JONATHAN GANNON: Just want to start and say our thoughts and prayers are with [Buffalo Bills S] Damar [Hamlin] and his family and the whole Buffalo Bills team. [Sounds like] he’s doing better, so we’ve just been praying about it. That’s a scary thing to see, but I’m glad he is doing better. It’s been heavy on our hearts, and we’ve been thinking about him.
Going back to the game briefly, I thought we did some good things. Kept the score down, but we need to start a little bit faster because I think we put our offense in a tough spot. Being on the bench, whatever that drive took, the first drive, and they ended up scoring some points.
Got it rolling a little bit and kept some points off the board, did good situationally, got some things cleaned up, and on to the New York Giants.
Q. What was there in that first drive you didn’t like? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: I think I could have helped them out with a couple of better calls, honestly, Reuben. Then it always comes down to execution, and I think we gave up an explosive. They had a couple of third downs and then used the quarterback run game a little bit, which we held up, but when they have to gain a yard or two, it’s tough with the multiplicity that they use that guy.
I think the players executed at a pretty good level. It’s just we gave up a couple of plays. We just have to clean some things up and play a little cleaner.
Q. When you leave a game like that, the points looked pretty good from your perspective, but do you view it differently given the way it started, the flow of that game? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: Points is the ultimate thing, the main thing I’m concerned with is, did we do enough on our side to help our team win or put ourselves in position to win the game?
You’ve heard me talk about it. I don’t love when our offense is sitting on the bench for that long. We have a very explosive offense, and you want to see them on the field.
With saying that, if you get out of it with a field goal there, you feel a little bit better. But it’s always going to come down to us playing the right things and executing and trying to take the ball away and get our offense on the field.
Q. S C.J. Gardner-Johnson obviously played a lot in the slot with New Orleans. He’s mainly played safety for you here. How difficult would it be for him to play the slot in your scheme — well, how easy or difficult would it be for him to make that transition if you needed him to do that? (Jimmy Kempski)
JONATHAN GANNON: [S] Chauncey [Gardner-Johnson] is a very versatile player. We have a lot of guys in that room that are versatile pieces. When we decide whoever is up and we look at the game plan, we look at our people, we look at their people and decide what’s best to try to defend the team that we’re playing.
All those guys in that room we use their versatility, as you see when we get in different packages and different groups and how we deploy guys.
When Chauncey is good and ready to go and if he’s back out there, we’ll keep doing the same thing with him.
Q. How do you plan for the Giants when you don’t really know who is going to be active, whether it’s going to be Giants QB Daniel Jones or Giants QB Tyrod Taylor? (Merrill Reese)
JONATHAN GANNON: Good question, Merrill. We’re preparing like they’re playing everybody, and then you have to be able to adjust with who’s out there, with who’s playing.
But, ultimately, it’s really — that’s what we always say in our room. It’s really about us. The execution and how we play, and then knowing that with other guys that you’re playing, who they have out there, what their skill sets are and what kind of calls we need to get to versus different people that try to defend them the best way.
But our guys are focused on what we need to do as a defense to play good, clean football and give ourselves a chance to win.
Q. You mentioned before that sacks by themselves aren’t a winning stat. Can you take us behind the ‘why’ of that a little bit? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: The ‘why,’ I think – there are two kinds of winning stats out there that this organization hangs their hat on. I’ve talked about it because I’m in agreement with him. How the game is played today, it’s take-aways and explosive plays.
But knowing what you have to do as a defense to affect the game in a positive way, affecting the quarterback is up there. So in and of itself it’s not a winning stat, but we want to hit and affect the quarterback, and sacks go into that.
So our guys are doing a really good job with that, and we’ll continue in known pass to win those downs. Sacks, if you just look at that stat, it’s really all 11, and I’ve talked about that. It’s coordinated rushes. It’s guys winning with one-on-ones. It’s the back end doing the right thing, if you’ve got seven, six, five in coverage.
Everyone has got to be coordinated. They’ve got to stay connected and really do their jobs and then you see the production come.
