JONATHAN GANNON: First off, thoughts and prayers with the Zimmer family. You guys know the respect and love that I have for that family, so I just wanted to say that. Wrapping up the game quickly because we are on to Houston. Thought we battled for four quarters, made some good plays, rushed well, covered well. Got into known pass a lot which that obviously helps the rush when you can do that. And played a pretty good game.
On to Houston.
Q. It’s not like there’s a lot of DT Jordan Davises walking around here, how do you fill that void in the lineup? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: I feel good about the guys that we have in here. We always talk about that’s one of the reasons we cross-train guys, to be able to plug and fill different spots when guys go down or get injured.
Feel good about the room and what we’re doing, and those guys will pick up the slack.
Q. Specifically DT Marlon Tuipulotu, what has he shown you so far this year? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: He has a really good anchor. He was one of the guys way back when when they leave here for the summer, we kind of give them a plan, This is what you need to improve. I thought that he’s improved what we wanted him to improve at a pretty high clip.
So, feel really good about [DT] Marlon [Tuipulotu]. He gives you anchor, he gives you versatility along the lines in the three and four down stuff. You saw he’s rushing better this year.
Feel really good about him.
Q. What was your initial reaction about DE Robert Quinn’s first game with you guys? Where do you foresee him and how do you want to use him? (Chris Franklin)
JONATHAN GANNON: Thanks, [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] [laughter].
Obviously, great to get a guy of the production that he’s had, the football character that the guy has. Wash [Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers coach Jeremiah Washburn] did a great job with him getting him caught up to speed to be able to play in three days. Talk about Chauncey [S C.J. Gardner-Johnson], we had like 11 [days] with him. Robert, it was like three [days].
He’s an extremely intelligent player and he’s played a lot of ball. It’s just putting it into the verbiage of that. He really walked right into that room and fit right in, and it helps everybody in that room.
Q. What do you guys notice about Texans RB Dameon Pierce when you turn on the film? (Josh Tolentino)
JONATHAN GANNON: Good question. Good player, man. I mean, really good player. Got a high opinion of him. He jumps off the tape. Typically, I don’t put up a lot of backs in front of the room and say, ‘Hey, guys, this is a challenge ahead.’ He was one of them.
He’s tough. He has vision. He’s explosive. He breaks tackles. He runs violently. Can catch it out of the backfield. They deploy him in a good way. The run schemes that they use, they accentuate his skill set, which is pretty cool, and we’ve got a big-time challenge.
Q. When you look at your defense across the board, the improvement in turnovers, sacks, everything. When you self-scouted, including this last game, what have you identified has been the biggest difference? Is it personnel or is it schematic changes? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: I think our guys are just playing good football. We’ve got to continue to play good football with all that encompasses. We’re always chasing that game where it’s completely clean. I don’t know if you ever get to that game where it’s completely clean.
But our guys know what things we need to improve on, on a daily basis from game to game. I think the level of understanding with what we’re asking them to do, I think that’s the biggest reason for the jump in some of those numbers.
Q. Does Robert Quinn’s acquisition enable you to cross-train guys to move inside? I know you do that anyway, but does that give you more of a reason? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, we always look at whoever has a jersey on game day how that affects the other people. There are different combinations that you can use. There are different people that you can put in different spots.
But again, those guys have to be smart enough to be able to know, hey, my role can change when this guy is in, this what I’m going to be doing. And be able to win, and be comfortable in that role.
You can put a bunch of different guys in different spots, but if they don’t feel good about it or it’s not really helping them, you don’t want to do that.
Really just adding Robert gives us a little bit more flexibility with how we rotate guys, where some guys can play some different spots, and to keep those guys fresh.
So really happy with the addition. Good question.
Q. You have not given up a lot of big plays this year. Where does that rank as far as your priorities? What’s kind of going into the improvement you made there? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: High. That’s a winning stat. A winning stat.
All the stats out there, you guys know I’m not a stat guy, but that’s one that I look at. That is. That’s why I said, I love that the head coach, it’s important to him because we’re completely in lockstep with that.
Taking the ball away and explosive plays, offense and defense, those are two winning stats. We always have that in our mind. Our players have that in their mind. Certain situations, you obviously see I call the game with that in mind.
I do know that there’s stress and there’s a strength of every call. I think our players have done a really good job of knowing that if a stress point of a call is an explosive play, they play it that way. They’re not going to gamble and guess, or be super aggressive in certain calls because they know they don’t have help and they can’t play like that.
When there’s other calls that the strength of the call is to take away the explosive pass, then they can be a little more aggressive in certain routes. That comes down to having really good coaches. They have the players understand within each call what’s the stress and the strength of the call, when they can be aggressive and when they can’t.
That’s an entire defensive thing that we talk about with all of our guys because the quickest way to get beat is the ball going over your head. Our guys know that. They’ve done a really good job with it.
Q. When it came to the back seven, did you consider taking some guys out? I know you’re banged up at corner, but with the short week, when it came to the playing time? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: At the end of the game you’re talking about?
Q. Yes. (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: We talked about it with the head coach. Got in a weird spot where we were backed up. We’re in communication obviously with the head coach about that. It just didn’t play out like that. I would have liked to have seen some guys get in. How the game unfolded in the last fourth quarter, it just didn’t come up.
But that’s a good question. We’re always talking with the head coach about that. Typically, you don’t have that come up a lot. But I know this: that game reps are the greatest reps for learning. Any time we can get guys in that we know that are going to have to play for us whenever, those are quality reps.
Liked how that got set up, but it just didn’t come to fruition.
Q. I imagine you studied this Texans roster back in January. Did that process give you any insight that you wouldn’t typically have for a short week game? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Good question. Not too much honestly because they’ve got some different players. They have some of the same players but a little bit different schemes, everything like that. So, we went through the full process. Which what’s cool is for me and for us and how the head coach structured the last couple weeks, we took that bye week and put a little time on task because if you don’t have that bye week, I mean, you guys know the full prep of workweek. That’s condensed pretty good.
We did have a little bit of a jump-start on them, not overlooking Pittsburgh at all, but we did study them when the clock wasn’t ticking for Pittsburgh.
Our guys will be prepped and ready to go.
Q. As far as Jordan Davis goes, if he were to miss several weeks here, how does that impact his development and even his conditioning? (Ed Kracz)
JONATHAN GANNON: The strength staff does a great job with him. And he’s a guy that they’ve done a really good job with. And Jordan has made a lot of improvement since he’s been in the building with that.
But you’ve got to get healthy first. Then as he gets the stuff that he can do, they’ll do it with him. But when he gets back healthy, ready to play, there might be a little bit of rust. But I don’t expect too much of a falloff from how he’s been playing.
Q. Looked like before he got hurt, he had a little bit more of an expanded role playing in even end fronts. With him out, what does that mean for the kind of snaps that DT Fletcher Cox and DT Javon Hargrave get? (Jimmy Kempski)
JONATHAN GANNON: We’ll always put a plan together. I think that was situationally we decided some of those calls while he was in on certain downs and distances.
Like all our guys, we always put a plan together of hey, this is where we want the snap counts, this is who is playing in these packages, who is playing with who. As the game goes, you want to try to keep to that. It’s never perfect. You never set up the game plan and say, ‘This guy gets this many snaps, and this many snaps,’ and it comes out like that.
We do have a process that we go through. I think those guys that will be playing, picking up his snaps, will do a good job. And we’ll keep those guys fresh.