INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni today spoke to local reporters via video conference. What did he have to say about his expectations for quarterback Philip Rivers heading into Sunday's season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, how every player on the roster needs to stay ready, why he was so pumped driving into work today and more?
You can catch that entire session above, but here are some top takeaways:
» Sirianni laid out his expectations for quarterback Philip Rivers with Sunday's season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars now officially here: It was almost six months ago that the Colts made a huge splash by signing the free agent Rivers to a one-year deal to be their new starting quarterback, and since that time, by all accounts, he's done a solid job coming in and making his mark on the offense.
Now it's simply time to go out and play football. The Colts open up the season on Sunday in Jacksonville, and Sirianni, who has plenty of previous experience with Rivers from their time together with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, is confident in the eight-time Pro Bowler going out and getting the job done.
"I expect him to be the guy that leads the offense," Sirianni said. "We know how accurate he is and how he's a great decision maker. He's accurate, he makes good fast decisions — so I expect that out of him in the pass game. Getting us into the right protection call, because he studies blitzes and the opposing team more than anyone I've ever been around.
"Then in the run game, just running the show, checking when he needs to, getting people in position to make plays," Sirianni continued. "So I just expect the same from what I've (experienced) — obviously we have a lot of years and a lot of history with him. Just, I expect the same Philip Rivers that we had when we were in San Diego together."
» Backups and even practice squad players need to be ready to play major roles on a weekly basis: With a health crisis raging on across the world, the 2020 season is already expected to look different than any other year in NFL history. The COVID-19 protocols and regulations put into place across the league have made it possible for every team to start their regular seasons on time, but from here, nobody knows how the virus will play a role on gameday.
Some teams have already adopted some drastic measures to best ensure COVID-19 doesn't infiltrate the most important position on the field; the Philadelphia Eagles, for example, have signed 41-year-old Josh McCown to their practice squad to be their "emergency quarterback." McCown won't even normally be located at the Eagles' team facility; in fact, he'll be conducting virtual meetings and staying in shape on his own at his home in Texas, according to reports.
Sirianni didn't go much into detail about the Colts' quarterback plans this season — the team currently has three QBs (Rivers, Jacoby Brissett and Jacob Eason) on its 53-man roster and one QB (Chad Kelly) on its practice squad) — but said the coaching staff has stressed that if you're on the team, whether on the active roster or practice squad, it's imperative that you think of yourself as a key contributor.
"We're just preparing all of them as if they had to play, and that's really honestly how we're treating every backup and every practice squad player," Sirianni said. "Because we know we have to have confidence in every guy — and we do have confidence in every guy as far as their ability — but we have to have confidence in their mental preparation for the week to be ready to go."
» Normally a fiery guy in general, Sirianni had even more juice than usual driving to work today: Maybe it's the fact it's been a long offseason, maybe it's just the typical boost you feel when you know it's officially Week 1 of the regular season, but there's definitely a pep in everyone's step at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center this week.
After an off day on Monday, the players returned to the facility on Tuesday to officially begin preparations for Sunday's opener against the Jaguars, and Sirianni was so ready to attack the day that he turned on the playlist usually reserved for gamedays — you know, Eminem, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross — as he drove into work.
"As I was driving in this morning I just had, like, butterflies in my stomach. Like — it's game week. Let's go," Sirianni said. "I was super excited this morning. You can feel the energy in the building."