Q. How disappointing was the way they ran the ball, especially early? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: It was disappointing. More so than that, I think just we didn’t do enough to put — on our side of the ball — to put our team in a position to be competitive and win the game. When you do that, you feel bad.
We got a lot of adjustments to make, and we’ve got to get better in a hurry because we’ve got a good team coming in here on Sunday.
And the good thing is, though, from when they got back in the building today, I guess, the attitude and the demeanor of our team was good. There was no finger pointing. It was, ‘Hey, what do we got to do to get better so we can put ourselves in position to win a game?’
So, it was good to get back on the grass in the walk-through and we got practice coming up here, but good to get back in the saddle and get going again.
Q. On the Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb 44-yard pass, was that they just drummed up a play to beat that zone or was there an assignment that was bust? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: No, there was no assignment bust. The bust was on me. That call is not specific for that play. It was a good scheme. Nobody busted the coverage. I wish I had that one back because I put our guys in a tough spot with what that coverage entails, so that one is really on me.
Q. How about the Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz touchdown? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: That one is on me, too, honestly, because we started to make some adjustments later — the first one or the second one?
Q. The one on the right side where he got — the first one. (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, the first one. We were in a coverage that that was a pretty good schemed up play for that coverage. I wish we would have played it a little bit better top down and make them check the ball down to the back.
But that happens through the course of a game where you get some certain routes that are unscouted or that one had — particularly was actually scouted, and depending on what coverage you’re in, you have to know how to play those tougher routes.
So just really from an entire back seven standpoint, just put a little more air in that.
Q. To the naked eye, most of the damage in the running game was between the tackles, but when you typically have an edge player like DE Brandon Graham who can set the edge, was that a factor? Do you think you guys handled his absence well? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: I do. When we’re playing some of the looks that some of those runs pop through there, you are a little bit light in the box at times. I thought they kind of attacked us a pretty good way for what we were trying to do to take away some of the things that we were trying to take away, which we got accomplished, but then they got to their — kind of their second level of how to attack us.
So, moving forward, we talked about it as a staff, what can we do to help our guys and put them in a little bit better position moving forward when teams are doing that, and we came up with some pretty good ways, not that we didn’t have ways to do that, but to get to those adjustments a little bit quicker.
Q. It’s the second week in a row you’re seeing a team directly after they saw the Chargers. I know you and Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley are different philosophy-wise and personnel-wise, but seeing what he did, is it a template for you? Is it constructive in any way? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Not really, because we have different players. It’s a good question. When you look at a team, when you’re preparing for a team, you always kind of look, ‘Well, who played them good, who didn’t play them good, why?’
But then ultimately, it’s about the coaches, myself and the coaches, putting our guys in the best position possible for what our guys can do.
You never really try to copy a game plan. I’ve never really done that. You do maybe see some things that you’re like, ‘Oh, this is how they kind of did this or this is how they did this and this is what slowed some people down, or we want to stay out of this because look how they attack these particular concepts.’
But it’s not really about the scheme for other people. It’s about what our players can do and how we can put them in position to be successful.
Q. What’s your assessment of the linebackers, and where would you like to see them improve the most? (Mike Kaye)
JONATHAN GANNON: I think they’re playing good right now as a collective whole. They’re doing extremely well in the passing game. You’d like to not miss a bunch of tackles, but missed tackles happen in the NFL.
I think that, like as a collective whole, they’re doing what we ask them to do. They’re finishing on the football, they’re punching at it. They’ve been in some passing windows. They’re running the defense.
As far as the communication with the front and the back end, we put a lot on their plate and they’re handling it well.
I think you guys will continue to see as we get going the first month to me is kind of about figuring out, all right, what can our guys do, how much can we have on their plate, and we’ll start to — as far as when we game plan, see where the production can start coming a little bit more, from everybody.
Q. How difficult is that when you’re about to play four straight offenses that are in the top 10, pretty successful offenses, as opposed to maybe middle of the pack? (Mike Kaye)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, well, it’s difficult every week, honestly. That last one — everybody we’ve played so far has been good. That’s kind of how it is every week. I think what’s interesting about the NFL is you have these successful high-powered offenses that all play very differently, and so you have to adjust your people and what we’re doing to defend that particular opponent, which looks different at times.
We’ll continue to do that, and it’s good, because our guys can handle it and they’re emotionally stable. We go in and we say, ‘We want to do it like this this week because of this; okay, yeah, cool,’ because we understand the why.
Q. In some of your 3-4 looks when Brandon Graham was healthy, he was sliding into I guess, whatever, that 5 technique role that you have. Are DE Ryan Kerrigan and DE Josh Sweat and DE Tarron Jackson, have they been asked to do that, as well? Is that something they can do? Is that playing them away from their strengths? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, I mean, certain guys can play multiple spots. We’ve trained our guys to play different spots. You saw some different guys in there at that technique that you’re talking about, and you’ll continue to see as we go multiple guys play that spot, with whoever is out there, with the rotations and the packages, and certain guys have to kick down inside, certain guys have to stand up and play outside.
I think they’re doing a good job with the guys at the times where they’re in those spots, they’re doing a good job of what we’re asking that position to do.
Q. On your schedule, I don’t know if you noticed this or not, curious if you have, but you play every great tight end in the league this year. What specifically stands out in terms of what makes Chiefs TE Travis Kelce a great player? (Jimmy Kempski)
JONATHAN GANNON: He knows how to get open. He has a big catch radius. He’s really good run after the catch, and he’s smart. And he’s got a quarterback that he’s on the same page with. When you’re defending a guy like that, you see a lot of times when we’re looking at the tape and it’s named a certain route concept, and you look at it and you’re like, ‘No, that’s not that concept.’ Well, it actually is, but then he’s adjusting his route off the coverage.
