JONATHAN GANNON: So just to review, thought our guys battled pretty good. Some ups and downs of that game, some things that we need to continue to work on to clean up. I thought that the rush helped affect the quarterback and that led to some of the interceptions that you guys saw, and some of those interceptions, man, they were big time plays by some really good players that we have.
I think that really was the stat that led to the win if you want to look at stats within the game. And our head coach is always talking about the take-away battle. That’s one of the important ones.
Taking a look at everything that we’re doing right now because we have a little bit of time with a bird’s-eye view, and hopefully we can get better coming out of the bye and keep it rolling.
Q. What is your bye week process? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: Good question. We have some projects that the head coach has us do, and then I would like to talk about with the staff certain things that I want studied and want to improve on and some answers to some different things.
We kind of collectively get together. We’re on our own and then we collectively get together and look at everything from top to bottom and start to make some decisions.
You do it weekly, but the difference is obviously now you’re not getting ready to play a game, so you can kind of take a deep breath and it can be a little more not as matter of fact all the time. You can have some different conversations about it because time is not an issue.
It’s good because a lot of good ideas come up and it’s a good brainstorm session for some of that stuff validated with the tape, numbers, and stuff like that.
So, we’ll definitely improve coming out of this week.
Q. Secondary has nine interceptions I believe. I know the rush gets credit for that as well, it’s cover rush, rush cover. What are they doing well as a unit? (Ed Kracz)
JONATHAN GANNON: It starts with how [Assistant Defensive Backs] D.K. [McDonald] and [Defensive Passing Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs] Dennard [Wilson] prep those guys. It’s like, hey, there is some anticipation going on. I think that’s what you’re seeing.
I’m not talking about guessing and jumping routes and stuff like that but hey, in these formations, these situations in the game when we’re in these coverages, you can be aggressive on this type of route in this coverage because of this.
Or you can’t be aggressive within this coverage if you get this type of route because of this.
So, I think understanding the stress and strength of each call, and then as always, guys, like with that, their processor going, some anticipation going on, and then technique. If you look at some of the interceptions that we’ve had, I literally put up on the film it’s like this is — if you’re going to a clinic and talking about middle field safety play, this is the clip you show.
Then you show the drills behind what they do every day of why those drills show up in the game and how to play something.
So obviously we have really talented players. They’re going to make a lot of plays that a lot of guys don’t make or can make because they have a lot of talent. They take the film work and the coaching to the practice field, and it carries over to the game field. When they get chances to make plays, they make them. It’s really helped our team.
Q. In DT Jordan Davis’ case what’s keeping him from playing in more four-man fronts? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: He’ll continue to play in four-man fronts. I think that’s something that —
Q. It looks more like five-man fronts. (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, but that’s his comfort level right now. We play enough of the four man and the five-man that he’ll continue to get his touches. We’ll look at that too. That’s a good question, Zach.
But I feel very comfortable with him going in in any spacing that we play. He’ll continue to do that.
Q. Head Coach Nick Sirianni used the question about how the new guys are acclimating to shine a light on CB Darius Slay and what he does behind the scenes and how that’s been integral, especially with guys like CB James Bradberry and S C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Curious what you’ve seen and why his role is important to getting those guys up to where they are at? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think that that’s a little bit top down. What I mean by that is that’s the head coach. What I mean by that is this: Whatever you put an emphasis on and hang your hat on, typically it will show up at some point.
When we got here, you’ve heard I’m sure the head coach talk about the things that are important to him. He shows examples of why, and good and bad of what is important to him.
The players then understand why that’s important to him and to a team, and they take it to heart. So that’s one thing where when he’s talking about [CB Darius] Slay with that, like Slay understands the value of teammates knowing that you care about them, not just on the field but day-to-day.
And you got to be selfless to do that, which Slay is, because a lot of — not people that we have here — but a lot people that you’ve been around, they really don’t ultimately care as much or as much as you would want them to care about their teammate. Well, our guys that we have in this building right now care more about their teammate than they do themselves.
When you have guys like that and then new people come in, those guys are welcomed and they feel comfortable to be who they are, to ask questions, to make mistakes, to challenge certain things — me. Why do we play it like that, JG? Well, Slay will tell them immediately why we play it like this.
