New Eagles defensive end Ryan Kerrigan met the media on Monday for the first time since agreeing to terms on a one-year deal last week. The four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher is certainly quite familiar with Philadelphia after several outstanding clashes during his 10-year stint in Washington. But he was not familiar with the new coaching staff prior to being recruited by the Eagles and it turned out to be one of the key reasons why he's now in midnight green.
"I had a really great visit here. It's hard to put a finger on it, but the energy in the building was just so positive, so good from Coach (Nick) Sirianni to Coach (Jonathan) Gannon to Coach (Tracy) Rocker, you felt a good, positive sense of energy here. Coach Gannon knows ball. He knows his personnel and I feel like he's gonna put us in the position that's conducive to us being successful," Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan certainly understands what it's like to transition to a new coaching staff, having done so twice during his time in Washington. Three times, Kerrigan's teams have reached the postseason, so he knows some common threads between winning and losing teams. And while it's early, he likes what Sirianni is preaching.
"You got to build a culture of caring for each other and I feel like that's what Coach Sirianni is really trying to do here is allowing us to connect and really build some great relationships," Kerrigan said. "The best teams I've been on that I was on in Washington, we all really connected in the building and out of the building. I know that's what Coach Sirianni is trying to build here because it definitely translates to performance on the field."
On the field, Kerrigan left Washington as the franchise's all-time leader with 95.5 sacks. A model of consistency, he's posted at least 5.5 in all 10 of his NFL seasons. Last year, Kerrigan reached that number despite playing only 38 percent of the defensive snaps. What role does he expect to play in Philadelphia?
"I don't have a target number of snaps. However many reps I'm on the field, I want to be able to be impactful, make plays, and just do stuff to help the team," he said.
At the same time, Kerrigan doesn't shy away from serving the team as a mentor to the younger players on the roster, especially while trying to help Sirianni set the foundation of the program. Kerrigan's role in Washington decreased in large part due to the fact that first-round picks were invested in edge rushers in both 2019 and 2020.
"I've been fortunate to be in this league a long time, 10 years, and so I feel like I've learned a lot," Kerrigan said. "I've been able to gather a lot whether it's from different players, different coaches, different experiences. I feel like I got a lot to pass on from the mental side of the game and I'm excited ot do that with some the guys here like I'd done with some of the guys in Washington over the years."
Kerrigan will wear No. 90 for the Eagles as he joins a deep and talented and veteran D-line room that includes the likes of Pro Bowl standouts Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham. Kerrigan appreciated his former rivals reaching out to him to help cajole him into coming to Philadelphia. Another familiar face for Kerrigan is All-Pro offensive tackle Lane Johnson. The two share a deep respect for one another after enduring several heavyweight showdowns over the past decade.
"He's right there at the top of the league in terms of right tackles. He's been impressive really since day one," Kerrigan said. "Every year when the schedule would come out, I'd kind of look at when the two games against Philadelphia would be because I knew that's when I would have to go against Lane two times. He's a hell of a player. There's a reason he's been at the top of his game for so long.
"I'm excited to work with him and practice each day because I feel like that's only going to make us both better. It's gonna be a lot more fun than going against him in games, that's for sure."