JONATHAN GANNON: Tough, hard-fought game. Good to go on the road against a good opponent, a good offense and get a win.
Got to clean some things up, but I thought our guys battled. We fought pretty hard. We had to make some adjustments there in the second half. I thought they handled that well.
Ultimately, we got the win, but we need to clean some things up and play a little bit better. That’s our focus now, on to Dallas and how to stop this crew.
Q. I know third down is a big deal for you guys. What was the issue on third down? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: They made some good plays. A couple of calls I would like to have back. I thought one thing, and we didn’t really — why those calls, I called them. Didn’t get that particular play type or a route or whatever the case may be.
So that’s always going to be a blend of me calling it and setting it up the right way and then some execution. Give them credit too. They made some plays, but I think ultimately just a little bit better feel by me and a little bit better execution.
Q. Now that you have five games with S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, how far has he come in that time, and how much left does he have to go? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, a lot. I always say I think all our players are going to continue to ascend and play our best ball as we keep getting going because every rep is a learning experience.
Especially with a vet like that that’s played a lot of ball. The more he sees and the more he is out there playing for us, I think he is going to continue to ascend.
I really like where his game is at. He made a couple of big-time plays for us in that game. He is doing a really good job with the mental part of it and the checks and the communication.
You see a skill set starting to show up, why we acquired him. Happy where he is at, but just like everybody, I’m sure he wants to keep improving and keep elevating his game.
Q. What did you think of the tackling when you play all fives — you are going to want your guys to tackle in space. Was that an issue on Sunday? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: A little bit. I’m sure we missed a couple there. And, again, it’s credit to them. They play the game in space with guys that are talented with the ball in their hands.
I think some of the calls I could have took a little pressure off of some guys calling the game a little different, but every week we talk about tackling. Tracking in their hip, the technique of that, population to the ball.
It gets a little scary out there when it’s one-on-one in space with not a lot of people around you, so we just have to make sure we’re doing a good job with the cup and our angles and population to the ball.
Q. What’s the best way to describe what Cowboys QB Cooper Rush is doing that’s working for them? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: Efficiency. I think he is playing very efficient right now. He knows where to go with the ball. He is accurate. He is running the offense. They put a lot on the quarterback’s plate to get him in ideal calls, and he’s doing that.
They’re talented around him. He’s playing really good football right now, and they have good players around him. I think he is very efficient right now. First and second down and third down, situational ball, Red Zone. They’re playing well. We have a big-time challenge.
Q. Do you prepare differently for Dallas Cowboys QB Cooper Rush compared to if Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott plays? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: It’s a very similar offense when we look at [Cowboys QB] Dak [Prescott] from all last year and then even the first game and then the last four that [Cowboys QB] Cooper [Rush] has played. It’s not much.
I mean, he is doing a good job. They really didn’t break stride when he came in the game, and he has played these last four games.
[Dallas quarterbacks coach] Doug [Nussmeier], the quarterback coach, is a really good coach. Obviously, [Dallas Offensive Coordinator] Kellen [Moore] is a really good coach. They’re doing a good job with him.
Q. When you are playing against a team that the defense has played so well, shut teams down, points are going to be at a premium this week. Does that change your approach on how you prepare your defense that points for your offense are going to be a premium? (Al Thompson)
JONATHAN GANNON: Not too much. Points are always at a premium. I understand the question. It’s a good question, but we always try to keep that score down.
So, we understand that it’s going to be — they’ve got a really good defense, just like everybody else does, but they take the ball away at a high clip, and they keep the score down, so we’re going to have to do the same thing.
Q. As you start a week against a team that likes to run or I suppose runs more than they pass the ball, at least last week, what’s the value of having DT Jordan Davis here? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, good question, Zach. They are doing a really good job in the run game, and it’s not just because they’re calling a lot of runs. They’re efficient and then create explosives with their runs.
We’re going to have to do a good job. It’s not just [DT] Jordan [Davis]. It’s all 11. Good run defense is all 11 guys. It’s not one guy.
We have to put our guys in position to make some plays and not always have tough downs. We have to have population t0 the ball and tackle because these backs, they break tackles when they’re one-on-one. So, we have to have more than one hat to the ball.
Q. Where do you feel like you are as a run defense? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: I think we are pretty good. We’ve had some runs that have popped, you know what I mean. Which you always have to clean those up because you don’t want explosive runs to hit you.
I think we’ve been pretty good. I think we can always clean up. We probably got a little leaky at times Sunday, which you would like to think that three-yard run that’s going for six, you would like to get it down for three, but that’s always a work in progress.