Q. We’ve seen DT Milton Williams flash increasingly over the last month or so. Is he a candidate to maybe get some of the reps that DE Josh Sweat normally would get on the edge? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: We’ll see. We’ll see who’s up. We always talk about a pair and a spare and what guys can do what. He is a very versatile player, just as you talked about with C.J. We’ll use him accordingly to help us win.
Q. With what you said about sacks, though, how impressive would it be for you guys if you were to get five more and get the all-time NFL record? Does that mean anything to you? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: You want to see your guys do well and produce at a high level, and we have really good players. I think it’s a testament to the coaches that our players are doing what they’re coached to do.
Then on top of that, they have great detail and great talent. You’re going to see those guys produce. But, ultimately, I’m concerned about winning in the game however we need to do that, so that’s always at the forefront of my mind.
Q. The disparity is pretty clear from 31 in sacks last year to first this year. Is that a cause or an effect of the defense improvement? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: I think both. You know what I mean? That’s a good question, Zach. That’s an area that we wanted to affect the quarterback more. If it comes with sacks, great. If it comes with better coverage and making the quarterback hold it and reset, great. If it’s better with disguises…
You know all those things, the weapons that you have at your disposal as a defense to try to affect the quarterback, we wanted to improve all of that.
Then I think it’s just really a testament to the players of winning a lot of one-on-ones and staying connected and doing the right things and helping each other out. We always say the whole phrase of ‘do your job so your buddy can have success doing his,’ to me the sack numbers is a really a direct correlation of that because you see multiple times where guys are setting other guys up for sacks, which is awesome to see because that’s why it’s the ultimate team game is football.
Q. Your goal is a team goal, of course, but as an individual do you think LB Haason Reddick deserves consideration as a defensive player of the year? (Merrill Reese)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, I don’t know what his sack numbers are.
Q. 16. (Merrill Reese)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, he is up there. He is one of the best players in the NFL. I would say that. [Jokingly] You know, if I didn’t drop him so much, he would probably have 25.
Q. Is that a shot at us? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: That’s not a shot at you. That’s a kudos in [LB] Haason [Reddick]’s hat to do whatever we need to do. He will do whatever we ask him to do to win the game. That’s what you talk about. That’s what you want out of your elite defenders is to be team-first and put themselves second behind the team, and that’s what he does.
Q. You mentioned Buffalo Bills S Damar Hamlin. You guys went through your own scary situation with Josh Sweat. How difficult is it for you to refocus, and how impressed were you about the guys refocusing? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: It’s hard. There’s obviously a human element. You see guys on the ground. We went through it with guys all this year, whether Chauncey or [DE] Josh [Sweat].
The game kind of goes to the back of your mind at that moment because all you’re really concerned there is the health of the player.
But then knowing that once the whistle blows, you have a job so do as well, so you’ve got to kind of compartmentalize that. Our staff does a great job here because I think within — after that first drive [Vice President of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Tom] Hunk [Hunkele] came up to me and said, ‘Sweaty is okay,’ and that kind of helped me a little bit.
But you have to refocus, and you have a job to do, and you have to do it. But you guys know, injuries happen in the game of football. It’s a violent contact sport. Ultimately, we appreciate those guys laying it on the line all the time with what they do. It’s entertainment for the world, but they’re sacrificing a lot, and we appreciate that.
Q. There’s a player sentiment in the locker room yesterday that maybe the team or players were looking — weren’t as focused in as they needed to be on the task at hand in recent weeks. That the energy didn’t match the Saints at least early on. Does that kind of match what you have seen? How do you make sense of it? Do you think it’s just kind of a situational thing, and where do you think things stand? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: No, me personally I think that’s kind of a narrative out there that looks cool. Our guys had great energy, great emotion, had a great week of prep, and we didn’t do enough to win the game. So, we’ll go back at it and try to do enough to win the game.
Q. What needs to be done to unlock DE Robert Quinn post-injury here? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: I think he is going to go today, and hopefully he is healthy. I was joking about him. I said, he should have some fresh legs and a new knee, but I think he’ll come in, if he’s ready to go, then we’ll get him in and up and playing, and that’s kind of a head coach and doctor thing for us.
But excited to see him go out there and play. That’s why we acquired him, and that was by [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] a good addition for us, and we know what he can do. I think he is excited.