Q. Initial 53 is there for you, so wanted to get your first impressions of your side of the football, obviously heavy on the defensive line, are you comfortable with what you have and what you’ve seen from training camp? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, very comfortable. Love how the roster was put together and it’s always ever-changing. You guys will start to see the additions of the practice squad and some other guys come. [Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman] and [Eagles Head Coach] Nick [Sirianni] have done a great job of giving us what we needed, with balancing other factors that they have to balance. But as a staff, we feel really good about the guys that are here.
Q. How would you describe the depth you guys have, specifically at the Sam and Will linebacker positions? (Chris Franklin)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, good. Yeah, that’s one of the reasons, you’ve seen us cross-train all those guys, one of the reasons like I said was for depth and that entire room, all those guys can play multiple spots. So, it’s a good thing to have as far as when you go into a game depending on the game plan, when you’re putting it together, ‘Okay, well, if this guy gets hurt, who is going in for them?’ You know, if we’re – ‘If this guy gets nicked, do we have to slide this guy to another spot?’ All those guys are cross-trained.
Coach Rallis [Eagles Linebackers Coach Nick Rallis] did a really good job with those guys of mixing and matching and feel really good about their skill sets and how we are going to fit them in and piece them together with the game plan.
Q. You’ve spent the past decade, decade plus working under defensive coordinators. What have you learned about the job you would only know sitting in this seat? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Good question. I guess just to — I think to listen. I guess it shouldn’t be taken for granted, but there’s a lot of expertise with the coaches that we have on our staff, both defense and our offense and our head coach, and the players. A lot of times, we learn a lot, I do, about the game from the players. You know, it’s one thing for me to have a thought in my mind and say, ‘Hey, I see it being played like this or the communication is like this,’ but when you actually ask the players, they might open up your lens and you might learn something. And we have a really good group of guys, and they are really smart. I mean, we had a meeting today and it was like a couple things that were said in the meeting were like eye-opening like, ‘Wow, yeah, that makes a lot more sense than what I was saying.’
So I think for me, just being in the seat that I am in is listening and listening more so than when you’re a position coach because you don’t have all that expertise around you that you’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Our communication as a staff is really good and we have really good coaches that have a lot of expertise, and it’s actually like one of the best parts of the job is collaborating with everybody and being in a meeting room together with everybody and trying to figure out certain things.
Q. How close are you, do you think to being able to implement all of the things that you have been talking about since we met you a few months ago, whether it be getting input like you said from the players on how to do things, or being able to move guys around in different fronts. How close are you to being able to do that now that you’ve had a few weeks with these guys? (Marcus Hayes)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, I feel good about where we’re at. I think we threw a lot at our players, especially when you talk about — didn’t really get to practice in the spring and we were kind of just an our own, which was good, because we needed that work just to get everybody lined up and things like that. But when you start talking about, you start going against our offense in training camp and those joint practices and we’re throwing a lot on them, it’s a lot heavier of a practice. In training camp, there’s a lot heavier menu than there will be in a game. They handled it really well.
So, I feel good about our ability to adjust and adapt on the fly, make certain changes from series to series, from play-to-play even sometimes. And it’s really a credit to our guys. We want them to be smart and everyone in that room, they have very good football character and mental makeup.
The other side of that, too, is we talked about being emotionally stable. What I mean by that is just because we have, you know, we taught something a certain way, if we feel like that’s not the best way to do it moving forward, we might want to tweak things or change things a little bit. And they have to be stable enough to say, ‘Okay, this was the call but we’re going to change call.’ I think our players have done a great job with that, and they understand the ‘why’ behind when we do change things, which helps them with that, but they have been an awesome group to work with. We’ve thrown a lot at them, and they have absorbed it all and executed at a very high level.
Q. I wanted to ask you, Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni mentioned his experience going against QB Gardner Minshew the last couple of years. I wanted to know what it was like for you as a defensive coach game planning for him the last few years? (EJ Smith)
JONATHAN GANNON: He presents a certain set of challenges when you’re doing against him for sure. He’s mobile. He’s accurate. He’s a really good athlete. So, we always had to be aware of his skill set that’s a little bit different than other quarterbacks. Each quarterback has a different skill set and you just have to be aware of the challenges, who you are facing and what each guy presents. I always thought pretty highly of him.
Q. I assume you’ve already begun looking ahead to Week 1. What stands out about Atlanta’s offense and how do you prepare for a guy like Falcons TE Kyle Pitts, who obviously is a very talented kid, but you don’t have any pro tape on him? (Jimmy Kempski)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, the first part of that question, [Falcons Head Coach] Arthur Smith and I, we go back. We were on the same staff for a couple years in Tennessee and their offensive coordinator as well, [Falcons Offensive Coordinator] Dave Ragone was on that staff. I actually went to high school and college with Dave Ragone, who is their offensive coordinator. But they are smart. They are smart. They do a lot of good things and they play to their players strengths and Arthur does a good job of keeping the quarterback out of trouble and he’s not going to ask his players to do something that is putting them in bad spots. That presents a challenge because it makes you hard to defend when you do that.
With [Kyle] Pitts, we watched all that college tape on all those DBs coming out and he was a guy that was winning consistently versus all the DBs I was watching, and he jumped off the tape, and I was like, ‘Who is this guy.’ It’s going to be a challenge for us to figure out, especially in Week 1, how they are going to deploy them, what they are going to do with them and what it’s going to look like. We haven’t really started game planning for them right now, but just starting to watch some tape and having gone against Arthur a couple years there when I was in Indy and he was in Tennessee, we’ll have a good plan.
Q. What’s your relationship been like with S Rodney McLeod so far and in terms of getting feedback from players, how long before he’s on the field will you get to sort of realize small little tweaks you’ll have to make with the defense based on what he prefers? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, I have a great relationship with Rodney. He’s been a joy to be around like a lot of our vets. He’s played at a very high level for a long time, and the timetable on that, obviously I’ll let Nick and Howie kind of handle that. But excited to get him back into the mix and I think his skill set, he’s going to mesh right in with all those other safeties we feel really good about. So, it will be good to get him back but until then we really good about the guys that are playing.
Q. Is there a correlation between not showing your cards in the preseason games and your rushing defense numbers? (Geoff Mosher)
JONATHAN GANNON: I don’t know if I’d say that because we’ve played some of our staples in preseason. When a team knows you’re only playing a couple calls, I think that gives them the upper hand. But every day we’re trying to get one percent better and that involves playing blocks better, tackling better, inserting in the run game better. So excited to get moving forward and actually game plan and run our stuff versus Atlanta Week 1.