So, it’s a good culture, but it was when we got here the head coach had that in place because that was important to him. Now you see it’s important to our players and they do a good job with it. Head coach on down to the players, like it’s structured in a way that is a positive for us.
Q. S C.J. Gardner-Johnson explained that you guys sort of had to coach that into him the first week he was here. What was your view of that? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: I think that any time — any building that you go to is different. The dynamics are different from any team, to all the 32 teams. When he came here there was a little bit of a feeling out process of how do meetings go, how do we install things, what does practice look like, what’s the communication like between player to player, coach to player, coach to coach?
I think that once he went through that feeling out process, I think ultimately he probably let his guard down a little bit and said, you know what? Great, I can be who I am here as long as this, this, and this happens, and I’ll be respected if I’m accountable and disciplined and I care about my teammates.
He’s a guy that it wasn’t very hard because he loves ball. Like that’s what the whole premise of this thing is about is football character. Do guys love ball? They love to play. He does.
So even though he might not be the same personality that [CB] James Bradberry is, James Bradberry loves ball. So does [S] Chauncey [C.J. Gardner-Johnson]. Of course, they’re going to get along.
So that’s what I think ultimately it was a good job by [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] to make sure that was vetted when he came in here. We said he probably talks a little bit more than some other guys and he dances a little bit more than some other guys on the practice field, but this guy loves ball, he loves to prepare and he loves to play.
Bring him in. That’s cool. He wants to wear his hair a certain way and dress a certain way and act a certain way. Does he love ball? Yeah. Love him. Bring him in. That’s what he did. Ultimately the unit, they love guys that love ball.
That’s why he kind of came in and not really breaking stride.
Q. What’s S C.J. Gardner-Johnson progress been like the last six weeks and how much more does he have to go filling the role that you envisioned for him? (EJ Smith)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, long way to go, and he knows that. I just saw him. I think he’s on his way out of town. He knows he has a long way to go. I like where he is at and he’s made some plays for us, but he knows there are plays that he, as [QB] Jalen [Hurts] would say, he’s leaving money on the table, too. As all our guys, as I am.
That’s what you’re continually trying to improve. It’s not result-oriented, it’s process-oriented. So, hey, [S] Chauncey [C.J. Gardner-Johnson] what do you need to do in the week to clean this up? If you got to communicate to me, hey I need to see these three plays in practice to make sure I’m right with my eyes or leverage or tackling or whatever that is, we’ll get it done for you.
So, when you love ball, you continually want to improve your game. That’s what he does. I still think his — like I said I think last week, as a unit and an individual, I still think our best ball is ahead of us.
Him, another guy. That’s a new position he’s playing. That is a hard position to play. As is the nickel corner. But it’s different. It’s a little more of a space game now that he’s playing and just getting acclimated to that. Getting reps and time under task with that, and I think he’ll continue to do that.
Q. Head Coach Nick Sirianni said on the radio this morning he came to you at the halftime and said, hey, we’re up 20 to 3, let’s play a little differently. Let’s not give it the big play. When you look at the defense and how you guys have handled those large leads and the performances in the second half, how much do you feel like it has to do with that? How much do you feel like it has to do with maybe scheme choices you made? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, I think early in the week when we set up the game plan, offense, defense, special teams, when we meet with the head coach, our keys to victory, here is how we want to play this game, this is what we have in, here’s what I’m thinking. He gives his opinion, we go back and forth, and it’s awesome.
As the game, I would say probably not just at halftime, he’s on the headset a lot. Hey, JG you got to be thinking about this, got to be thinking about this. Make sure this happens or this happens, whatever the case may be. That’s his job, and he helps me a lot with that as far as because I might not be thinking a certain thing and he’s looking at all the factors in play, how the offense, special teams, how we’re doing, the score, how many more possessions, the time, the wind.
So, there are a lot of things that he helps me with that I don’t have to put mental energy to because he’s handling that. So, I value the conversation that we have all the time within that. We don’t change much. It’s just you might call a certain call a couple more times or not.
But that is a huge piece to us closing games and winning games. What we’ve been doing is because there are times where — I understand the question — but there are times where a ten-play drive that takes seven minutes off the clock when you’re up three scores isn’t the worst thing in the world.
