseman values his head coach and should be interesting to see what kind of input Sirianni has with the building of his roster moving forward.
3. No new news on Brandon Brooks
Roseman said he has yet to speak with Brandon Brooks regarding a possible retirement or his future.
"We had a lot of communication with Brandon," Roseman said. "It was really important for us to make sure that Brandon Brooks ended the season healthy and to make sure that he had an off-season where he was healthy, and he wasn't rehabbing. That is the extent of our communication."
"I met with him at the end of the season, and you're talking about one of the greatest players, one of the greatest guards in the history of the franchise. I have tremendous respect for him as a player and as a person. Those are the conversations we've had with Brandon up to this point."
If Brooks does in fact want to play another year, could we see Roseman wanting to bring back? That will be interesting, Brooks makes a lot of money, so there would be some dead money if the team moved on from him, but they could save about $3.5 million in cap space if they released him.
4. Building the team as a contender
The team has had different ways to building in the off-season based on where they think they are as an organization. Roseman was asked how he viewed the off-season and the stage the team is in now.
“It’s ironic that you asked this question because I have spent a lot of time thinking about some of our off-seasons and those transitions and some of the years where I thought maybe we needed a specific role or player to push us over when we had made the playoffs and maybe lost in the playoffs and some of the maybe mistakes for over-valuing that particular skill set, as opposed to really keeping building the team and getting players that fit the scheme and fit the culture that we're trying to build here and just really good players," Roseman stated.
"I think until you're really talking about a team that is hosting home playoff games and getting the one and two seed, you're in building mode. I think that's where we are right now."
"I think it gives us the opportunity with some of the assets we've acquired over the last year to continue to build and also look at our team and think that there are good players here. Players that will help us get to the playoffs.”
With the Eagles having three, first-round picks in 2022, the team has a real chance to take the next step moving forward, but don't expect them to deviate from their plan.
"I think we have a philosophy on how to build this team, a philosophy that we think has been successful," Roseman said. "Obviously, you'd like more championships every time you're out there, but we're going to stay committed to the way we think of building the team."
"In terms of having the three first-round picks, I think that it's important we bring in good players that fit the system that our coaches run and that also fit the fabric of this team. We have a lot of good players who are also good people. It's important for us to have those guys on the team."
"We don't go into a draft saying we are not going to do something. For us, it's all about the skill set of that particular player and the football character of that player. As we get more heavily into this draft and sitting down and having a lot of conversations with our coaching staff, we'll discuss all that stuff."
Sounds like you shouldn't expect the team to take a linebacker, safety or corner in round one this year in the draft, even if they have extra draft capital.
5. Brandon Graham will be back
Graham suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 2 and will be 34-years of age in April and during the 2022 season.
"In terms of BG, we miss BG," Roseman said. "We miss BG the player, and there is nobody who can replace BG, the person, the leader that he is as well. We know he's attacking this rehab. We see him every day around here. And he has a chip on his shoulder, and we do see a role for him going forward, and we are excited to get him back next year. He's a huge part of our football team."
While the Eagles sorely lacked what Graham brings to the table, what kind of player will he be at this stage of his career. He did lead the team in sacks each of the previous two seasons and is their best defensive end against the run.
6. Wide receiving position staying the same?
I’m not sure there’s a bigger discrepancy in how the fan base views the wide receiver need compared to Sirianni and Roseman.
Fans obviously have a bad taste in their mouth about this position, with misses on guys like J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor. They found guys later in the draft like Quez Watkins and Greg Ward as an undrafted free agent, but it seems they need to add more talent at that position.
However, Sirianni really seems to like the young WR talent in-house and said its the job of the staff to get more from the younger wideouts on the current roster.
"I feel really good about the wide receiver group as a whole," said Sirianni. "I think you have a number one guy in DeVonta Smith. I think he is a number one receiver, and he continues to get better. Why do I think he's a number one receiver? Because he can consistently win one-on-one, he can get the ball into his hands and make plays with the ball in his hand, maybe run a short pass. He catches everything. His competitive nature."
"I don’t think that there are a lot of true No. 1 receivers in the NFL, and I think we have one that is going to continue to get better."
Then I look at Quez Watkins, as he's our No. 2 wide receiver. He has big-time speed, and he has a knack to make plays. Of course, you always want to get – the style of offense that we played this year didn't allow for Quez to get as many touches as he probably deserves, but we did everything we could do to win each individual game."
"Quez has big-play ability in him. I think out of the No. 2 wide-outs I've been around in the NFL, he can be one of the best No. 2’s that I've been around in the NFL because of his skillset and because of his ability to make plays."
"I think a lot of us talk about Jalen Hurts and his ability to just be very steady. Quez Watkins is very – and that's a trait that we all value in Jalen Hurts – Quez Watkins is the same way. He's not going to get too up, he's not going to get too down throughout the course of a game, throughout the course of a year."
