JONATHAN GANNON: Just to recap, I thought we handled adversity well. It’s the first time we got down early in a game. I really liked our attitude on the sideline. I liked our players’ response. I liked the coaches’ response. We played some good ball. Guys made some big-time plays in that game. That’s normally what it takes, and [we] executed at a pretty good level. There’s some things we’ve got to clean up, as always, and we’re working to do that.
On to Arizona.
Q. What gave you the confidence to switch CB Josiah Scott in there instead of shuffling things around? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, a couple reasons. [CB] Josiah [Scott] does a good job for us. That’s a tough spot, like I’ve talked about with you guys, and he handles it well. He’s got the skill set that you’re looking for as a nickel. I thought he played well.
The other thing that goes into that, you don’t want a trickle-down effect as far as hey, ‘This guy has got to go here, this guy has got to go here.’ I just thought where we’re at as a unit, that was the best way to go and that’s how we’ll continue to proceed.
We also got some different packages and some different bullets to switch guys in and out, but like how we played that game.
Q. Talk about CB Zech McPhearson. We’ve seen him in there a few times for CB Darius Slay. How has he played and what can this experience mean for him? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, it’s huge. This is his second year, and he got some really good quality snaps last year. I think that he improved. He improved his game. He had a really good training camp. We feel good about [CB] Zech [McPhearson] going in.
You’ve always got to be ready to go in. You never know when he’s the next guy in that spot. Played well, executed. I thought he covered really well. Mentally he was sharp. That’s one of the hardest things. It’s really not the physical to me with the guys that we have up. It’s the mental, because they just don’t get a ton of reps in practice.
Our guys know you’ve got to be ready to go in and you might not get a lot of reps during the week, and you’ve got to execute at a high level.
Now, saying that, that’s why I love how we structured training camp. Those guys get a lot of reps. We do that for multiple reasons, and that’s one of them. It’s like, going in, it’s nothing new to him. He’s played all those calls and did a good job and executed at a high level.
Q. When you’re going through the free agent process, do you have a sales pitch for Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman as to why someone like LB Haason Reddick would fit your system so well? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah. Like we go over with the staff and the whole personnel side what we’re looking for in each spot, and why I smiled was [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] gives us the sales pitch normally. We have a really good back and forth, really good communication with the head coach.
It’s a harder job for Howie because he has to balance a lot of different things with roster construction and what people are making and the cap and all that stuff. We have an understanding of that, but we really don’t take that into account. We kind of say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re looking for, this is what we need.’ Then Howie does a good job of getting those players for us. Good job, Howie.
Q. With LB Haason Reddick, what was the fit? What did you see? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: I think what you guys see. The guy, he’s got a very unique skill set. As I always say, the first thing that anybody we bring in here, and I love that the head coach is in alignment with myself because this is kind of personal for me, is football character. Does he love ball? There’s a lot of talented guys out there that I don’t think really love ball, and I think that’s how you build a really good team is the more guys that love ball and they’re team first, the better chance you have to win consistently.
So that’s always the first thing, and [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and [Head Coach] Nick [Sirianni] have done a great job because the unit that we have right now, not one of those guys doesn’t love ball and not one of those guys isn’t team-first.
So that’s the first thing we look at. Then from there with [LB] Haason [Reddick], he affects the game. He makes big-time plays. He has a unique skill set. We use him different ways. Even if he doesn’t show up on the stats sheet, we deploy him in a way that creates good matchups for other people, so he’s always helping us win the game.
He’s one that I’m in his ear about different things and he’s got really good ideas and we use a lot of them. He’s team first and it’s a production business, and you see the production happening.
Q. As far as that unique skill set, that’s a term you’ve used now for a few months. Beyond the speed around the edge which we all can see, what does LB Haason Reddick do that’s distinctive, that’s unique? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, for a guy that’s a speed rusher, he’s very powerful. That shows up not only in rushing, [but] in the run game. With saying that, so he can rush, he can play the run. We can deploy him different ways where he can play in space. He can play different spots along the line. That’s a really good piece to have for us because one, he can handle it mentally, and two, that gives us a chance to create different matchups that we like. So, he can play right and left. He can stack. He can do it all.
I’m really pleased with where he’s at. But that’s what I mean by the unique skill set. He’s not just a one-trick pony. He can do it all.
Q. As far as forced fumbles go with LB Haason Reddick, in your experience is that sort of a natural gift guys have or can you teach that? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, that’s a really good question because we always talk about that. There is a skill set, a mentality, a feel for guys that take the ball away more than other guys, and I do think that we took a good hard look this off-season as a staff with how we were coaching things, how we were drilling things, how our language was with that, and the head coach made us change some things.
You know, at first, change might be a little uncomfortable, but we said, ‘Look, we do have to change some of these things, and it starts with me. How are we coaching this? What is the language? Do the players understand? Are we drilling it the correct way?’
So, then what you want to do is get as many guys as you can that have a knack for taking the ball away and then drill it and teach it better and hopefully it comes to fruition, which it has.
I think the coaches have done a really good job with that as far as how we’re teaching that and drilling it, and then we always keep it on their mind, and our guys know that’s a winning stat, so that’s an important part of the game that we have to continue to excel at, and we can get better at it. There’s a lot of plays out there that we show our guys, ‘Hey guys, look, there it is, right there. This is what we talk about it. It has to be on your mind. The ball has to be on your mind if you want to take it away.’
