“We Have Winners”
Sirianni: Process Same Vs. Bucs, Hopeful RB Sanders Can Return
First-year Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni is preparing this week for his first playoff game.
Some of his most significant players, including quarterback Jalen Hurts and top receiver DeVonta Smith, have never appeared in an NFL postseason game.
The team on the opposite side, the second-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are the defending Super Bowl champions and led by six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, the most successful quarterback in the sport’s history.
But on Monday, Sirianni insisted that practice and prep this week won’t be different than any other week.
“We’re not gong into this game saying this is different than any other game we play,” Sirianni said in his virtual press conference. “Process remains the same of how we go about our business.”
Sirianni, who coached in the postseason as an offensive coordinator under Colts coach Frank Reich in 2018 and 2020, said teams that are “process-driven and results-aware” maintain the proper mind-set and balance for the postseason, because they don’t typically “ride the highs and lows of the season.”
Sure, he said, there will be some extra attention this year, from media and fans.
But Sirianni said he and his coaches will make sure the environment around the team stays as similar as it can to a regular-season game.
Sirianni also acknowledged that both teams aren’t quite the same as they were when the Bucs beat the Eagles at the Lin, 28-22, in Week 6 on a Thursday night. The Bucs led 28-7 in the fourth quarter before the Eagles scored two garbage-time touchdowns.
The Eagles have changed some personnel on defense and have since switched to a run-heavy offensive concept that enabled the team to finish 7-3 after a 2-5 start. The Bucs have lost wide receivers Antonio Brown, who was cut after quitting on the team against the Jets in Week 17, and Chris Godwin, who tore his ACL recently.
In the first meeting, Brady completed 81 percent of his passes and threw two touchdowns en route to a 102.1 passer rating. Bucs running backs also ran for 101 yards on 27 carries.
Sirianni said he’s “hopeful” to have running backs Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard and Boston Scott active for the game. Sanders has missed the past two games after undergoing a procedure to repair a broken hand. Howard played Week 17 despite nursing a stinger and slight shoulder sprain but ran for just 26 yards on 11 carries, then missed the season finale along with Scott after both were placed on the Reserve/Covid-19 list.
“Now, we have some great players on this football team that have played in the ultimate bowl game … in the Super Bowl,” said Sirianni, referring to the Eagles’ 41-33 win over Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52. “What a great opportunity those guys have that were here in 2017 to lead the group going through the playoffs. I’m confident we have winners on this football team. We have winners on this team that know how to win.
“So we go about that same process. We don’t make it bigger than what it is. We understand the consequences of, ‘You lose you go home, you win you move on.’ But again … the process remains the same because every game you play in the NFL is big, and if you don’t treat it like that you’re not going to be in the position that we’re in right now. So don’t change now and keep it rolling.”
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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