Nick Sirianni can run hot at times but he boiled over on Friday night.
And for good reason.
In the first quarter of the Eagles’ preseason opener, Jalen Hurts ran out of bounds only to take a very late cheap shot from linebacker Quincy Williams, who was flagged for unnecessary roughness. Sirianni charged onto the field and TV cameras caught him shouting expletives across to the Jets’ sideline.
“I was just sticking up for Jalen,” Sirianni said.
He wasn’t alone.
Immediately after the hit — one which Jets head coach Robert Saleh called “egregiously awful” — left tackle Jordan Mailata was the first Eagles player in Williams’ face. Right behind him were Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo and more.
“I can’t really repeat what I said,” Mailata said. “When I’m on the field, I kind of have a potty mouth. Can’t really repeat anything I say. I saw red. I really did.”
Mailata and the rest of the Eagles were able to maintain their cool and didn’t let their emotions get the best of them … but they really wanted to. Mailata said he thought about giving a good head butt as retaliation but his recent stint in the NFL’s concussion protocol ended that thought pretty quickly.
What was clear by their visceral reactions to the cheap shot was just how much they have Hurts’ back. Even for Mailata, who didn’t grow up playing football, that instinct is natural.
“Yes,” he said. “Protect my family.”
After the hit and the penalty, Hurts simply popped back up off the ground on the Jets’ sideline, got back in the huddle and finished off the Eagles’ opening touchdown drive. The Eagles ended up losing the game 24-21 but they had to be extremely encouraged by how their starters played.
Hurts was 6-for-6 for 80 yards and a touchdown on his only series of Friday night. After taking the late hit from Williams, Hurts completed both of his passes, including a 22-yard touchdown strike to Dallas Goedert.
Receiver A.J. Brown said he thought Hurts should have slid on that particular play before the late hit. But Hurts was well out of bounds before the shot from Williams.
While Hurts tried to shrug off the hit — “They called a flag. We moved on,” Hurts said — he was clearly appreciative about the support from his head coach and teammates.
“Yeah, I think that’s what we’re about,” Hurts said. “In the end, I think that’s us having each other’s backs. That’s Philly. That’s Coach Sirianni. That’s Jordan Mailata. That’s (Jason) Kelce. That’s some of the defensive guys. [Dallas Goedert]. You know, just everybody.”
In this case, the Eagles were able to support their quarterback without getting kicked out of the game or doing something that would levy a fine or suspension from the NFL.
“We ran over there and didn’t do nothing,” Johnson said. “We were like a big dog that ran to the fence and didn’t do a whole lot. If you do something, then you get suspended. We didn’t like it.”
After the game, Sirianni admitted he should have handled the situation a little better. As he was on the field shouting NSFW words to the opposing sideline, he had to be corralled back to the Eagles’ bench.
Sirianni’s temper briefly got the best of him while his team was watching. Generally, that’s something he wants to try to avoid.
But in this case, maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing.
“That’s why we love Nick,” Mailata said. “That’s why we have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Because he’s a players coach and he has raw emotion. You guys saw it on the sideline.”
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