"I'm really pleased with him. To have two guys like that, that you really trust and you really are scheming open to trying to make plays, that's a big positive."
"Jalen Reagor, we want more production from Jalen Reagor and he has all the talent to do so. So, I like him in that No. 3 spot right now to be able to make plays because he has the skill, he has talent. It's our job as coaches to get that skill and that talent out of him so it produces on the field. And it's our job as coaches to put him in a position to succeed."
"And that's a two-way street. I'm not by any means saying I'm taking all the blame or all the credit or whatever it is, because it's a two-way street, and Jalen has to make the plays when the opportunity arises."
"But he does have an extreme talent for what we are considering a No. 3 receiver – to be able to make plays."
Sirianni also mentioned Ward as one of the main leaders on the team, the blocking element that Arcega-Whiteside adds to their running game.
"I'm pleased with this group," Sirianni added. "Again, you're not going to have the same statistical output when you're the type of offense that we were this year, but I am very pleased with this group. I know that this is a good group. Are we always going to look to add talent to the group and play-makers to the group? Of course. But I like where we sit right now as the wide receiver group, and I think we can continue to grow at that group because of the talent we have and the guys that we have in that room."
7. What's Fletcher's future?
The Eagles listened to calls for Fletcher Cox in-season at the trade deadline, but did not make a move.
Roseman was asked about moving Cox, and he gave an answer that you would expect.
"I think, first of all, it's our job to listen to everything and see if there are ways to improve our team," Roseman explained. "Obviously, Fletcher is a great player, and teams where we were at the deadline were making calls."
At defensive tackle, there is no doubt the team needs to get younger and start to look for a long-term solution, but it sounds like the short-term option will be that Cox will be back again.
"Our priorities are always going to be along the line of scrimmage, and obviously having him and Hargrave, and you see the growth from Milton [Williams] inside, that's a huge part of our defense and a huge part of our priorities."
"Fletch knew what was going on. We communicated with him. He's a guy that was a big part of the success that we had down the stretch. He can continue to take over games and be an incredible player, and we expect more from that going forward."
8. Don't expect changes to the staff (unless Jonathan Gannon is hired to be a head coach)
When asked if he planned on retaining his coaching staff, Sirianni seemed very happy with his young staff and their ability to grow together.
“Really, really like this staff and everything that we have in this staff right here," Sirianni stated. "I think that it's a great group of guys that work well together. I think that's really important that guys work well together within the building, and that starts by having a good group of guys and a good group of people that are talented at what they do."
As of right now, again, I'm evaluating everything like I would at the end of the year. I'm evaluating every player. I'm meeting with every player. I'm evaluating every coach. I'm meeting with every coach. I'm really happy with the people we have in this building. I'm really happy with the staff that we have, and I look forward to continuing to work with them.”
Again, unless Gannon gets hired to be a head coach someplace else, expect little to no changes from the Eagles with their staff.
9. What's the plan for Jalen Hurts this off-season?
While Sirianni was happy with the growth of his quarterback, he certainly understands that there is plenty of room for improvement for Hurts to become a better passer.
"When you talk about accuracy, accuracy starts with knowing where to go with the football, and then I'm always about the feet, the feet, the feet, the feet, and then the finish," Sirianni explained. " And so, Jalen did -- really, when you talk about that, is just getting your feet set, being able to set your target line where you want it to be set.
"That's a constant thing that you're doing. That's like shooting free throws, right. You have to put yourself in position over and over to get your target line set there, your foot, your toe on the dot, all the things that you go through there. It's the same thing with quarterback play. Any time you talk about accuracy, it's getting your feet set."
"And how do you get your feet set in the position where you want to throw it? It's through constant reps. So, it's the drills that we did throughout the entire year of getting his feet set to make the throws that he needed to make, and he needs to make in the year."
"I definitely think he got better at that, but that is -- accuracy is something that you always as a quarterback want to have that trajectory going forward. So, we'll be continuing to do those drills that we did."
10. Run first offense in 2022?
The Eagles had the top rushing team in the NFL in 2021, but had a tough time running the ball in their Wild Card playoff loss to Tampa Bay. There have been reports suggesting that the front office would like to see the team be more of a pass-first team, but is that something Roseman wants to see a change in 2022?
"I think our goal is to win as many games as possible, and however that comes about is something that makes us happy. I don't think I've ever walked into the locker room unhappy with a win."
"I think Coach and his staff do a great job of fitting to the personnel. It's kind of ironic because a year ago today was our first meeting with Coach and one of the things he said that really won us over is his scheme is going to be dependent on the players and personnel and he was going to utilize our personnel in the way that they would be able to maximize their talents and for us to win games."
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