Jonathan Gannon

Q. So, I guess you’ve probably heard the passing numbers. More than 80% from five quarterbacks that have completed against you guys. Is that reflective of how the team defense has performed in those the games? (Jeff McLane)

JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, that’s what the numbers say. We definitely have to get that completion percentage down and there’s a number of ways to do that.

It starts with us, as coaches, to detail out some things and change some looks. And rush and cover, cover and rush have to get a little bit better.

But when you’re playing good quarterbacks with good skilled people – we played well at times, but probably not consistent enough. So, that number has to come down. We have to improve that with our pass defense to be able to provide some resistance to good offenses.

Q. It looks alarming from the statistics. Is it alarming to you or is it something that you feel is fixable and not – (Dave Zangaro)

JONATHAN GANNON: Definitely fixable, absolutely. I wouldn’t say alarming to me. I would say that we know the areas that we have to get better at, and we’ve done that at times. We just have to be a little more consistent.

It really, though, again it starts with us setting it up a little bit better, how I call the game a little bit better at some certain spots where you can throw a wrench into what the quarterback is seeing or when they call certain plays, you’d like to be in a couple better calls here or there. 

But, ultimately, it’s about all of us just improving and being a little more consistent.

Q. With CB Darius Slay and CB Steven Nelson’s background and quarterbacks getting the ball out so quickly, what’s your apprehension with playing press with man? (Mike Kaye)

JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, we do play press a little bit. And there are certain spots that we would like to tighten up. And that comes down to me, calling it to get tighter.

But we feel good about those guys in the backend, to either play off or press, and some of that goes into the call. Some of that goes into the situation in the game.

So we just got to do a little bit better job, myself, of calling it a little bit better of when we need to get tight, get tight.

Q. What changed from CB Andre Chachere to S Marcus Epps in the nickel when CB Avonte Maddox was out? (Bo Wulf)

JONATHAN GANNON: I just felt like both of those guys have played that spot and I wanted to see what [S] Marcus [Epps] could do in there a little bit. And [CB Andre Chachere] came in and played okay for us.

But Marcus has been playing winning football for us and I wanted to get him on the field with some other guys.

Q. When the quarterback is getting the ball out quickly – and maybe quicker than you would expect it, I don’t know if that was the case game day – but how does it change things for you at that point when you say, ‘All right, this is coming out really quick, what can I do to adjust to that?’ (John McMullen)

JONATHAN GANNON: You have to adjust the coverages a little bit. I thought they did a good job – they mixed in a little more quick game than we expected. But teams have done that vs. us because of our D-line.

In our back pocket, we have to have maybe a couple more calls or me calling them a little more to say, ‘Hey, this is how the game is being played. Here’s what we need to do to combat that a little bit.’

So, the rush and cover, cover and rush, that’s all 11 guys. So, when the D-line is not getting there, there’s reasons for that in the backend.

When the back end is not covering great, there’s reasons for that in the front end. It all marries together.

So, to play really good defense, to play really good pass defense, run defense, you need all 11 to be on the same page and execute at a high level.

And that goes into, ‘Do your job so your buddy can have success doing his.’ That all blends together.

Q. It’s not a stretch to say personnel-wise your D-line is the strength of your group. Overall, this season, how do you think they’re playing? (Zach Berman)

JONATHAN GANNON: I think they’re playing well. We’ve made some strides I think in the run game. I think that’s improving.

And there’s been times where our D-line has dominated games. Now, that game two days ago, it was very apparent that they were not going to allow that to happen.

So, again, all 11 have to play a little bit better. We have to coach a little bit better, I have to call it a little better to get those guys some rushes where they are singled up and the ball’s not coming out so fast.

Q. Just one sack at home in four games and on the road, sixteen. You’ve played good quarterbacks on the road, too. Why is that? You should have the crowd noise – (Bob Grotz)

JONATHAN GANNON: You know, I don’t know that. It’s just a little bit how those – I guess off the top of my head, the teams that we’ve played at home, those styles were a little bit different, those teams that came in here and played us as opposed to the teams on the road.

But we definitely have to look at that and say, ‘Hey, not just home or away, how can we be a little bit better weekly to affect the quarterback a little bit more.’

