JONATHAN GANNON: So, a good win for us on the road. Tough, hard-fought game. I thought we did some good things. First series didn’t look great, had a couple explosives, explosive pass, explosive run and then we settled down and played. Situationally, we were pretty good, held them to some field goals, kept some points off the board, which is good. Some guys made some big-time plays, executed at a high level. Had the one takeaway. We needed another one, and we’ll always work for that.
But big challenge coming in this week with Green Bay and A-Rod [Packers QB Aaron Rodgers], and we’ll be excited to play on Sunday Night Football.
Q. What do you like best about the way your secondary is playing? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Their attention to detail. They’re in the right spots. They play their leverage the correct way. We don’t bust. You see that when a lot of explosive passes happen, guys aren’t on the same page. If you look as you’re watching a bunch of games, you’re like, oh, that’s a mismatch in coverage. We don’t do that.
I think they play confidently. They understand the strength and the stress of the call, and they play together pretty well.
Like pass D, just like everything on defense, it’s all 11, and they understand how they fit into the call and play accordingly, and I think that’s where our pass defense has been pretty good, and I think we’re striving to become better because we leave some plays out there that we shouldn’t leave out there in my opinion and in their opinion, and they know that.
But execution within the game and situations and each calls, I think they’re doing a good job.
Q. In your odd-man fronts, did you guys in certain downs, a couple plays tighten things up with the three-down linemen at all on a couple calls there? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: You know, formation, that’s always kind of up. With our different front structures, there’s always front mechanics that go into that, and that’s predicated on game plan, what a team is doing.
That’s a little bit of two things: What are their staple runs, what do they like to do, what runs we are anticipating coming in some of those four-down or three-down fronts; and then really sometimes to help create some mismatches with our guys, to make sure that we’re getting one-on-ones where we want the one-on-one or where the ball is trying to hit by formationally.
That’s why I always say, the days of guys not knowing what’s going on is over, guys. All 11 have to be smart. [LB] T.J. [Edwards] runs the show, but our front, they’ve got to know what’s going on and why we’re doing things, the stress and the strength of each call, why we’re aligning them there, and then within that, when the ball is snapped, it’s whoop ‘you-know-what’. Our guys did a good job of that.
Q. With the additions of DT Linval Joseph and DT Ndamukong Suh, how much does the structure of the rotation change, and how much work goes into that on a weekly basis now? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, I’ll give a shout-out to [Defensive Line coach] Tracy [Rocker], man. You’ve got two new guys that played a bunch of snaps for us. He did a really good job to get those guys caught up.
I think the other piece to that puzzle that allowed them to come in and play is the versatility and the flexibility of the other three up. I’m talking about [DT Fletcher] Fletch [Cox] and [DT Javon] Hargrave and [DT] Milton [Williams]. We kind of left [DT Ndamukong] Suh and [DT Linval Joseph] L.J. in two spots within the certain fronts, and those guys plugged and played around them, which helped them that they didn’t have to know everything. So that was huge by those guys. Again, those guys that are up, they’re smart and they’re versatile, they can play different spots.
I think that goes by the wayside, but that’s a huge piece to those guys being able to play that fast coming in here.
Then obviously Suh and L.J. have played a lot of ball, and they’re smart individuals. They understand what’s going on once they put it into their language, then it was hey, go out and play, and that’s what they did.
It was good to get those guys in here, and they played well, and the whole front played extremely well. Milton, Grave and Fletch, they did some big-time things in that game that really controlled the line of scrimmage. You see that’s when the D-line controls the line of scrimmage, you’re probably going to play pretty good run defense.
So, shout-out to those guys.
Q. You mentioned A-Rod twice before a question was even asked. When you wake up in the morning the first time and it’s Packers week, what are the first things that come to your mind in respect to Packers QB Aaron Rodgers? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: Part of it is because I played in the division with him for four years, so I think I’ve played him — been a part of teams that have played against Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay both with [Mike] McCarthy and [Matt] LaFleur a good amount. Maybe the most ever, this quarterback. But he’s a special player. That’s all there is to it. He’s going to the Hall of Fame. He’s one of the best that’s ever done it.
He can beat you a lot of different ways, so we’re going to have to be on it. But I have obviously a high respect for him because of watching him through the years and playing against him. He does things that other guys can’t do.
Q. After the first series, you really tightened things up. Is the first series of every game kind of a probing type thing where you’re looking for what you might not have seen on tape? (Merrill Reese)
JONATHAN GANNON: That’s a good question. Honestly, I didn’t call the first series great, and put our guys in some hard downs. Was thinking one thing and didn’t get it. That was a little bit of that because we’ve started fast at times, and then that game we didn’t start fast. You always like to start fast.
But they made some plays, and then I think there is a little bit of a feeling-out process. Typically, you need a couple series to see what they’re trying to do and how they’re trying to play you. Then we just talked to our guys a little bit, hey, we’ve got to make an adjustment here with this formation or this run. We’ve got to make a little adjustment here.
We typically have those in our back pocket that we can get to things pretty quick. Smart players, you can do that. We’ve got a very smart unit.
So yeah, you’d always like to come out and start fast, but they made some plays and then we had to kind of adjust a little bit and we tightened up and played pretty good football the rest of that game.
