Q. We heard DT Milton Williams got a game ball from the Detroit game. What did you see from him in that game? And what have you seen from him over the course of the first half of the rookie season? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: The second part to that question first, he’s improving every day. So, he’s doing a real good job. A lot of stuff for any rookie is new, and just what we ask him to do and different things in the run game, in the pass game, he’s improving in those things.
And what happened in the game was some production came with him increasing his role and getting better and better and better and the ball came his way a couple times and he made the plays.
And that’s the thing, like what we’ve talked about with production. Does the guy consistently do his job and then when the ball comes to him, does he make the play or not? That’s really, ultimately, what you’re looking for, and [DT] Milton [Williams] did that.
And it was good to see him have some success and some production, even though he’s been producing within our defense.
But on the stat sheet, it shows up that he made some plays and some impact plays for us. That was the reason he got the game ball.
Q. Why the change at linebacker? Why more LB T.J. Edwards? Was that sort of Detroit-centric or was that something – (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: A little bit. It’s always going to be who is out there playing is – we always kind of break it up into kind of three things. ‘All right, what do our guys do well? What are we trying to defend? And how is the game going?’
So, that was – we made a little bit of a change with [LB] Davion [Taylor] and [LB] T.J. [Edwards] in there playing, and excited about all those guys in that room, in the linebacker room. But both of those guys we felt did a pretty good job playing winning football.
Q. Is it important to have not just optionality, but also defined roles going forward, where guys know what packages they’re going to be in? (Geoff Mosher)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, very important for us because we say to our guys, ‘Be a star within your role.’ Now, with saying that, that can change quickly by injury, by if a guy’s not executing the right way or how the game goes. That all changes as the game kind of unfolds and you end up playing more of this call than we did out of this call, you know what I mean? Because the game was what it was. It was 17-0 at half and we scored again there. It kind of went a different way than if it had been a 7-7 game.
So, our guys are all versed on, ‘Hey, here’s what I’m doing this week. Here’s the packages I’m in. This is what I need to execute to play winning football.’
Then with the whole, ‘If this guy goes down, you’ve got to step into this role and if this guy’s getting a bunch of clock in this package, you might back him up here and in another package.’ So, that’s an ever-evolving thing throughout the week and on game day.
Q. Did you challenge more or did winning more on first and second down allow you to challenge more? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: A little bit of both, I think. Going into the game, we figured out in our mind, the coaches first and then when you game plan, like today we’re game planning, and you’ve got to start making decisions before the players come in here.
And it’s like, ‘All right, well, if we do this, that puts,’ — not everything takes away one thing. So, it’s ultimately trying to say, ‘Hey, here’s who we have, here’s what they do well. Here’s what we have to defend that we cannot get beat by.’ And then you go down with that.
And then you have to be able to counter some things that, if the game’s not going right, you’ve got to change it up. Or if the game is going right, sometimes you can leave it or sometimes you can change it.
I do feel like the D line dominated that game in the run and pass game and that we got to a lot of second- and third-down, known pass situations, and it’s tough for anybody.
And our guys up front, all nine guys that played, played winning football. They executed in the run and pass game and it made a tough day for Detroit, obviously.
So, I think a blend of us winning first down kind of fed into second and third down, which you saw a little bit.
Q. What are some of the traits that CB Avonte Maddox has that make him so well suited for the slot, and what have you seen from him this year? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: The first thing I look for is slot cornerback: quickness, instincts and strike. And he has those three things.
You talk about that position, you heard me talk about to you guys, – I would argue with anybody, he has the most mental stress on him. More than the linebackers, more than safeties, more than the D line, more than the corners. Just named everybody, I guess.
But saying we put a lot on his plate, and he handles it extremely well. And not to say that he doesn’t make mistakes or can’t he keep improving, but he’s an ultra-competitive player. Everything that we ask him to do, and we ask him to do a lot, he can do really well.