Q. Your blitz numbers were, I guess, overall – I don’t know if you look at the same – it seems like it was up a little bit the past game but the last two drives, I think there was only one more than four-man rush. Did you feel, maybe looking back upon it, that you should have sent some more when things weren’t going your way? (Jeff McLane)

JONATHAN GANNON: A little bit. They caught a couple of pressures into some runs. But, when you look at it in passing situations, what they were doing, they were not going to let us hit the quarterback.

So, you saw, like, double chips. You saw some six, seven-man protections. So, typically when you see that as a defense, you devote more to coverage. You put more in coverage knowing that pressures aren’t going to get home and you’re kind of leaving your cover guys out to dry.

I think, though, I can set it up a little bit better when teams are doing that, just be a little more creative how we are aligning our pieces and what we are doing to generate more pressure, so teams can’t say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do so you have to play a certain way.’

I think that I can – we can be a little more – we can dictate a little bit more just with the plan, how we set that up to where teams can’t always dictate that.

Q. What are your statistic priorities, if you could rank them? (Tim McManus)

JONATHAN GANNON: Wins and losses.

Q. Right. In terms of defensive production, what do you hone in on? (Tim McManus)

JONATHAN GANNON: It changes weekly. You know, I mean, some games we say, hey, we got to keep the yards per rush down. Do we want to keep the team under a hundred yards passing?

Explosives is a big one for me. Explosive passes. The quickest way to get beat is get the ball thrown over your head. So, that’s always in my mind when we set up the plan, how many chances are they going to take to where we’re not in a great coverage versus those shot plays.

So, wins and losses to me and then by game plan, what you decide, ‘Hey, this is what they do really well, these numbers have to be pretty good to give us a chance to win.’ And, again, that changes weekly. Good question.

Q. The coaches in Philadelphia want you to blitz more. Your defense checked out of the blitz multiple times, from what I understand. What do you do when they have a formation that is not accommodating to a blitz to try to get to the quarterback? And it’s, obviously, more than just the four-down linemen. (Howard Eskin)

JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, by situation and formation, you can change some things up. So, that’s a good question.

But I think, ultimately, when we set up the plan, we say, ‘Hey, these, however many calls are very aggressive, we’re going to call them and run them. And it is what it is.’

Other times, where if you call those calls and they’re in certain formations or certain situations, you’re – it’s not good for the defense, typically.

So, there are a couple, actually, that I would like to have back in that game, where we were ultra-aggressive to not great formations and plays, that we caught pressures into. And it was like, on the headset – ‘That’s not what I wanted that for,’ you know?

But with saying that, there’s a blend of that because you can’t put too much mental stress on the players of always checking out of something or checking into something.

So, that’s always a blend of how we set it up, where’s the mental stress, where’s the physical stress within the game?

Q. The quarterbacks getting the ball out so quickly has been sort of a theme after games, just talking to guys and you talked about it. I think over the course of the season, the quarterbacks are getting the ball out quicker against your defense than any other team. What is it about this defense that makes that an emphasis for opposing offenses? (Bo Wulf)

JONATHAN GANNON: I think, one, personnel driven, who we have with the front. I think teams are very aware of our D-line can rush.

And the other thing is, is, because we are set up to take away some explosives, they say, ‘Okay, well, in these certain plays, by the look, pre-snap, if the explosive isn’t there and you know it’s not there, get it out of your hand.’

So, that goes into us setting the plan up better to say, ‘Hey, let’s either not show those looks or change the picture pre- and post-snap to the quarterback. Or be a little more aggressive at times how we tighten up on people.’

Q. When you look at DT Javon Hargrave, he had 6 sacks in the first four or five games, hasn’t had any since. Are the offensive linemen, are they playing him differently? Is he still playing as well as he was earlier in the year? (Martin Frank)

JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, I think he’s playing just as well. Teams are playing him a little bit differently. There were a couple times where the back actually chipped his way out. They’re chipping our inside guys, so they’re kind of changing the chips.

But he’s playing well. He had a couple pressures in there. I know the sack production isn’t there, but he’s doing a very good job in the pass game of rushing the quarterback. When he gets one on ones, he typically wins those. And I’m not worried about [Javon Hargrave]. The production will keep coming.

