Q. Wanted to ask you about DE Cameron Malveaux. Played 34 snaps, hadn’t played in like three years on defense. What has he shown you since he got here a few weeks into the season on the practice squad, and how do you think he managed out there on Sunday? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: It was a really good acquisition by [Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and [Eagles Head Coach] Nick [Sirianni]. Brought him here, and he has a lot of the skillsets we’re looking for in a defensive lineman, and what he showed on practice squad and scout teams was he was doing a good job with effort and technique and motor, and we felt really good about him going in the game and playing solid for us, and that’s what he did.
So excited about him because he’s such a good worker. It’s nice to see when a guy works and works and keeps working that he got some production and got in the game and did a good job for us.
Q. You guys are in the top 10 among defenses in the league in a lot of different categories. Can you tell — I mean, you guys struggled early defensively. Can you tell, are you a top 10 defense? Do you feel like a top 10 defense? Or is this more of a product of who you’ve played and the quarterbacks you’ve faced? (Marcus Hayes)
JONATHAN GANNON: That’s a good question. I mean, I might sound negligent, but I really don’t read or care about stats. 8 and 7; that’s the stat that I know, so that shows us we got a long way to go.
Am I happy that we’re improving week to week? Yes. I think the players are doing an excellent job and I think the coaches are doing a really good job. We talk about it all the time, this is the first year in what we’re doing. We got some guys doing some new things. It’s a brand new coaching staff.
As you go along the season you figure out certain ways how you want to play and who you’re defending and what’s working and what’s not. I really think it’s a credit to the position coaches and the players that we’ve kept improving just a little bit each week.
Sometimes it doesn’t show up and you might get gassed or lose a ballgame or not play as well as you want to play, but I feel like we’re starting to hit our stride a little bit. With saying that, it’s a week-to-week league, guys. You know that. The challenge is ahead of us for this upcoming week, and just because you think you’re playing well for the last couple weeks doesn’t mean that’s going to go onto the field and you just show up and that is what it is.
So, we got to put the work forth ahead to give us a chance to win the game.
Q. From strictly a leadership perspective, how are Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni and Colts Head Coach Frank Reich similar and how are they different? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: I think they’re both emotionally stable. You saw that in our first year in Indy. I think we started 1 and 5 and ended up ripping off a bunch and ended up 10 and 6 getting into the playoffs.
We didn’t start as anybody would have wanted to, but Nick just stuck to the process and really doubled down on what he talks about to you guys is what he knows is true for the team. How to play winning football and complementary football and what it takes from each guy in the building to do that. You have to have a level of stability about yourself, because if you start riding the wave of emotion through an NFL season, that’s a recipe for disaster, good and bad.
And so, I think he’s done a very good job. He’s very similar to Frank in that way where nothing really bugs him too much. It’s always about get one percent better every day, and the results will come if the process is correct.
Q. The NFL has kind of changed its hiring policies this year for potential head coaching candidates. Your name gets brought up a lot on those lists. Nick Sirianni talked about it a little bit earlier this week. Curious how you guys handle that, what advice he has given you in case you get that call and someone wants to talk to you? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: Honestly, I haven’t really talked to Nick about that. In the off-season we talked about it a little bit. I appreciate the question, but guys, like come on now. We’re fighting to get into the dance. I always talk to our players about be where your feet are. What that means is I’m not thinking about the future. I’m not thinking about the past. I’m thinking about beating Washington.
So that’s my sole focus with that.
Q. Nick Sirianni told us there will be some changes to the protocols this week to keep everybody safe with the COVID surge, including keeping the quarterbacks in separate rooms. Curious what that’s going to look like on the defensive side of the ball, what we should expect from your group this week in terms of any heightened protocols? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: That’s a good question. We’ll sit down with the head coach and Howie this afternoon about that. I’m sure whatever plan they have in place, I tell our guys all the time, we adapt and adjust. Nobody wants to hear about problems, just want to hear about solutions.
Whatever the protocols are, however they’re changing, we’ll continue to deal with it in a positive way and make sure that we’re ready to play football on Sunday.
Q. I imagine it’s not a bold opinion to suggest that playing defense against Buccaneers QB Tom Brady and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is different than against Giants QB Jake Fromm. From your perspective, when you evaluate the effectiveness of your group in either direction, what kind of curve do you allow for the opponent and the personnel? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Good question. I mean, you guys, we always talk about it. When you set up the game plan it’s who we have up playing, what do our players do well, what do we have to defend, and who do we have to defend on the other side. That’s how the game plan gets put together. That’s different every week.
So, when we look who we’re going against and how we want to set up the game plan, how we want to play, also knowing that when we sit down with Nick every Tuesday and hear how they’re going to play on special teams and offense, that also goes into how we play on defense.
That’s a constant evolution and communication between the head coach with the entire organization. Hey, this is how we want to play this game, and this is what we want to get done to put ourselves in position to win.
