JONATHAN GANNON: Just to recap, I thought we played well on all three levels. Everyone had their part in playing pretty good team defense. We did some good things situationally, kept the score down, which is good, and the offense, the score was going up, so then that kind of changed the game in the second half there and executed at a pretty good level.
Things that we need to clean up moving forward, as always, and we’re on to the New York Giants.
Q. Was that game kind of the way in your mind that this defense should be playing to stop the run, get them in the passing downs, all that stuff? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: Every game is different. When we develop the game plan early in the week and talk about with the head coach here’s what we want to do and this is what’s important to — you never want to get beat by their bread and butter players or plays, so hopefully you have stuff to combat what they do. Each game is a little bit different, but I thought the plan was set up and the players really executed the plan in a way that didn’t allow them to get going and score points how they’ve been scoring points.
Ultimately, the players did a really good job of winning their one-on-ones and playing good team defense.
Q. What did you see from LB Nakobe Dean that you did not see in practice? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Nothing really. I expect [LB] Nakobe [Dean] to go in there and play well. That’s what we’ve been saying all along, all those guys that get snaps, we expect there not to be a lot of drop-off. He’s been doing that in practice. He’s been doing his job. He’s been improving his game. He hustles. He practices his tail off. He went in there and it was good to see him get some snaps and hit the ball a couple times.
Q. Why do you think the disguises have worked so well this game? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: This last game?
Q. Yes, and all season. (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: When you set up when it’s known pass that allows you to do some different things in the back end, and disguises, it’s one thing to put people in different spots and hopefully that affects the quarterback, but typically when we do that, there’s a reason for it with how it blends with the protection, who you want the one-on-ones to go to, the coverage structures that you’re playing. So that’s kind of a week in, week out — cause there’s a lot of times that I laugh, like you can throw up a couple disguises, but it’s really not doing anything to the quarterback, it’s not doing anything to the protection, and really it’s stressing your guys out in the back end.
You’ve got to be aware of kind of those three things when we set up disguises, why are we doing this, and some of the times it’s setting up certain things, certain looks, but I did feel like how we deployed our people on known pass, it kind of hit those buckets. They did a good job with it because a couple times that they’re a little out of phase when the ball is snapped or as the quarterback is dropping back where you’re putting them in some hard downs.
But they did a good job with it.
Q. To follow up on that, the coverage structures, how important or what kind of luxury is it to have sort of veteran corners who are savvy as CB James Bradbury and CB Darius Slay when you play all those different coverages? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: A luxury that you can’t put a price on, honestly. With those guys being able to be multiple in what they’re doing, and you can play certain coverages and not worry about their formations or match-ups, it opens the book up with what you want to do, and then you can apply pressure to different people accordingly.
Sometimes that’s by where the ball is going. Sometimes that’s by formations, by the route concepts. But those guys have done a fantastic job, the whole back end, but those two corners, the way we change things, disguise things, play different coverages, what we ask those guys to do, their skill sets allow us to do that, and that’s one of the reasons we’re playing pretty good in the pass game.
Those two guys, that’s what you love about those guys, [CB Darius] Slay and [CB James] Bradbury and all those guys is even if they want to play a certain way on 3rd down and we say, ‘Hey, this is the best way to do this, this is what we need you to do’, got it. So ultimately both of those guys are team-first guys, and it gives us a lot of flexibility with how we want to defend people.
Q. There weren’t a lot of snaps for DT Jordan Davis. Did you want to ease him back after four weeks off? (Merrill Reese)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, that’s a good question. That’s why we had six of those guys up, knowing that he hasn’t played in a month, and wanted to kind of ease him back in. I thought he did a good job, and looking forward to getting him more and more acclimated and getting his snaps up.
But I was pleased where that rotation was. Ultimately, that room is so strong, it gives you the flexibility to do that. If we didn’t have the players that we have in that room, he would have probably had to play 25 snaps, coming out, not playing for a month and maybe fighting through a little bit of pain. Glad we have that luxury, they did a good job, and he’ll keep getting more snaps as we get going.
Q. So that was a plan more than him reaggravating it? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, we had a plan going in, just like what we talk about. I think you can ask him. I think it bit on him once or twice, which we knew that was going to happen, so we planned accordingly. Then how the game fell out, there wasn’t a lot of plays. I think he probably could have played more, but I was glad he got back in a uniform, and it was good to see him out there, and it’ll be good to get him rolling again.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the D-line in general. You just kind of touched on this. You have experience, you have young guys, you have versatile guys, you have a rotation of like nine guys. What does that allow you to do? What do you like about the way they’re playing together and how the whole thing is fitting? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Just like what we’ve talked about, it gives you flexibility with structures. It provides you flexibility with match-ups. When guys can play certain different spots, like it’s not always this guy on this guy is a good match-up. Well, this guy might be good with bull rushes, but he struggles with counter rushes, so let’s put our best counter rusher on him and the best bull rush on the guy that struggles to block the bull rush.
That’s scheme versus scheme, people versus people, people versus scheme. With those type of players that we have, the flexibility that allows you to do different things. Hopefully we set it up in a way that gives them favorable match-ups. I think they’re doing an excellent job, and just like those corners that I talked about there, they’re willing to do whatever we really want them to do, and we give them the reason why and they’re for it because ultimately, they want to win games. It’s not about their production or their stats, the biggest stat that they care about is wins and losses.
