Q. What are some of the differences you see from the Lions last year and as you prepare for them week 1? (Eliot Shorr-Parks)
JONATHAN GANNON: Completely different football team. I feel like the last half of the year they kind of came into their own with their identity and how they wanted to play offense, and [it’s going to be a] big-time challenge for us.
They have a really good O-line, quarterback is a good player, and they have some skill guys. We have it cut out for us. We have to play good football to give our team a chance to win.
Q. How does S C.J. Gardner-Johnson change the defense? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Not much. It was good to add him to the unit, to that entire room, and really like his skill set and the player that he is. Looking forward to seeing him mesh with our defense and hopefully make some plays for us.
Q. How do you go about acclimating S C.J. Gardner-Johnson to the defense and getting him ready? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: Good question. Like we talked about, everybody is a little bit different with that. D.K. [Assistant Defensive Backs Coach D.K. McDonald] and D-Will [Defensive Passing Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs Dennard Wilson] are obviously spending a little more time with him to try to get him caught up.
But he’s very smart. He’s intelligent. His skill set fits to what we want to do, and when he’s ready to play, he’ll play.
Q. When it comes to self-improvement from year one to year two, what was the primary focus for you? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: For me, a lot of things. It would take us too long to go over.
But just trusting the players a little bit more and say, ‘Hey, this is how we’re going to do things and this is the job description. It’s very clear: here’s the standard that we want to do.’
From my standpoint, it’s being comfortable with our guys and letting them go play fast.
Q. What was it about S C.J. Gardner-Johnson that made you think that he could play the safety? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Just looking at his tape, the skill set that he brings, he basically played a lot in the slot, but he has played safety before.
We’ve talked about a modern-day safety is doing it all, coverage ability, being able to play in the box, having range, playing post closed, post open, covering, tackling, communicating, being smart.
I feel like he’s going to integrate well into the defense.
Q. Lions TE T.J. Hockenson is back for Detroit this year. He had a pretty good game against you last year, and I guess a lot of tight ends did. Do you feel like you shored up that guarding or defending tight ends in space this year with the new linebackers? (Ed Kracz)
JONATHAN GANNON: A lot of that is predicated on call, where certain times people that are on him have help and certain times when people are on him, they don’t have help.
I think it’s just executing the call when guys know when they’re matched up on him how to defend him, where to be strong, where they’re strong, and use their help accordingly.
Q. You talk so much about the secondary, how much of it is trust and communication. You have just one starting D-back back from last year, so there are a lot of new pieces. They didn’t play together a lot in the preseason games. Is that going to be a process until they get to the point they need to be at? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Good question. That typically takes some time, but the NFL there’s not a lot of time.
I feel good about where that room is at. When you add new pieces, but they can think and process and they’re smart, once they understand the why, then they just need some time on task to playing with each other.
But going through camp, OTAs and camp, I like where that room is at.
And then the addition of Chauncey [S C.J. Gardner-Johnson], they’re getting him caught up to speed, as well, and I think it’ll be pretty seamless.
Q. I know you mentioned Defensive Passing Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach Dennard Wilson and Assistant Defensive Backs Coach D.K. McDonald, but are you more discerning at that position because it’s your background? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: I’m discerning at all of them, but I think we have excellent coaches here, and I trust those guys fully to get done what we need to get done with all the players.
When I have to interject a little bit, I do. That is my baby. But I feel really comfortable about not touching that room because of the two coaches that we have.
Q. As far as S C.J. Gardner-Johnson integrating into the defense, learning the new defense, how quickly can he learn something like this coming from a totally different system in such a short amount of time? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: It’s a little bit of a case-by-case basis, but it’s just like with all of our new guys. These guys have all played football before. It’s not rocket science. You hear me say that a lot.
Really the newest thing for those guys is just the verbiage. Like, ‘Hey, you’ve played this a million times, but this is the verbiage that we use, this is the calls you have to make, this is your body positioning, where you need to be.’
It’s just really from a verbiage standpoint, communication standpoint within the scheme and the defense, and then understanding how he fits into all the calls.
Q. Earlier you mentioned when S C.J. Gardner-Johnson is ready, he’ll play. Is there a chance he’s not ready, and is there a chance you’ll have to limit his role based on a certain amount of time? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: We’ll just see how the week goes. That’s like with all our players. We just kind of figure out as the week goes on this guy is ready to play or this guy is not, and we kind of go from there.
But that’s kind of a daily check-in for all of our guys, for all of us to say, ‘Hey, let’s put him in,’ or, ‘Let’s hold him.’
Q. It’s a little different with him, though, right? Do you have benchmarks he has to hit to know those things? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, execution benchmarks in practice. Like I said, when he’s ready to play, we’ll put him in there.