And he’s a great dude. I mean, he’s always positive – ‘What can I do’ – like a lot of our guys, like all of our guys – ‘what can I do to help our team win this game? Even if it means I have tough duty on a couple of things.’
Even if that – well, because you’ve been around players that, ‘Well, I don’t want to play this call because I’m one-on-one with this guy.’ ‘Well, you’ve got to be one-on-one with this guy because we’re doubling somebody else, bro.’ Tough duty. One thing doesn’t take away everything.
And he’s always very willing to take on the hard challenge and he’s been a joy to be around.
Q. If I can take you back a few years, what did you tell former John Carroll Head Coach Tom Arth about Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley? And what’s your personal relationship with Brandon? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Wow, [Chargers Head Coach] Brandon [Staley] and I go back playing AAU basketball against each other in the Cleveland area since we were 10 years old. Then we got in the coaching business together. We developed a relationship because we were competing against each other on the basketball floor.
And then developed a relationship – he played quarterback at Dayton and finished out with his brother, transferred. Then we got into the coaching business at the same time. And so, I knew him – as you are a young guy cutting your teeth in the business, you develop friendships.
And he was – we never worked together. But, ‘Hey, this is what I’ve got going on.’ ‘This is what I’ve got going on.’ ‘Man, I wish we did it like you.’ ‘Man, but you guys don’t do this.’ All the back and forth that anybody in any job or profession has.
And so, when [former John Carroll Head Coach] Tom [Arth] called me, I was in Tennessee at the time and didn’t really want that job, I wanted to stay in the NFL. He said, ‘Well, who would you hire?’ I said Brandon Staley, just because I knew how much – how passionate he was and the type of coach that – just talking to him and knowing him, the guy that he is is that he would do an excellent job for Tom. And that’s all I told him.
Sometimes, all you need is, you’ve got to know somebody to show somebody. So, I got him in the door with Tom, and the rest was history. I don’t take any credit for Tom hiring him because he did that all himself.
But we’re friends. We’re good friends and we talk. I learned a lot of ball from him and hopefully he’s learned some ball from me.
Q. He’s become popular for standing up in front of the mic having pensive thoughts on things and football philosophies to other things. Is that the Brandon Staley you remember competing against at a young age? (Geoff Mosher)
JONATHAN GANNON: 100 percent. He’s very convicted what’s in his brain. And he knows how to articulate that. And he stands behind it and he gets other people to stand behind it.
Q. How helpful is Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen this week for you? Obviously, his history with Justin Herbert. (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: Awesome. Awesome. Big time. We sat down with Shane, most of the defensive coaches with Shane and talked — obviously he was with them — and Wash [Eagles director of player personnel/senior defensive assistant Jeremiah Washburn] was with [Chargers offensive coordinator] Joe Lombardi in Detroit, and so was Jim Bob. We sat down with those guys.
Anytime guys — anybody we play there’s no stone unturned. If we can get a little bit of information or try to figure out a little bit of a why. But ultimately, you know, that’s what people could say, ‘Well, let’s ask Mike Zimmer what Jonathan is doing.’
Mike Zimmer might say, ‘Watch the tape.’ So that’s ultimately the out — we pick people’s brains and try to gather information but ultimately when we started watching them yesterday, ‘All right, let’s watch what they’re doing, see what they do well. See how we have to defend them,’ all that stuff.
So use all the information you can but ultimately it’s us, it’s on our plate to watch the tape and say, ‘Hey, this is what gives us the best chance to win.’
Q. What information does come from those conversations that you wouldn’t see on tape? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: Stuff like, ‘Hey, this is what Herbert does really well and this is what we were trying to improve with him. This is the looks that he likes. This is how he wants to play.’ Stuff like that.
Just with any quarterback, what is he comfortable doing, and what can we try to do to make him uncomfortable? That would be the biggest thing for the quarterback.