Q. What benefit is there to not having to force DT Jordan Davis into playing like the most amount of snaps up front? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, I mean, that goes back to my thing all the time is you want those big guys fresh. I like where the snaps are. I like where [DT] Jordan [Davis] is at. I like where the other guys in the room are at.
It gives those guys a chance to stay fresh, communicate with each other what they’re doing. It allows those guys to get in some ideal spots where they’re really comfortable and affect the game in a positive way. [I] like where they’re at.
Q. What about DT Jordan Davis’ development, though? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Absolutely. He’s developing every week. I really like where his game is at. He’s continuing to ascend. The things that [Defensive Line coach] Tracy [Rocker] is working on with him, it’s showing up on tape. You see him chasing the ball down.
That’s good things. He’s doing a good job.
Q. How do you tell if a guy loves ball if he’s not in the building, like with free agents? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, that’s a lot of work on the personnel side, and then there’s some ways you can get to the bottom of it when you talk to people and when you talk to the player because of course a person going through the free agent process or going through the draft process, they’re always going to tell you what you want to hear.
But there’s a lot of things that we have a checklist that we go through that we can — I think we do a pretty good job of identifying if those guys love ball. There’s a little bit of a feel thing, but our road scouts, our college scouts do an excellent job with that. They know that is a premium for us.
I think our pro side does a really good job with vetting people that come into this building, and you’ve got to trust those because when I was in scouting, I thought guys had high football character. They get there, they miss practice, they don’t like to lift, and they’re looking at me like, ‘Hey, man, you didn’t get to the bottom of this guy.’ They were right and I got fooled. So our personnel side does a good job with that.
Q. When you get a guy like CB James Bradberry so late in the free agent process, what has he meant to your secondary, especially this last game with both CB Darius Slay and CB Avonte Maddox down? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: I’m going to smile with that. He was on our radar early. Good job, [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman]. You know, it’s like all the guys we bring in here. They’re high football character. He’s extremely intelligent. He can play different styles, which you’re seeing that show up. He’s a team-first guy. He’s another one that’s producing at a high level.
It’s hard to complete balls to him. He’s got length. He’s got range. He’s sticky. He’s got ball skills that you’ve seen. He’s a corner with a very unique skillset that can kind of do it all. I’m really pleased with where he’s at, and he’s going to continue to ascend, too.
Q. It’s a small sample size but you’re sending big blitzes at a much higher rate this year than last year, like six or more rushers is that a reflection — (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: No.
Q. Is that a reflection of the increased confidence in the secondary or is there something else to it? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: Fact-check that.
Yeah, I think a little bit of a blend of both. I trust our cover guys. A lot of that is set up – [reporter] John [McMullen] you asked that two weeks ago. A lot of those calls are on the call sheet, and when they come up and we feel good about calling those calls, we call them. I think coaches are doing a good job of setting up the plan as far as hey, these are when these calls are coming, this is the execution that’s needed for these calls to work, and our guys understand the strength and the stress of the call.
You know, we always kind of change week to week there a little bit with how we call it, but I think that it’s not so much, ‘Hey, these are better calls.’ It’s the execution of the calls that the players are doing a good job with.
Feel good about how we’re setting up the gameplan right now, and that evolves each week. This week is a lot different. We’ve just got to go out and execute — coach it the right way and execute.
Q. With the takeaways, was it just a matter of doing it a little more in practice, or did you bring in things that you hadn’t been doing previously? (Les Bowen)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, good question. We studied it hardcore. Anytime you want to improve on something, like we’ve talked about, ‘Hey, these are the two things we really want to improve on.’ You’ve got to take a deep dive and study it. There’s a lot of time on task. It’s not like you watch for one day, eight hours and say, ‘Okay, here’s what it is.’ It took a month with everybody in that room. We went through it.
You start studying different people. You start talking to different people, how you drill certain things, what are the — I’m a big guy on language. You have to define things clearly for the players to understand, and then the why behind it.
I think the players ultimately have done a good job of taking the drills to the game, the drill work to practice to the game, and it’s on their minds. I think it’s an improvement by us as a staff, and it’s an improvement with the players.
Q. You mentioned your background in scouting. How much does that influence the way you view building a defense now. Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman has to keep in mind that there’s a salary cap to account for; how much is that something you consider based off that experience? (EJ Smith)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, I take it all into consideration. That’s a good question. Everybody wants premium players at all levels, but I do think that when you build a defense, you have to have a very clear vision of what are the thinking positions, what are the positions that those are hard downs for certain guys. They have to have certain skillsets, where can guys develop within the scheme that you can have — this guy can have A, B and C. He doesn’t have D but he doesn’t really need D and we can develop D. I think it’s just a good job by the coaches and the scouts to be on the same page with what we’re looking for and how we built the roster.
Q. It seems so many of Arizona Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray’s highlights or best plays are all scheduled, that two-point conversion earlier this year. How do you coach that or prepare for something that’s not within the framework of the play? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, I mean, all the coaching details that go into that with off-schedule plays, we’ve got to be on it and understand that those are going to come up in the game and what he likes to do when he tries to make off-schedule plays, and he can make them. He has a very unique skillset. He’s very dangerous. He’s got arm talent. He runs around. He’s not like a stick-and-cut guy, he’s one of these guys. He’s not afraid to give ground and lose 20 yards from the line of scrimmage and runs around and finds open people. It’s hard to cover for a long time that long.
So, we’ve got to have a good plan and we’ve got to execute it and we’ve got to stay disciplined. Our eyes got to be right. We’ve got to rush as a unit. We’ve got to cover as a unit. It’s going to take all 11 out there to slow this guy down.