Rise of Kenny Gainwell, Jalen Reagor Steps in

See what the Eagles' offensive coordinator and special teams coach had to say about Sunday's loss to the Chiefs in this notebook
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PHILADELPHIA – Jonathan Gannon took center stage on Tuesday when all three coordinators met in person with reporters inside the media tent outside the locker room and various offices.

The defensive coordinator had plenty to say about his failing defense, but the other two, Shane Steichen and Michael Clay, had some interesting points to make as well.

Here’s a closer look at Steichen and Clay:

RISE OF GAINWELL

Kenny Gainwell’s rise within the offense has come at the expense of some snaps for Miles Sanders, but Sanders is still a big component in the game plan.

“I think Miles is fine,” said Steichen, the offensive coordinator. “We all know that Miles is a heck of a football player, obviously. And we want to get Miles the ball as much as we can.”

On that, he and head coach Nick Sirianni agree.

Gainwell, however, was more productive against the Kansas City Chiefs, running three times for 31 yards and a 7-yard touchdown run, his second rush score of the young season, and catching six of eight targets for 58 yards.

One of his receptions went for 12 yards on fourth-and-two from the 20.

“I think he's got really good hands and he's got a great ability to find the dead spots in zones and his speed,” said Steichen. “We’ve hit some shallows to him, so his speed is big. He's got really good hands. He's got a good feel for that.”

Meanwhile, Sanders averaged 1.9 yards on seven carries against the Chiefs and is still seeking his first TD of 2021.

Finding reps for both players is a new discussion each week for Steichen and Sirianni.

“We put guys in position – what we think guys do best, and then we put them in position to make plays,” said the OC. “So, if we feel that Kenny gives us the best chance in this situation to make a play, we'll put him in. Same thing with Miles. If we think he gives the best chance in a situation, we put Miles in.”

REAGOR RETURN

When Quez Watkins got a bit dinged during the game, Jalen Reagor went to Clay, the ST coach, and told him he could return the next kickoff.

Reagor returned it 44 yards to put the Eagles in good field position and helped set up a 56-yard touchdown drive that pulled the Eagles to within 28-23 with 12:46 to play in the game.

“Jalen came up to me and said, ‘Hey, I see Quez is kind of banged up, I’ll take this. Just take a load off his plate,’” Clay recalled. “And, you know, when you have guys like that that want to help each other out for the betterment of the team, it's awesome. Jalen saw his moment and 44 yards later, he took it.

“So, it was a cool moment to see two young guys, not a veteran, two young guys having each other’s back for the betterment of the team. And it helped us get closer in that game.”

Clay wouldn’t say if Reagor will have more of a role in the kickoff return game.

NO PUNTS

The Eagles didn’t need a punt returner because the Chiefs never punted. Neither did the Eagles, but Arryn Siposs still took the field as the holder for Jake Elliott on the kicker’s three field goals and three PATs.

That led to not one but two quotes of the day, both from Clay when it came to Siposs.

First: “Arryn is very sore from doing absolutely nothing besides holding.”

Second: “We didn't give him a pillow or a blanket for him to take a nap during that (special team) session, he's always into what we're talking about.”

HURTS AND CONSISTENCY

As well as Hurts played against Kansas City, Steichen said the 23-yard-old quarterback now needs to show that kind of performance week in and week out.

“I think, more than anything, he's continuing to grow,” he said. “And the consistency is the biggest thing right now with him, and he's continuing.

“You know, we got to keep stacking those games on top of each other, just the consistency. Obviously, the completions he's getting, the big plays he's creating, we got to continue to do that.”

It would be good to see Hurts progress against good defenses, and Sunday will be a big test since the Carolina Panthers have the second-best pass defense in the league and third-ranked unit overall.

J.J. OPI

It didn’t look like much of an offensive pass interference call on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, but it was called and it took a touchdown catch away from Zach Ertz.

“Obviously, the guy that was covering Zach, right, we're trying to create an interference there,” said the OC. “Obviously, the guy bubbled over the top. It was a tough call. They called it and it's something we got to live with, and we got to go from there.”

Steichen elaborated a bit later when he said that Arcega-Whiteside’s elbow may have gotten too far away from his body and the ref saw it.

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Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.