Q. Each of the guys that you brought in on the defensive line also played in the NFC North for a while. Is that beneficial? (E.J. Smith)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, if you talk to guys that have played — Fletch is a good one to ask about that. Guys that have played against certain guys a decent amount of times, they’ll keep a book on him. This is what works, this is what his skill set is, this is what’s mine. It’s the ultimate team game, but every snap there’s a lot of one-on-one match-ups going on.
Ultimately, it’s our 11 playing together, but then winning at a high clip when they have their one-on-ones.
I’m sure that they’ll share notes and go back and forth, and guys change, too, as their careers go and certain guys play a certain way early in their career and then they change a little bit.
So, we just have to study our opponent like always and know what we need to get to and try to win as many one-on-ones as we can. Good question.
Q. DT Ndamukong Suh is not a typical role player. 190 starts, Pro Bowls, All Pros. What do you expect from him going forward? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Exactly what he did, came in here and played really good football for us. I think with both of those guys coming here, that’s what they wanted to do. Come in, whatever you guys — that’s football character. It’s like whatever you need us to do to help our team win, that’s what we’ll do.
Their roles will change just like everybody’s weekly, depending on game plan, who’s up, who’s not, all that stuff, and they’ll come in and they’re ready to go. I think both of them want to play a little bit more. It’s always good to have as many guys that we can have up and fresh and hunting, the better off we are.
Q. What did S Reed Blankenship do to get that dime slot? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: We kind of changed that rotation a little bit and wanted to see him get in some plays, and we had a whole dime package up, but as the game got going, those calls weren’t used.
Looking forward to seeing him play more and more for us.
Q. You mentioned LB T.J. Edwards earlier; why has he been so effective this year playing in that middle linebacker spot and getting guys in the right positions? (Chris Franklin)
JONATHAN GANNON: You guys know in our defense, that’s a thinking position, and he’s as smart as they come. He’s got a really good skill set paired with a really good brain, and he plays extremely fast. You hear the head coach talk about accelerated vision; he has it. He’s calling things out before they even come, and that’s part of the work by the coaches, with [Linebackers] Coach [Nick] Rallis, but that’s a lot of film study by him. He’s football 24/7. You need to be that way if you’re going to be elite in this league.
I used to work for a guy, he’s the DB coach in Green Bay right now, Jerry Gray. He’d say ‘The NFL is an open-book test, and the guys that study the most’ — and it goes into what our head coach says, that accelerated vision. There’s plays out there to be had when you’re anticipating certain things, but you can only do that by your prep. That goes six days through the week, and T.J. takes that to heart, and he does that for us and helps a lot of other guys on the defense around him because of his brain and his knowledge.
He runs the entire front. Those front mechanics we’re talking about, that’s T.J. We do some different things that people don’t do to try to get in advantageous positions, and hopefully we set it up right. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s on his plate. The back seven mechanics, that’s on his plate, along with the secondary, but he’s tied into all that. He’s the guy in the middle and he’s the guy that I’m yelling at during the series in his ear because he’s got the green dot. He’s talking to the defense. He’s very emotionally stable, and then when that ball is snapped, he’s violent, and that’s what you’re looking for.
Q. Seems like kind of an obvious question, but what makes DT Linval Joseph so effective against the run? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: He’s a big man, and he knows how to play blocks. He’s extremely effective with his hands. He’s explosive. He’s quick. He’s big, and he’s seen all those little different blocking schemes before.
Like we were talking about T.J., if you asked him how this team executes a power double, he’ll tell you. If you ask, hey, how does this team differ from this team with a power scoop, he’ll tell you. Hand placement, footwork, leverage, angles, he’s into the books too now, so he’s extremely intelligent. He’s a big, violent man and he’s played a lot of football and he knows how to play blocks, and he knows how he fits in and what he has to do to help the other guys make plays.
Q. Are you okay with CB Josiah Scott at the slot? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, 100 percent.
Q. Can you share any sentiment with regard to Frank Reich? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: I mean, I love [former Indianapolis Colts head coach] Frank Reich. He holds a very special place in my heart. I think I texted him. He’s made me a better coach, a better person. He’s been phenomenal with my family the last couple years, and I love him.
Honestly it was a little bit kind of just the next game to me, so probably not as much, but I hold a very dear place in my heart for Frank Reich.
Q. On the radio yesterday Nick Sirianni proposed a poll question, Jonathan Gannon for Assistant Coach of the Year. Did you hear Nick bring this up, and what’s your evaluation of the defense overall? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: No, I did not hear that. I’m glad I didn’t hear that. What’s our record now, 9-1? That’s how I base it. Are we doing enough to give ourselves a chance to win games, and I think we can definitely get better at that, and as the year goes on, we’ve got to keep playing really good, clean football on defense to give ourselves a chance to win.
I don’t look at it as a whole right now. I’m focused on Green Bay. But the goal of every week is let’s play good enough on defense to give ourselves a chance to win, and I think for the most part, we’ve done that.
Q. Packers WR Christian Watson, five touchdown catches the last two weeks. What kind of progress has he made? What kind of test will he be on Sunday? (Dave Spadaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, big and fast. You talk to our guys, I like to talk especially about rookies because the guys I talk to about their rookie skill sets are our offensive coaches. Hey, did you like this guy, [Offensive Coordinator] Shane [Steichen], coming out? Did you like this guy, [Wide Receivers Coach Aaron Moorehead] A-Mo? And they’re all like, yeah, yeah, big and fast, and has got a big-time catch radius. We’ve got a big-time challenge because he’s got a guy that can deal it to him.