That’s one of the things I talk about us getting better. That’s always one of the things on our guys’ minds is how can we get these runs down a little bit better?
I don’t know the stats about that, but you don’t want teams to be in second and two all day running the ball on first down and that’s what Dallas does a really good job of.
They’re not playing a game in third and long. They’re not. You watch the L.A. game, and it’s second and two all day. It’s tough. That’s a tough way to go on defense.
Our guys will know that, and we’re up for the challenge.
Q. When you play a mobile quarterback like Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray, do you adjust your pass rush at all to be a little more disciplined for gap type? (Ed Kracz)
JONATHAN GANNON: You always look at who you have to defend and how they’re creating — what their skill set is of all 11 guys that you are playing against. You put together a plan to try to minimize that skill set.
So, I thought our rush did a really good job of being disciplined, not letting them out. We had a couple of calls up that we purposely flushed them to a guy that was rallying to them. I thought they did an excellent job with the rush plan and not just the rush plan, but the run game.
There was a lot of different things that they create because of the quarterback run, just like our offense does, that it’s not just day one install and here’s your rules. There are a lot of things going on during that game that those guys did a really good job with to be disciplined and execute the call, which I was happy with.
Q. Do you see any difference or difference in mobility between Dallas Cowboys QBs Cooper Rush and Dak Prescott? Is one more mobile? (Ed Kracz)
JONATHAN GANNON: Both of them when they need to move, they move. I really don’t.
When they need to make off-schedule plays, they both can do that, and [Cowboys QB] Cooper [Rush] has shown that he can do that. He’s got a really good feel in the pocket when it starts to collapse a little bit. He knows where to find that open rush lane and step up and throw it.
So, we’re going to have to do a good job, just like last week, of being disciplined with our rush. However many people we’re bringing, our four-man. It’s going to be a big challenge for us.
Q. What makes LB Kyzir White a good fit for that spy role that we saw him in? (Josh Tolentino)
JONATHAN GANNON: He is fast, and he has a pretty good feel about that. Really the play that he made early, that starts with the front. They did a really good job with that to make him go where we wanted him to go. That’s a collective thing.
[LB] Kyzir [White] has a pretty good feel for it. He has done that in the past, and he is fast. You don’t want to have a guy that’s spying the quarterback and can’t run him down. I’ve been a part of that mess. So, I thought he has done a good job with that.
Q. Follow up on LB Kyzir White. It was his lowest percentage of snaps. Was there a reason you went away from that package in this game? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: How we set up the game plan was we were going to major in one personnel group that he didn’t happen to be in, and that always changes week to week. That will change this week.
I thought he did a good job when he came in and the snaps that he played, and he is in some of the known pass packages for us. He did a good job in the Philly package for us. I was pleased where he was at.
Q. What was the reason for majoring in that specific package? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: Quarterback run game.
Q. You have so many new pieces in this group and really at every level. What was the key to kind of getting to play as a group so quickly? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think we’re still getting there. You know, I think we have a ways to go with that.
And I like where we’re at, but that’s always a process that you are going through as, what are we, a quarter through the season now or give or take. That’s why I really think our best ball is ahead of us, just because one of the best defenses I’ve been on was in ’17 with Minnesota. Those starters, they played with each other for four years, the group of that defense. Indy was the same way. Our third year we were in the top ten, and the group of those guys played together a good amount. They played a lot together.
That is real, and guys, you can plug and play, but there is an adjustment period of getting this is where this guy is going to be, this is how this guy is going to make that check, this is the communication to it.
I really like where we’re at, but I do think I’m excited about our opportunity to keep ascending with the guys that are playing.
Q. CB Josiah Scott, what have you learned about him? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: He is tough as nails. He does his job. Plays with a lot of juice. He can cover. He tackles. You saw a couple of those plays on the screens. I mean, thank God he made them because there was a lot of space there if he doesn’t.
Really like where [CB] Josiah [Scott] is at. I thought he actually played better this week than last week, and he played good last week. He has played winning football for us twice in a row now. If that spot is not right, it’s hard living. He has done a really good job for us, so happy for him.
Q. How much different are these Dallas games from last year because your defense has changed quite a bit and the quarterback situation for them? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: I mean, we, obviously, use those games. We looked at all last year, and then we’re looking at this year. You just see, hey, what do they think we’re going to play, and how are they going to attack it, and what calls did they like to get to versus certain things? That’s always a chess match as we go.
This week it’s I want to line up and be simple and play and out-execute and out-hit them. That’s going to be our challenge to them because they do the exact same thing on offense. They kind of line up. They play. They out-execute, and they out-hit you. It will be good-on-good Sunday night.