You can look at around the league and see how teams give up leads quick. So that plays into that. Now, do we want to shut people out all the time? Yeah. Do we want to build on a lead? Yeah, but It’s the NFL. Teams are good. They’re going to get back in games. It’s just how you let them get back in games.
I think that’s important too. And obviously you never want to let teams back in the game, but that’s one of the areas that we got to study and make sure — [Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen] and I had a great talk about it. What are you doing, what am I doing, what are you thinking, what am I thinking, to ultimately help the players.
I value the communication before the game goes on, during the game, and the head coach helps me a lot. We’re striving to figure out how to be a little bit better in those situations.
Q. How much has LB Haason Reddick’s presence helped facilitate what you guys do on defense, just the different formations and stuff that you want to play? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: A lot. I mean, that’s what we’ve talked about with him. He’s a very versatile player. He’s very selfless. He understands when we ask him to do certain things, why that is, that’s to help his teammates. He has a unique skillset where you see it show up. He is good in the run game, the pass game, he can affect the passer.
We know that people have to be aware of him and we use him when we set up certain looks to help other players. And the value of that, like I said, sometimes it shows up on a stat sheet; sometimes it doesn’t. But when you have a player like that, he’s helping us win every game and get favorable matchups.
So glad he’s here. He’s another one like [S] Chauncey [C.J. Gardner-Johnson] where I think his best games are in front of him, his best ball is in front of him, and he’ll tell you that. That’s what I love about him. His football character is through the roof. This guy practices, he prepares, and he plays. He was obviously a great addition for us.
Q. You guys have those developmental periods for a lot of the younger guys. Have you seen a couple guys who have made a lot of strides during those periods who you think could be future contributors? (Chris Franklin)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah. I mean, I’m always going to say all of them. First of all, about those periods, the head coach, those are very, very competitive periods. Those actually stress me out more in practice than the other periods because we’re calling those back and forth against each other.
But, I mean, the guys off the top of my head — and there are some guys playing because we use that, guys that don’t get — it’s not just like practice squad guys. There are other guys that are playing in that too.
I would say our rookies, that’s a good time for those guys to get reps. [LB] Nakobe [Dean], [S] Reed [Blankenship], [CB] Mario [Goodrich], those guys are getting high quality reps and unscouted looks. So the things I talk about with the question about making plays in the back end, there is some prep work that goes into that that they have a little bit of leg up, it’s like an open book test.
Those periods are closed. It’s like ripping, you know what I mean? They have no idea what’s coming and they got to function in plays.
So, the value of those, when you look over you’re, like oh, it’s only an eight-play period. Now look at what week are we in, and all of a sudden they got 250 snaps time on task within our system. Those are huge reps. You talk about development of players, those periods are critical to that developmental piece.
I think they’re all doing a good job, but I would say probably the guys that stick out in my mind are probably some of our first-year guys.
Q. In the Arizona game the commentators made a comment that you were working on the Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray game plan during the off-season, the summer. How much of like the week-to-week game plan is done during that period, and then the work you do, how much variance do you find based on the way teams are playing and the personnel? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Good question. The [Arizona Cardinals QB] Kyler [Murray] thing, who did that game?
Q. It was Chris Meyers and Robert Smith.
JONATHAN GANNON: When you get the schedule you look, and if you — why I spent some time, a little more time on them in the summer was I never played against [Arizona Cardinals Head Coach] Kliff [Kingsbury] or [Cardinals QB] Kyler [Murray], so you don’t want to — like for me, for my comfort level with like the first — the whole week obviously is critical, but the first like 48 hours of prep for a team as you’re watching the process that I go through for myself, that’s very critical.
I just felt like I didn’t want to be behind the first time I started going through that process and had never seen Kliff call a play and seen Kyler play, as far as how we look at it to game plan. So, I spent a little extra time on that particular team because of we played them early, so you had however many games before that. So you weren’t going to get a ton of tape and throughout the season, all the ebbs and flows of a season.
I really just wanted to kind of study the player and the play caller a little bit more than some teams that we’ve played a bunch or guys that I’ve went up against or that we’ve played against. That was the reason for that.