Q. You had your third-down dime pressure package in this game. Was the ‘We’re not a dime team’ just slow playing us with this in mind? Or did something change? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: At that point in the season, you remember we didn’t have OTA’s and you want to get good at certain things and you want to be able to put guys in the right spots to function and play.
But that’s something that we have had when we got here. And when we decided to deploy it, we felt good about the guys in the game.
And then we have stuff that’s built off of the coverages and pressures from that group. And the players – it’s really about the players. The players executed the calls.
And the coaches did a really good job of us planning those calls out. But, at the end of the day, the players make plays. And that’s what you saw and that’s why some of those calls worked.
Q. So just to follow up on that, making sure the guys are good at the base stuff before growing the package, did you think about that over the arc of the season from the beginning of the year, that you needed to use the beginning of the season to get good at the base stuff before you could build off of that? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, you just got to be careful. Because, again, you guys know that we play some different stuff. And it’s, like, ‘Okay, well, you know, if’ – you always got to be aware of who are playing in those spots, what’s your backup to that.
If you say, ‘Alright, we’re going to play dime all the time on third down,’ if someone gets hurt, who’s going in for them? How does that affect where this guy has to play or this guy has to move to.
So, you’re always aware of when you have certain packages, who’s coming into those spots and what guys are doing what? Is this guy comfortable doing that, what we’re asking him to do? How does that fit into – and that’s just us, how does that fit into who we’re defending, what we have to defend, is it favorable matchups for us? You start looking at the routes and the people and the protection schemes and the quarterback.
All of that blends into when we deploy certain packages, that’s what we typically feel is the best way to go about it.
But you have to take all of that into consideration. You can’t just throw out a group and call a couple calls and hopefully it works. So, you got to go through it and there’s a process that we use to go through that.
The guys that are playing in those spots have done a good job. And, again, the players are executing.
Q. How much is learning who you have from week one to week 11 versus, ‘Okay, we’re playing Buccaneers QB Tom Brady this week’ or what kind of team you are playing? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: A blend of both. That’s a good question. You always want to be mindful first of what are we asking our guys to do, how that fits into our skill sets, what we’re trying to get done on defense first, and then who you’re defending.
Then that throws in another wrinkle of – and not just the quarterback, you start talking about the O-line, the protection schemes, who you have to cover.
So, there’s always a blend of, ‘What are our guys comfortable doing? What can we do? How can we set them up in good spots to where they can function and execute and win one-on-ones?’
And then you start looking at, ‘All right, what does this quarterback like? What does he struggle with? Who does he have throwing the ball to? What’s their protection schemes.’
So that’s why you see us – we’re a little bit different from week to week and that’s solely based on who we’re playing and how we decide to try to defend them.
So, it kinds of rolls into the same thing with your packages. It’s always going to come down to, who’s up, who’s playing, who we have to defend, what we have to take away, and are we doing a good job of setting it up?
And you heard me say a couple times when we haven’t had success, like, you want to – I always refer to it. It starts with me and the coaches, where, well, on Tuesday we said this and then when we went out to practice, we said, ‘Well, this looked good, this didn’t look good, can we adjust this a little bit?’
And you think that the game is going to be played a certain way. And when it doesn’t get played like that or, we didn’t set our guys up, ‘Well, we didn’t give them that look in practice because, you know, it was un-scouted.’ Or, ‘We didn’t really detail that out with how we’re playing this certain concept or whatever.’ That’s what I mean by that is. Because you can’t just throw up a call and say, ‘Well, hey, that’s versus one formation and one play’ and, say, ‘Well, hopefully this works.’
‘Well, it’s good versus that, but okay you have to adjust it out first for the 15 other formations they give you.’ Or, ‘Yeah, this pressure looks good against this protection, but, oh, by the way in the first couple third downs in the game, they’re doing something completely different.’
So you have to – and that falls on the coaches to be able to adjust, set it up the right way first, ‘How we’re going into the game? What’s our answers to when they adjust, and can we execute those calls?’
I think our guys have done a good job of knowing that pretty much going into the game, ‘Hey, here’s how we’re going to start, this is what we’re going to have to do. If they adjust, we’re going to adjust and then we go from there.’ So, again, it all comes down to the players. And they’re executing at a high level.