So, the answer to that is that changes weekly.
Q. What was it that kept LB TJ Edwards from starting initially, and what all of a sudden changed your mind about him? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Nothing really that kept him from starting initially. We started playing a bunch of different guys in different packages thinking we’re going to put them in the right spots for their skillsets a little bit.
Just with what TJ has done is, when we evaluated it, whenever we sat down, we wanted to see what improvements could we make moving forward. He was a guy that stuck out that we said, ‘We really can’t afford to take this guy off the field.’
That’s why you saw his playing time increase and that’s why you see he’s playing really well for us right now. Very happy about how TJ is running the show for us, and he’ll continue to do that.
Q. To follow that up, you said that stat you care about 8 and 7; you guys are 6 and 2 since you made that move. How has TJ Edwards impacted the rest of the defense? How has the defense evolved around him since making that move? (Mike Kaye)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, it’s been going in the right direction. I do think that it’s a calming effect for the defense to have one signal caller, and when you play a lot of packages, as we do, that can get challenging at times.
But he’s really settled in. He’s the green dot and he makes all the front mechanic calls with the front. I mean, he’s making the back end calls with the back end guys, and he’s just a really good communicator.
You hear me talking about being emotionally stable. He’s one of those guys that every once in a while I’ll juice him in his ear and he just gives me a thumbs up. ‘I got you, Coach.’ Or, ‘TJ, get this done.’ ‘I got you, Coach,’ and then a call comes in. He’s been a joy to be around. He’s smart, tough, physical. He’s what we look for in the MIKE position and he’s playing well.
Q. The safety rotation with S Marcus Epps that you’ve been using the past few games, are you happy with that, and what were the conversations like with S Rodney McLeod and S Anthony Harris given they’re both guys used to being on the field every snap? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, I am happy how that’s going. That’s a credit to [Eagles Defensive Backs Coach] Dennard [Wilson] and [Eagles Assistant Defensive Backs Coach] D.K. [McDonald]. They’ve done a really good job with that. Not just the safety position, but everybody. The nickel and the corner spots, the whole back end. I’m really pleased where that group is going and where they’re trending and how they are playing right now.
To always say that we’re always trying to look to get incrementally better each week, but for Rodney and Anthony, two vets that have played at a very high level, that’s what I love about both of those guys. [They say] Yeah, whatever is best for the team, that’s what we’ll do.
That’s the kind of leadership and character you’re looking for in your defense. You’ve heard me talk about that. We’ve been around good players that want to play their way whether or not it’s right for the defense or not. Both of those guys, they’re completely 100% team-first guys and will do whatever we ask them to do to win the football game.
Been very pleased with how that room is playing, how the rotation is going, and couldn’t be happier and more excited to be around 23 and 28.
Q. Just asked Eagles Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen about RB Boston Scott, a guy that had to wait his turn a little bit, and then when he got on the field really kind of delivered. LB Genard Avery is a little similar, not exact. The last couple weeks certainly has made an impact. What have you seen from him and what do you like about where he’s playing and the way he’s playing? (Rob Kuestner)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, really good question. He’s doing an excellent job for us. He brings a lot of energy and juice to the field. He’s athletic. He can strike. You’ve seen him, he can rush, he plays the run game extremely well, and he can drop a little bit.
I do tip my hat to him because there — you know, you never know how the game is going to go, and there has been some games where he hasn’t played a ton of snaps. I’m sure he wants to play a little bit more. And there are games that he’s played more than what he thought he was going to play.
You know, he stays present, he’s in the moment, and whenever he’s in there he knows he needs to do his job and make plays for us to be successful.
So excited about what he did in the last couple ball games, and he’ll continue to do that.
Q. I also wanted to ask you about how you think Rodney McLeod has played week to week, an older player coming back from I think a second ACL. Of course he popped this weekend. How have you seen him progress? Has he been steady? Has it been up and down? How do you think Rodney has played? (Marcus Hayes)
JONATHAN GANNON: Very steady. I mean, the first thing I look for in a safety is reliability. He is the epitome of that word. He is always in the right spot. He takes the right angles. He runs the show back there with the calls and adjustments. He’s emotionally stable. When things aren’t going great, there is no panic in his game.
I do think there is a level of — you know, from the safety position, and it’s unfortunate because the game, how it’s evolved — not unfortunate because I get the player safety — but there is a lot of rules right now that protect the offense, and he brings a physical element that people, receivers and people that carry the ball, are very aware of.
When you talk about being an intense group that wants to outhit people, as we said when we got in here, he’s one of those guys that carries the torch for us. So, I love the physical presence he brings back there when he’s come into the box, out of the post, playing different forms of cloud. He’s a great tackler. He can cover. He does everything we’re looking for in a safety.
But reliability, and he’s not up and down. He’s consistent, plays good, sound football, and does what we ask him to do.