Rare: Nick Sirianni Details a Couple of Plays from the San Francisco Game
Most of the midweek press conferences at NovaCare result in nothing interesting being said, but this between Jimmy Kempski and Nick Sirianni was a nice change of pace:
Q. I wanted to ask you about two different plays in that game, the first being the first play of the game on offense, where the safety bit on the play action. TE Jack Stoll ran right by him, seemed to be wide open. Another play a little later, you had WR A.J. Brown running deep, TE Albert Okwuegbunam on the 15 yard out, I think Jack Stoll on a little flat route, Albert O. was wide open–(Jimmy Kempski)
NICK SIRIANNI: I know what plays you’re talking about.
Q. On those two plays, should QB Jalen Hurts have pulled the trigger on both of those? Is there anything to him maybe not because it’s players that he isn’t often throwing to in practice?(Jimmy Kempski)
NICK SIRIANNI: Obviously we go through each play and talk about how to read it and things like that. On that particular play, on the first play, speaking of, our design was to go, without getting too much into it, was Jack was part of the play to clear out. If you ask the quarterback to read everything on the field, you’re going to affect his ability to read some things on the field.
And that’s just how I’ve always believed to coach the quarterback and just get him just focused on this one part. Again, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, when I go work a guy out or something like that, they’re like, ‘well, I had to look from here, here, here, here, here.’
When you have to look at so much, again, your processing speed is going to slow down, and you’re going to hold the ball a little bit longer and the rush is going to get there. You have to define reads a little different. I’m telling you that Jack wasn’t part of that read. When something like that happens and a guy pops, I’ll always take that. Jack popped. I got it. But he wasn’t part of the read, and that’s how I told Jalen to read it that day.
As far as your second question, it’s really hard, like the snap, the quarterback-center exchange wasn’t clean there, right? He’s picking that ball off the ground. That’s tough, right? That’s tough. Any time you’re grading more about the snap in the center-QB exchange than you are about, ‘hey, Jalen should have thrown the ball right here because,’ you’re not in a rhythm. It’s boom, I have to pick the ball off the ground. I’ve got to get here. That’s really hard.
In my eyes, when we put our numbers on the film of, ‘hey, what happened here,’ Jalen’s number is not on there for that one because it was more about that exchange than it was the read of the play.
The film guys got into both of these plays.
Here’s the first one, from Shane Haff:
On the 1st play of the game, the Eagles dial up a PA pass to take advantage of the 49ers safeties flowing hard downhill against the run. pic.twitter.com/4USskvUAtR
— Shane Haff (@ShaneHaffNFL) December 6, 2023
Now Sirianni notes that Stoll was “was part of the play to clear out…. I’m telling you that Jack wasn’t part of that read.” So if he’s clearing out, then DeVonta Smith on the dig route is there and it looks like that’s Quez Watkins coming out of the slot on a deep crosser. Regardless, the ball isn’t thrown.
On the second one, Jalen Hurts dropped Jason Kelce’s funky snap, but there’s a moment here where Albert O is wide open because Fred Warner got spun into cotton candy:
Albert O wide open on this play but Nick Sirianni said Wednesday that “Jalen’s number is not on there for that one because it was more about that exchange than it was the read of the play.” pic.twitter.com/4p0TGsYpx7
— Kevin Kinkead (@Kevin_Kinkead) December 7, 2023
You can go back through the film and nitpick and find instances where a guy was open and Hurts didn’t look there, or perhaps the teammate was a decoy or running a dummy route or just clearing space. No QB is nailing every single read, play after play after play, nor do we know the specific roles of every guy on the team for every play.
But there’s a lingering thought that Jalen throws to DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown, and Dallas Goedert, and then only goes elsewhere if he has to. The backup tight ends really don’t get many targets at all. In fact, tight ends not named Goedert have 7 targets this season through 12 games, and all 7 have gone to Stoll, who has four receptions for 27 yards. Same thing with Quez and Olamide Zaccheaus, who only have 23 targets total and 14 catches. It’s not a big deal in a vacuum, because Brown and Smith are both 1,000-yard quality receivers, but with Goedert out, there’s a lot of shorter and intermediate tight end stuff that isn’t being run or thrown, and you lose Goedert’s skill in the screen game as well. It’ll be nice to have him back, hopefully Sunday in Dallas.