Q. What has LB Davion Taylor meant to your defense and what’s the significance of losing him? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: He’s been good when he’s been playing in there. He’s been playing winning football and he’s doing a good job and I like how he’s physical and he’s fast and can make plays in space.
But, I’m very confident – you saw [LB] Alex [Singleton] come in there and even though you saw Alex’s snaps kind of go down a little bit, it’s a testament to him, and the other guys that are in that room, all of our guys, they’re all ready to play. And they get themselves ready to play.
If you can go in, you can be a starter – you can be a starter in every package, a starter in certain packages, or you could be the pair and the spare that we talk about. And you got to be able to go in and play winning football.
So, I was really excited for Alex, because when he got in there, he played well. And that’s really a testament to him to not – sometimes when your snaps get diminished, you kind of –a lot of guys I’ve seen go in the tank a little bit and that hasn’t been him because he’s got high football character. And that’s the guys we want to be there.
Q. What was it about the Saints matchup that made you want to go so heavy nickel and move away from the base? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: That’s how we decided we wanted to start the game. Having to defend [Saints Head Coach] Sean [Payton] a little bit and who they had up available to them, we decided early that we wanted to start in sub and see how it kind of went and start to match as the game wore on or see what they were giving us.
And, honestly, why we made the decision, you saw us play a lot – not too many base snaps that game, when we started the week, that was not the intent.
But as the flow of the game went on, we said, ‘We’re doing a good job in these calls and they’re not attacking some of the things that we thought we were going to get attacked with, so we could just play with that.’
So, when you see myself – when you see us playing fast and physical and processing quickly and the hitting is on display and we’re tackling well, we’re taking the ball away, I’m not going to change too much.
I’ll kind of ride the hot hand, I guess you could say. But they were executing and we said, ‘Let’s just leave it out there and play.’
Q. In the second half, did you take your foot off the pedal? Did the players take their foot off the pedal? And is there a teaching point because of what happened? (Howard Eskin)
JONATHAN GANNON: Well, the teaching point – no, I wouldn’t say we took our foot off the pedal. The situation in the game – you always balance, ‘What’s the score? What’s the time? How many possessions do they have left?’
So, yeah, you’re going to call the game a little bit differently and the head coach is great because he’s on the headset with us and saying, ‘As an offense, here’s what I would be thinking, make sure your plan is to take that away.’
So, when you set the game plan up, you have certain calls you like in certain situations. And as that game went on, being up like we were, then they kind of got back into it, the teaching point to our guys is, on Monday and when they come back in here, we still have to execute at a little bit higher level than what we did.
I thought the execution was high in the first half, third quarter pretty good, fourth quarter I thought we got leaky in some things, rush and cover, cover and rush.
We just got to execute a little bit better so it prevents some of those points from going on the board and nobody’s really tight in the stadium. Because I looked up and I see the crowd and it’s like, ‘Boy, this is getting a little closer than what you would want it to be at this point in the game right now,’ especially where the game was, you know?
And then in my mind, it’s like, ‘All right, let’s blitz them.’ Well, no, that’s not the right thing to do because you give up a 50-yarder for a touchdown and no time’s off the clock, that’s not very smart by me.
So, I don’t think we took our foot off the gas, I’d like to see our execution be consistent throughout the game.
Q. On the broadcast, they made a reference to you not having a crowded play card. A, is that the case relative to other coaches? And B, what’s the philosophy behind that? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Who said that?
Q. The broadcaster. (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: [Mark] Schlereth?
Q. Yeah. Is that accurate? I mean, I don’t – (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: That is accurate. I hear a lot of people talk about identity and this and that. And [QB] Jalen [Hurts] I think said it best, it’s not what you call, it’s not the plays, it’s how you play. And we’ve said that from when we got here, our identity of running to the ball, outhitting people, taking the ball away and being smart.
And that’s always a thing that you’re working on to improve in practice weekly and in games.
And you guys heard me talk about, you want to be doing this [motions hand upwards] as this season goes on. You don’t want these big dips, you play great, you play bad, you play great. You want to keep ascending and playing sound, winning football.