Q. We’ve seen LB T.J. Edwards play more recently. What does T.J. Edwards do for your defense? (Dave Zangaro)

JONATHAN GANNON: I think from a standpoint of being in the right spot, playing in the run game, running the defense, he’s doing a really good job. He’s playing winning football for us.

You see how physical he is inside. There were a couple times where they ran iso plays or lead plays and he took on the fullback, knocked him back, and made the tackle.

He’s doing a good job as far as what I look for in the Mike, is running the show, being in the right spot and playing winning football in the run and pass game, and he is doing that.

Q. With that said though, why did former Eagles LB Eric Wilson not work out here? (Mike Kaye)

JONATHAN GANNON: A combination of kind of the guys that are playing well right now that we have playing. I think that that’s really the major reason.

It’s not so much what Eric didn’t do, it’s what other guys did do. And we feel like the guys that we have right now that are playing, or that are backing up those spots, can play winning football for us.

Q. In the summer, we asked you what you have learned about this job and role never having been in this position. Now that you’ve coached as a defensive coordinator and called games for nine weeks, what have you learned about this job? (Zach Berman)

JONATHAN GANNON: Man, that’s always a good question. Coach better. Everything that we do on that field and the completion rate, it’s like I’m a DB guy. Like, ‘Man, 80 percent completion. That’s not great.’

And it’s always comes from me, what I learned is, you improve daily. And not to say that I didn’t have that mindset before I was a coordinator, but it’s really on myself and the coaches to say, ‘Hey, let’s set our guys up a little bit better and strive to be a little bit better and a little more consistent with how we play the game.’

So, the hardest thing for me is not having a group that I have my hands on, is – not the hardest thing, but the thing that is most different that I learned the most is, it’s not just hands on one group, you got to have hands on all three groups, you know?

And how much you coach those guys, myself, it has to be impactful. Like, when I tell [LB] Davion [Taylor] something, it has to allow him to get better and play winning football.

Same thing as when I talk to [DE Derek] Barnett or a guy in the secondary, or whoever, to give those guys – to be able to make improvements. When I’m telling those guys to coach them up and serve the player to get them better.

Where that’s a broad view where I’m sitting now, where as when I was a defensive back coach, I wasn’t worried about the D-line or the linebackers, I was just handling my room. And I can, obviously, continue to get better and learn as we go with doing that.

Q. Going back to what you said about how certain offenses are playing you, maybe the quarterbacks getting the balls out quickly, the explosive plays not there, how much can you dictate with pre-snap stuff and changing things that way? (John McMullen)

JONATHAN GANNON: You can. But, when you do that, we always – you know, ‘What is this look, this look with this call, what do you want to show?’ 

And then you got to go through all the formations, and where people are, and different things like that. And without getting your guys – you know, a lot of people – here’s a good one, like, there’s – way back when, when you’re studying different disguises and things, right, a team – we did it at Minnesota – a team that has a safety on the line of scrimmage, well he plays in a deep post after the ball is snapped. And I always thought to myself – I got this from the players, they would say, ‘JG, that’s all cool and everything, but I have no shot to make any play in the middle of the field because I’m coming from the line of scrimmage. So, the disguise is great, but you’re really hamstringing me to be able to make plays.’

So, there’s a blend of how much you can tilt the coverage and disguise and make it look really different on the quarterback pre- and post-snap with also getting your guys in position to get what they need to get done within the call.

And like everything, there’s a blend to that. When can we be really aggressive with how we’re aligning people and when we really can’t?

Like, ‘This guy has three vertical and he’s on the line of scrimmage, and this guy is flexed out, hash plus two, like, good luck.’

So, that’s always an ever-evolving thing. And, with situationally, where can you take those chances, so to speak, to align people in certain ways.

Q. You mentioned DE Derek Barnett a second ago. What’s the message to him after another damaging third-down penalty? (Reuben Frank)

JONATHAN GANNON: He’s doing a good job. He’s improved that part of his game, I think. He’s playing, I would say, more disciplined with what we’re asking him to do with the penalties thing.

I’m very happy with Derek [Barnett]. No one’s going to be harder on him than himself. But it’s just to lock in and make sure that we don’t have pre-snap penalties and keep doing what he’s doing, because he’s doing a good job in the run and pass game.