Q. Could you hit us with a story about Nick Sirianni from the first eight weeks here that kind of encapsulates how you see him as a leader and a coach? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: Probably before week three, maybe, he texted me — we obviously talk daily — but I think on a Friday night normally he leaves me alone. Friday night he texts me, and he had a very clear, concise picture of, ‘Hey, let’s do this and get it rolling.’
And he’s highly competitive. And it was good because like obviously how we talk in the building is one way and he was talking to me more so I think as a friend than my boss. And it was, “Let’s go.”
So that was kind of cool to see, because obviously we’re friends. But the first hat that he wears for me is the head coach, not my friend.
So it’s always — and I told him, my thing is I’m trying to do the best job that I can, that the coaches can to have him have success.
It’s just like the players. You do your job so your buddy can have success doing his. For us, let’s do our job so Nick can have success being the head coach. That’s servant leadership. That’s what we’re trying to do.
Q. Playing off the looking at Justin Herbert through Shane Steichen’s eyes, how much of what Brandon Staley does defensively is based upon his offensive background? And has that factored into anything how you – (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: When you watch the tape, Brandon is a defensive guy. I know he played quarterback. But he’s a defensive coach. But you can tell, it’s funny, because I have a very high opinion of their offensive coaches, who they have on that staff, the trees that they’re from.
And each guy on that staff is kind of, honestly if you look at it, there’s some guys from the Shanahan tree, some guys from the Gruden tree, some guys from the Sean Payton tree.
You start talking about guys from those trees and it’s, like, ‘Boy, these teams are hard to defend.’ Then they put it all together, you see elements of different parts of their offense that’s really hard.
And I’m sure Brandon has helped Joe [Lombardi] with, ‘Hey, this is what really attacks a defense, do it.’ So that’s what I think you start to see show up. A lot of people, it might look good or it might seem good, but it’s ultimately what your players can execute.
But from a philosophical standpoint and from an X and O standpoint, you see them doing some things that are, I would say, ahead of the curve with trying to attack defenses with different styles of defense that they play, that people play.
It’s going to be a big-time challenge because they know what they’re doing.
Q. In past years coaches have sat up there and have downplayed sacks relative to the public importance and have emphasized more pressures. The counter to that is that sacks are negative plays, pressures don’t always lead to a result. What’s your stance on that? Do you think sacks is kind of the end all, be all there or do you value pressure more? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: No, I don’t. I value both. You saw what a bunch of sacks do to the game. I also think like you saw what a couple pressures do to a quarterback. Some guys will stand in there and take it and get hit and deliver a strike. That happened on the second down. We brought some people and we had a free runner and hit them.
And I do think that affects quarterbacks a little bit, especially when it’s something that might be new for him or then he starts looking around. And are they going to bring that again or are they not.
So, you’re always trying to put — you’re always trying to pre- and post-snap affect the quarterback. There’s a lot of different ways to go about that. But I put a high importance on hitting the quarterback and sacking the quarterback.
And there are all kinds of ways to get that done. It’s just how you go about that each week is, typically changes a little bit by who you’re playing and who you have.
Q. S Marcus Epps and obviously his extra playing time since S Anthony Harris has been down, what have you seen from him? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: Playing at a high level. I’ve said all of our safeties from the start, it’s a good job for the people that [Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] has in here. What I look for in the safety position, he has everything that I look for.
I mean from a mental standpoint, from a physical-trait standpoint, the toughness that he brings to the defense, the athleticism, the ball skills, the tackling, the run-the-show, you know — as much as [CB] Avonte [Maddox], as we put on Avonte, we put on those safeties too, with the style we play.
You might think, “What do you mean by the ‘style you play?’ You’ve got a couple of coverages.” There’s a lot that goes into the coverages by certain things.
We put a lot on his plate and he handles it. He’s another one like Avonte, very positive when it’s not going his way or our way, it’s on to the next play. He has very next-play mentality that the head coach preaches. And he’ll continue to play for us because he’s playing winning football.