Some games, the sheet’s a little bit more dense, some games it’s a little bit tighter. And that all comes down to who you’re defending, who you have, all that stuff.
So, was the sheet tight this week? It was. And you guys see my sheet. I can’t speak for other people. But some other guys that I know, their call sheets are a lot denser than ours. I’ve always said in my mind, that’s for a reason, that we keep it tight.
One is, so our players can process and things they haven’t seen in practice or have seen ever, they know how to solve problems on the fly, hopefully.
And the second thing is, I think it allows them to – when they’re on their own watching tape, they can say, ‘Okay, here’s the three calls that we’re going to be in. How do you play this, how do you play that, how do you play that?’
Because if you have 10 calls that you can possibly be in, it’s hard to go through each play and say, ‘All right, this adjustment, that adjustment, how do we play this, is that a switch release or is it not?’
So, you go through that with the players, and I always thought that keeping the plan tight takes off mental stress of the player, which in turn should make them play faster.
Again, it’s not what you call, it’s how you do things. It’s how you play. And I think that’s on us to say, ‘Hey, let’s let our guys just get our feet in the grass and just play.’
Q. This is the second week in a row we’ve seen a roughing the passer and it seems like it has to do with the strike zone. Have you guys had to go work on that? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, we talk about it all the time and we drill it and you got to practice it. And that’s another bang-bang. It’s like, ‘Man, it can go either way.’
And I know the refs have a hard job and they call what they call, but we just got to continue to educate our players.
And, you know, ‘This is how we have to hit quarterbacks; this is how we have to not land on them, this is what we have to do with our hands.’
I saw the one – we were watching somebody play – the play [Giants QB] Daniel Jones, and he’s a free runner, and you can tell they coach it to get your pass hand up. And the guy kind of elevates and he doesn’t even really hit him, and his hand comes down and he smacks him in the mouth.
It’s, like, ‘Jeez. It’s a tough one,’ you know? But that’s a tough penalty. Those are bang-bang and that’s always – yes, we have to continue to educate our players and try to stay out of situations where it’s now 50-50.
You know, you see the refs talking to each other. ‘Are we calling that or not? It looked pretty violent. He was up around the head/neck area.’ And then it comes out late. And I think you saw the reaction from the crowd because it wasn’t thrown right away.
Q. Did you see the woman’s reaction? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: I did see the woman’s reaction. My wife, I walked in the door and she says, ‘Man, I love Philadelphia.’ And I said, ‘So do I.’
But, yeah, so we just got to continue – that’s the smarts. We got to continue to coach that and do better at those things. And, again, understanding that those bang-bang plays happen and just got to get that a little bit better. Because those are costly penalties.
Q. When you shuffled linebackers earlier this season, how much of the why was related to LB Alex Singleton and how did he handle it then and since then? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: He handled it good. He understands that he still had a very big role on this defense and that could increase at any time. And he basically – when [LB] Davion [Taylor], his rep count went up, Alex [Singleton] said, ‘I’ll be ready to go when you guys need me. And I’m going to be a star within my role.’
And that’s why he went in there and played well, because a lot of times you see guys that come in and they don’t play well, they’re typically not prepared to play. And this guy is ready to play all the time.
And like I said, he’s got high football character. And his snaps will increase with Davion being out a little bit and he’s going to play well.
Q. What did you see from CB Zech McPhearson when he had to go in there for CB Darius Slay? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: He’s played well. He’s learning on the job. There’s a couple plays I’m sure he wants back.
And I think with [CB] Zech [McPhearson], not having that offseason hurts the young guys. It hurts rookies, it hurts first, second, third year guys that haven’t played a lot of snaps because those snaps are very valuable. And game reps are even more valuable.
And what I like from Zech is in the preseason, he gave up some plays in the preseason and you saw him correct that and adjust that.
We just got to keep getting him reps and play winning football for us as far as, ‘Get on the right people, do the right things in the coverages, keep your eyes right.’ He’s done a really good job of improving his eye discipline.
And [Eagles Defensive Backs Coach] Denard [Wilson] and [Eagles Assistant Defensive Backs Coach] D.K. [McDonald], he’s on those guys about details. And Zech’s doing a good job of taking those details and the production and the play making will start to come.