Q. When you guys come off a loss, what’s the accountability factor with Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni? How does he go through the game with you guys on a Tuesday and a Monday? And what are the conversations from a back-and-forth standpoint? (Mike Kaye)
JONATHAN GANNON: Just with [Eagles Head Coach] Nick [Sirianni] and I – the entire defensive staff, we’re all in constant communication of, ‘Hey, what do we want to do to try to win the game this week? What calls are we going to call? How are we playing? What are the adjustments?’
So, any time you come back in after the game, win or lose, you’re talking about, ‘Hey, did we get those things done? Did we make adjustments? Where can we get better? How can we set the game plan up a little bit better?’ So, high accountability. There’s no difference in that than a training camp practice when we come off the field and watch the tape all together, like, ‘Why is this guy doing that? What are you coaching him here? What should he be doing?’
So high accountability in our building.
Q. What was your reaction to what DT Fletcher Cox said, both the content of his frustration and the public nature of it? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: I understand Fletch’s point. I think it comes from he’s an unselfish player that has a lot of passion for winning and losing. Our entire defense is frustrated that we’re 2-5 right now because we know we’re not playing well enough.
So, talk to Fletch about, ‘Hey, what’s your view point of how we can play a little bit better on defense?’ And do that with really all of our guys on all three levels from a standpoint of, ‘Hey, here’s the game plan. Here’s what we’re thinking. Here’s what we need to get done. Hey, we’re 2-5, guys. What’s going on? Hey, I can do this better. You guys can do this better. Coaches can do this better.’
What any player says after a game out of frustration comes from a good place of, ‘We want to win.’ That’s what this game is about, winning and losing. And that’s where I think that comes from, from Fletch. So, I love that about him.
Q. But speaking publicly, he’s suggesting pretty strongly that he doesn’t agree with the way he’s being deployed? How does that mesh with your general philosophy that you’ve shared with us, that your whole philosophy is about making sure that you’re bending the scheme towards the strength of the players? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: He’s got good points. I need to do a better job of that with him. The key thing with that is together, player and coach, coach and player, how we do that and how we go about that.
He’s had some very good ideas, as our other players have had good ideas, and then it’s up to us as the coaches to get that done and execute those things.
Q. Will you make some changes to free him up from the double-teaming? He doesn’t like the double-teaming. Will you do that? (Bob Grotz)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, as much as we can, we try to do that. And we’ve got some things in our pocket that we’ve done up until this point and some things that we’re taking a look at to get that done. You always want to try to free up the inside guys so they can play one-on-one with offensive linemen where they have a better chance to win that down.
People typically aren’t going to let you roll off and play five one-on-ones all day long because they know that our D line, we have an advantage over offenses. So, it’s always a blend of schematically what is this call? Why are we putting it? What situation does this call for? What is the strength? What is the stress? Why are we calling it?
We can always do a better job of – as working from front to back, how we mix those things together.
Q. When you met with Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman and the personnel department this off-season and told them your schemes, your plans, how much of your input was taken into what players were brought in here to match the schemes that you – (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: A lot of input. Like what we talked about with the free agency and the draft, that’s a collective thing. Those are longer meetings with [Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and the head coach and with all the scouts, the pro scouts, the college scouts. ‘Hey, here’s what we’re looking for. This is how we would like to play. This is the skill set from the left corner to the right D-end to the MIKE linebacker. This is who we can play with. Here’s comps for those positions, like here’s who have played at a high level in this sort of style of defense.’ And we work to build it from there.
So, it’s been a good collective process of what we’re trying to do and who we need to play in those roles.
Q. Do you have those players to play those roles? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Absolutely. Everybody that we need to play winning football is in that building right there. I’m 100 percent confident in that.
Q. Is DE Josh Sweat best employed as a 4i technique – this is something they specifically drafted him to be an edge guy. He played that at FSU and they kept saying he was totally out of position – something similar, I don’t know exactly. I know he’s not playing there all the time, but like DE Ryan Kerrigan had never played that position before. DE Tarron Jackson is 240 pounds. Are they ideally suited for that spot? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Within the frame – when those guys are playing, you see the rotations by packages. There are times where they’re probably, no, they’re not ideally suited for that spot, but we try to within who’s playing, we try to make it to where we’re putting those guys in position, for the most part, to get into the skill set that they’re most comfortable with. And that’s just like any corner or linebacker or safety.
Sometimes they get a little bit – some safeties want to play D-path all the time. Well, sometimes you’ve got to get in the box and play cover three. Some corners want to play man-to-man all the time. Well, sometimes with this call, because of what we’re trying to get done with that call, you’ve got to play cloud.
So, it’s always a blend of taking our guy’s skill set, putting them in that position as much as possible within the scheme of this is who we’re defending and how we want to play.
Q. I think Nick Sirianni used the term challenge, maybe we need to challenge some offense a little bit more. What does that mean to you when he says that? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: That came from me. I mean, when we got out of the game, I said, ‘The ball didn’t hit the ground. That tells me we’ve got to challenge a little bit more.’ So that’s within, ‘Hey, this is our rolodex of coverages, how we want to play, what we need to get done. I need to change some coverages up and challenge a little bit more, get a little tighter, get closer to people, close windows, pre-snap disguise, post-snap disguise, what are we doing with the coverages?’
So that needs to get corrected because it’s hard to play winning football when the ball doesn’t hit the ground.