So it makes it difficult to say, ‘Well, he’s supposed to do this, but because he saw this guy sitting over here, he sat it down and didn’t run across the field. He sat it down right over the ball at 15 yards; like how are we going to play that?’
It’s a challenge playing this crew this week because he’s on this — when you do that, the quarterback is expecting you to be over here, but now all of a sudden, you’re not over there. He’s on the same page. [Chiefs QB Patrick] Mahomes is on the same page with him.
So just his ability to really get open, catch the ball, win one-on-one at a pretty high level. And then his run after catch. You see he hurts defenses with his run after the catch, so we’re going to have to have a plan for him, and we will.
Q. The process during games as you adjust series to series, how does that work? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: We kind of say, all right, well — and that’s kind of set up through the week. Here is the first couple series how we think it’s going to go; what adjustments do we make. If we’re playing good, do we stay with it or do we get to this next counter punch.
But as the game goes, the ebb and flow of the game, ‘Alright, well they just went right down the field and scored. What do we need to get to? What do we need to do? How do I need to call it differently? Who’s struggling out there? Are we stopping the run? Is the ball going over our heads?’
So that all plays into when we come off talking to our players first, and then looking at the plan, and with the coaches on the headsets saying, ‘Alright, let’s get to this,’ or ‘Hey, let’s keep doing what we’re doing. We’ve just got to play the techniques a little bit better.’ Or this one route was open. Well, get with the guy that, ‘Hey, you’ve got to play this this way.’
So those adjustments go on during the series, in between series, at halftime, from quarter to quarter, series to series. It’s an ever-evolving constant adjustment period as far as communication with our guys and with the coaches.
Q. What makes Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes so difficult to defend? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: He’s extremely accurate. What I really think is when you look at their offense, they make you cover horizontally and vertically, and they use space extremely well to me. And he can make all those throws, and then he can make certain throws that you’re going to say, ‘Man, he shouldn’t be able to throw the ball like that to that spot accurately,’ and he can.
I mean, he’s really — to me, I don’t know what a generational quarterback is, but whatever that is, he probably is that.
What I think they do a really good job of is they make you defend — everyone has heard, ‘every blade of grass.’ They really do. We have to understand that, and we have to do a good job of minimizing some of those explosive plays when he gets off schedule.
When he starts moving around, and their verse, their guys do a good job of knowing how to get open, what spots to find, and he can be running this way on the numbers and throw it back over here where typically you’d be like, ‘He’s never going to throw it over there.’ So, it’s going to be a big challenge for us.
Q. As a follow-up to that, the last time you saw him and this offense in person, you guys held them to 13 points. What worked that night in Indy? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Well, one, they didn’t have [Chiefs WR] Tyreek [Hill]. That helped. We played pretty good team defense and we took the ball away a couple times, and it was a good team effort. But that by no way is a blueprint. This is a way different team, and they’re a way different team at this point.
The teams that hang with them, they execute at a very high level, and they take the ball away. Typically, you steal a couple possessions, the teams that stay in it with them. You look at the time of possession, and with that — with us, that’s just not talking about the offense. With us, they don’t have a lot of 3rd downs because they convert 1st downs on 1st and 2nd down, and when they do get to 3rd down, they convert at a pretty high clip.
We’re going to have to get them to 3rd down and 1, and then play pretty good 3rd down defense to get off the field, so we’re not on the field for eight-plus minutes at a time. So, to get our offense back on the field.
Q. What makes Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill so special? You just mentioned him. Obviously, there are fast guys all over this league, but it seems on the field he’s got that extra – (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, when he first came into the league, Emmitt Thomas was the DB coach in Kansas City, and DB coaches you always ask, ‘Who’s the hardest guy to defend? Who’s the top 5 guys,’ or this or that. I remember Emmitt telling me, and he’s seen everybody under the sun, and he called him Little Man. He said, ‘Little Man is special, man. He really is.’
What you see on tape is kind of like [Travis] Kelce, he’s just in different ways. He wins one-on-one. He can get open at a high level through zones or versus man coverage. He’s really good with the ball in his hands. He makes some catches that you’re like, ‘Man, that ball was a little underthrown or a little overthrown or behind him.’ He adjusts to the ball in the air. He’s got elite ball skills to me. Elite ball skills with elite speed, it’s a tough cover. Our guys are ready for the challenge, and we’ll have a good plan for them.
Q. You talked about learning your players, LB Patrick Johnson and DT Milton Williams played a fair number of snaps. What have you learned in these three games about those two rookies? (Ed Kracz)
JONATHAN GANNON: They’re both improving. If you look at both of those guys through three games, I actually just talked to Pat about that, they’re all in — both of those guys are improving weekly, and that’s what you want to see from everybody, not just the rookies, everybody. It’s like — and that really — it’s not just production based all the time. Everyone wants to talk about production. It’s, ‘Well, this guy didn’t have a lot of tackles,’ but did you do your job, and did you play winning football, and both of those guys are doing their job and playing winning football for what we’re asking them to do.
The challenge to all our guys is let’s just keep getting a little bit better every week, every week. And with doing that, hopefully we keep our — give ourselves on our side, give our team a chance to win the game, which I think we’ve done two out of the three times. Yes, two days ago we did not do that, so that’s kind of the challenge to everybody. But how they play blocks, how they finish on the ball, what spots they’re in, are they in the correct position, are they aligned right, do they have their eyes right, all of that, both Milton and Pat are doing a good job of improving weekly.