It’s been a joy to be around this group this year because everyone has bought into that.
Q. With LB Nakobe Dean, what stands out behind the scenes that speaks to his preparedness? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: Like we talked about with [S] Reed [Blankenship] and all our rookies, that’s why it’s so huge [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and his people and the head coach, when we bring people into this building, we say ultimately as a coach you want the people under your watch to be able to hit their ceiling, and more times than not, the guys that don’t hit their ceiling, it typically comes down to their football character, that they don’t have the right football character to hit their ceiling.
So the people that we’ve brought in here, and it’s like our rookies, the free agents that we’ve brought in, the guys mid-year that we’ve brought in, their football character is through the roof, so that’s the first thing because you know that he’s going to study, he’s going to prep, he’s going to watch tape, he’s going to take notes, he’s going to be interactive in meetings, he’s going to practice, he’s going to value his reps. Then when you put all those things together, football character, what does that mean, kind of all that stuff, and it’s all-encompassing. When you put all those things together, all those variables together, you will start to see the player improve.
Obviously, we know that they can’t all get a bunch of game reps because those are the most valuable reps, but what those guys do behind the scenes with everything that I just talked about, that’s going to allow them to keep ascending, even if they’re not getting a bunch of snaps.
It’s kind of what happened with Reed. It happened with [CB] Josiah [Scott], guys that we need to go, [S] K’Von [Wallace], [S Andre] Dre [Cachere], [CB] Zech McPhearson. The whole D-line room plays, but those guys that we’re going to need to play and have roles and play winning football for us, they have to be doing that in a different way than the guy that’s getting all the reps in practice. Hopefully that answered your question in a roundabout way. That was a little long-winded.
Q. Aside from the Cardinals, you haven’t really seen a quarterback that’s involved in the run game. How much do they use Giants QB Daniel Jones in that manner and what kind of stress does it put on the defense? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, [Giants Head Coach] Brian Daboll and [Giants Offensive Coordinator] Mike Kafka know what they’re doing. [Giants Offensive Line coach] Bobby Johnson is the O-line coach; I was with Bobby for a little bit, and he knows what he’s doing. They know how to use, to maximize their quarterback skill set in a way that makes it very challenging for the defense because it challenges your rules and your structures, and they find their match-ups, their one-on-one match-ups because of the quarterback skill set. So, we’ve got a big-time challenge ahead of us, and we’ve got to be on it. It’s a game where you can’t just line up and play your stuff, or you will get gashed. We’ve got a big-time challenge ahead of us.
Q. Going back to when you were talking about football character, when you are in the player vetting process, how do you go about trying to assess players? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: That’s why I say, the first guy that I mentioned was Howie and his staff. That’s a big job of the personnel people to vet that. Then like what we talk about, we have ways to kind of get to the bottom of that, but it’s a small league. It’s a small circle. A lot of guys talk.
We have these cohabitation reports that we give to Howie where that means, hey, you were with [DT] Linval [Joseph] for four years; how is he? Well, I was the assistant DB coach, but I knew how he practiced, how he prepared, how he played, so then you put it in; football character checks out. Then you talk to your buddy at the Chargers, how was he for you. Great. Football character checks out. So, you say, well, there’s a good chance that it’s going to check out now, right.
So, we use every tool available to try to figure that out, and you’re not always going to be right on that, especially through the draft process and free agent process, but I think the most important thing of this place is we value it. When you value something, you’re obviously going to put time on task to it and you’re going to vet it the correct way. Not to say that you’re always right, but Howie and the head coach are hitting at a pretty high clip right now with the people they’re bringing in.
Q. Does stopping Giants RB Saquon Barkley, does that present different challenges than maybe someone like Titans RB Derrick Henry did? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Unique player, [Giants RB] Saquon [Barkley]. Obviously, he got picked that high for a reason. He can run it; he can catch it; they split him out wide; they throw it to him; they hand it off to him, jet sweeps, tosses, inside runs; he lines up as a receiver; he lines up as the quarterback.
He has a very unique skill set. He’s explosive. He’s big. He’s strong. He can hit home runs. He can break tackles. We’re going to have to be on it.
He looks like the premier back that he is right now on tape this year.
Q. The biggest gains Tennessee got on the ground were on QB scrambles. It’s these next few weeks you’re seeing that. What can you learn from the Titans game that can be applied to that? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: We use some tools when we need to use some tools, and a lot of times you don’t know when those plays are going to come up, but that’s just everyone kind of doing their job the correct way and knowing that that quarterback has that in his skill set and you’ve got to play accordingly by situation, by down and distance, by the call. We have to be very aware of that’s part of his game that that’s one of the main ways that they move the ball down the field.
Just like any key to victory, we have to be very aware of that’s how they’re playing good offense. One of the pieces why they play good offense, and we have to be able to combat it.
Q. You mentioned those cohabitation reports. Is there something when you look at CB James Bradberry that has surprised you since he’s been in the building as opposed to what you read about those reports? (Chris Franklin)
JONATHAN GANNON: No, we were dead on with all those reports and how we vetted his character, it’s probably been better, but [CB] James Bradberry’s football character, you would put it up against anybody in the world. Glad we have him.