Q. As a follow-up to that, it wasn’t just exclusive to Raiders QB Derek Carr. Most quarterbacks are completing 74 percent of their passes against you. Was this a function of the scheme, and has this challenge sentiment been expressed before? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: It has been expressed before, but Nick and I – he knows what ultimately we’re trying to get done to win the game, playing complementary football as well.
So, a lot of times like you look at it and if a completion percentage is really high but it’s really not – it’s going to the success rate of them scoring or them winning the game, sometimes you’re okay with it by certain coverages. This is where we want the ball to go. You guys heard me talk about with some of the shell defenses, like this was an explosive shot play and it got eight yards, like that’s really a win for the defense.
Now, with saying that, you have to blend getting tight on people to where you’re eliminating some of those hidden yardage on catch and run checkdowns and where it’s a high level of completions where now you’re not – you don’t get it to third down, you don’t get off the field, you have these long drives. So, I can do a better job of mixing to get tighter and challenge a little bit more and put our guys in a better position to win certain downs.
Q. You have said that you’re not okay, though – you wouldn’t be okay with a team – with the way the Raiders did not have to see third down from maybe their second possession to their fifth or sixth, almost exclusively for the first and second — (Geoff Mosher)
JONATHAN GANNON: The two drives where it’s first and second down, it’s not good football by us. I talked about that. You’ve got to get a team to third down. To do that, you’ve got to be a little more – we’ve got to change a little bit what we’re doing on first and second down to do that.
Q. Do you feel like you made some changes going into that game to do that? (Geoff Mosher)
JONATHAN GANNON: We did. The coverages that we had up for that game were a little bit different than what we’ve played in the past. Actually, trying to get tighter. I feel like they did some things that didn’t let us – allow us to get tight by how they align people. So, it’s up to us to figure out ways to where, when we call something to get tight, to stay tight. So that’s up to us.
Q. What are some examples of the way that this system fits the player skill sets? What do you see? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: As far as what our corners are asked to do, it fits what we have in our building for our corners. Our safeties, they run the show. They’re smart, physical players that are good in coverage. We have that. Our linebackers, from a standpoint of when we play shell defense, are pattern match. So, they have to process and figure out who to get on and drop in zones first and then match people. They do that. Our D line, when we ask them to penetrate and attack, they do a good job of that. And we ask them, when they have to play a certain style depending on the coverage behind them, to be salty in the run game and play blocks, they can do that.
So that’s why I say, guys, like the schematic thing of do we have the right people in the building? Yeah. We have to coach better, I know that. You know what I mean? 2-5, that says that immediately. Who does that fall on? Us. But with saying that, we have proven, our guys have proven, and we can be more consistent with it to be able to play winning football and do everything that I just talked about.
Q. With the way you guys play complementary football, when you’re having your discussions with Nick Sirianni, how much do you weigh the fact that you’re holding teams to a small clip per play, but you’re also then allowing longer drives, which then in turn stops it? (Mike Kaye)
JONATHAN GANNON: That’s a good question. There’s a balance of that because that’s exactly kind of what’s happening in some of these games. I understand the head coach’s point, like, it’s hard to get in rhythm when you’re not on the field. So, we’ve got to do a better job collectively of not – there’s going to be some times where it’s first, second down, first, second down, but we’ve got to pick and choose our spots to get it to a third down a little bit more than what we’re doing.
Q. Is it understandable though, when you bring in a new scheme, in terms of personnel, it’s going to take – you’re saying there’s guys that maybe ideally don’t want to do such and such. Shouldn’t you have guys here that can do all of those things? I know you were excited about DT Milton Williams because of his versatility and stuff like that. Is there something to be said that you need a little more time – do you feel you need a little more time to get the personnel that you need to run your schemes? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: No, our deal is figure it out. That’s what we’re paid to do. Figure it out. We need to figure it out better than what we’re doing, flat out.
Q. Do you expect to play five and six linebackers a lot through your career here as defensive coordinator? (Geoff Mosher)
JONATHAN GANNON: It depends, again, who we’re defending and who we have. That goes into, ‘What are our guys’ skill sets? What are we asking them to do? Who does that well? Let’s get them on the field. We’ll see who’s playing at a high level.’ When we talked about, I think last week it was, certain guys you can’t afford to take off the field, we’re not going to take them off the field.
But that’s an ever-evolving process of who we have, how we’re playing, who we’re playing, where are we at, year one, year two, year three, whatever. Is this guy a rookie? Is this guy a fifth year guy? All that, that’s all taken into account when we decide, ‘Hey, here’s the 11 that are going out in this package. Here’s what they need to get done to play winning football.’
Q. Do you feel you’ve gotten the players to believe in what you’re trying to do? (Les Bowen)
JONATHAN GANNON: I think so, and I’m confident in that because, when we go out and install the game plan, they’re juiced up. When we explain to them, ‘Hey, here’s why we’re doing what we’re doing,’ they understand, and you see it in practice, and you see it in the game. They are trying to do what we want them to do. We have to set it up a little bit better.
You know, I always say like the people – a lot of people, they start pointing fingers at the players. I’ve never met a player that wants to mess up ever. So, when things aren’t going great, it always comes from, ‘Hey, let’s look from a standpoint of what are we asking this guy to do? How are we coaching it? What are we saying to the guy to improve the player?’
So, that’s what I love about our coaching staff. That’s what yesterday was. That’s what today is. ‘Hey, how do we improve our guys? Let’s serve the players because when you serve the players and they play better, you win football games.’