Q. In your experience, I’m sure you’ve had other players you’ve had to ramp up pretty quickly. Is there sort of a limit to how much you can teach somebody in a 10-day span? I know you say each player is different, but you can’t have everything. (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: That’s right. You’re right. I think from the standpoint of once he gets something, like any player, once he gets a concept and gets a call, then you move on and you see there will always be sticking points of, well, there’s a lot of adjustments in this call. Maybe we steer clear of that one. Or, ‘Hey, we know we’re going to need this call, we have to learn this one.’
Certain calls are a little bit easier than other ones, and it’s just — your kind of instincts of being a coach, hey, he’s ready for this or he isn’t ready for this, and then you make the decision and go.
Q. What’s your comfort level with S K’Von Wallace, with CB Avonte Maddox if he’s got to play some safety, with S Reed Blankenship if those guys need to play some snaps? (Reuben Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: Very comfortable with that whole room, excited about that room, and anybody that’s up on game day, I feel good about putting in the game.
Q. That said, with Anthony Harris, what happened there, and how tough is that to lose a pro’s pro this late? (Ed Kracz)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, you guys know I love Anthony and he’s done great job for us and helped us a lot last year, but when we had the chance to add Chauncey [C.J. Gardner-Johnson], that’s what we decided to do. That kind of went into the decision of letting him go.
I wish Anthony the best, but feel really good about that room.
Q. What did you think about how DT Fletcher Cox approached this off-season after getting cut and having returned? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: The only thing I know about Fletch is he comes in here and works and he’s the standard of effort and how to practice and play. That’s why he’s one of our captains.
I love where Fletch’s game is at right now, and he’s going to be a huge part of this defense.
Q. What are you most curious to learn about your defense getting to see them play? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: Just like we talked about, you’re excited for week 1. They all count the same. All 17 games count the same, but I always tell guys week 1, you haven’t played in a while when it counts.
I’m excited to see us go into the game, and like the head coach [Head Coach Nick Sirianni] talks about, dog mentality and see us kind of make some plays, fly around, and when things aren’t going our way, how we respond.
That’s been a positive thing from our defense the entire training camp, and just excited to go see them play and have fun.
Q. What type of growth did you see from DT Jordan Davis and LB Nakobe Dean this summer? (Josh Tolentino)
JONATHAN GANNON: A lot, just like all our rookies. It’s a big-time learning curve for those guys, whether they played a similar way or didn’t play a similar way.
But the things that we identify with Jordan, ‘Hey, you have to get better at,’ he’s gotten better at. The same thing with all our new guys. Excited where they are, and like I said, if they’re up on game day, we feel comfortable with them going in there and executing everything that they need to execute to help us win.
Q. Are LB T.J. Edwards and LB Kyzir White the clear top two or will Nakobe Dean rotate in? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: I’m not going to get into who’s starting and all that, but there is a very specific role for all those guys in that room, and we feel good about those guys in their roles right now.
Q. You were asked earlier about going into year two as the coordinator; what have you noticed about Head Coach Nick Sirianni going into year two as a head coach? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: He’s a good football coach, man. I think he’s the epitome of whatever we do there are always reasons behind it, and you can appreciate that. Whether you like it or not, there is a reasoning that he has behind how we practice, decisions we make with the roster with him and [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman], for how he structures practice, how he wants us to play on defense.
There are reasons for all that, and I love the detail that he has when he has a thought or makes a decision that there’s always a why behind it and it’s very thought out.
Q. Trusting your players more, what does that look like? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: I think letting them play a little bit more, and not to say that we didn’t let them play last year, but I told those guys, we have to problem solve and you guys have to think on your feet and get me out of trouble when a call is not ideal. That’s what I think that our defense, the guys that we have right now have shown that through camp, and I just honestly trust the whole room a little bit better.
Part of that is being second year in the system. They’ve seen a lot of the things that we talked about last year not seeing. Now they’ve seen some of that and they can function on the move in between the whistles, which I’m really excited about.
Q. You talked about guys having different specific roles, and obviously you’re going to be playing different types of stuff. How much do you think through like the mechanics of in-game getting guys on and off the field and how much do you practice that? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: We practice it daily, and that’s a big discussion every week. When you play a lot of different guys and you’re rotating guys and you’re playing different packages, that’s always a thing that we talk about, like is this feasible, does it help our players, can I do it, is it comfortable for me and our players.
That’s always kind of a game-by-game case. Good question.
Q. What is one thing you would really like to see this defense better at than last season? (Les Bowen)
JONATHAN GANNON: Probably take the ball away a little bit more, affect the quarterback a little bit more, and be consistent, because you guys saw there are certain games where we played lights out and certain games where we didn’t. I would like us to always on the defensive side of the ball, my responsibility is to make sure that the defense and the coaches, to make sure the defense is giving our team a chance to win the game. Excited about that opportunity and challenge.