Q. The decision to have CB Darius Slay shadow Panthers WR DJ Moore, is that something you would have done no matter what even if Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey was still active or, you know, based upon what happened the previous week, or was it because of those reasons? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: When we look at how we want to try to defend people, we always look what we, have in our bucket, so to speak, to present the best matchups for our guys and for our opponents. So, that’s something that we’ve done a little bit the first couple of weeks and then this week you saw him almost exclusively travel with DJ, but that’s really game plan-specific. If we continue to do that or not continue to do that, it’s really just when we sit down and say, ‘All right, who do we have to defend and what are our best matchups with what we’re calling that week, does it make sense to do that?’
I thought Slay did an excellent job. He rose to the challenge. And like all our players, he is a guy that, ‘Whatever I can do to help the team, that’s what I’m going to do.’ So, it was a good response from him.
Q. You said game plan-specific. We saw some stunts with the defensive line and maybe different coverages. Are you able to grow more or have the defense evolve more? Is there more of a comfort level with everybody? (John Clark)
JONATHAN GANNON: No, I wouldn’t say a comfort level. The stuff we did in that game was basically first week of install of training camp. There is a little bit of – you guys probably saw a little bit of different multiplicity because ultimately it goes down to who we’re defending, what we thought was good for that week. So, we could look like that again or look like week one or week two. You don’t really know, and that’s, obviously, because of who you are playing every week changes. The players executed that stuff that we asked them to do and made a bunch of plays, which was good to see.
Q. Slay obviously likes that challenge of traveling with top receivers. How much has he vocalized that to you, and how much does that play into your decision when you are figuring it out? (Dave Zangaro)
JONATHAN GANNON: He is a premium corner. So, most of the premium corners in the league like that challenge because that shows – it’s their ability to show everyone that they are premium corners, when you can go shut out a top guy. But he also knows that if it’s not the right thing for us that week, then he will do what we ask of him. So he has been really good with that as far as saying, ‘Okay, well, I want to go versus this guy.’ ‘Yeah, but it’s not the best thing for everybody else, Slay.’ ‘Okay, I got it.’ ‘Hey, this week we want you to go with DJ.’ ‘Okay, got it.’ So, he has been awesome to be around.
Q. Speaking of that, I mean, when you look at the Buccaneers receivers, they got three top guys, in, you know, Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown, Buccaneers WR Mike Evans, and Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin. What are your thoughts on those guys, and how do you go about trying to defend them? (Martin Frank)
JONATHAN GANNON: They got a really good group. They got a really good group. You watch the tape. They make a bunch of plays, and they each – I always thought, from a receiver standpoint, if you have 11 personnel out there and you got three guys, they all have different skill sets, and that makes it a big-time challenge because how you have to defend each guy within each coverage, what we’re playing is different. And our guys have to grasp that and understand that, which we do because we have smart players.
So it’s going to be a big-time challenge because they got the best ever throwing it to them, too, and they got other weapons as well besides those three guys. So, I got a very high opinion of what they do down there, and it’s going to be a big-time challenge.
Q. With that said, though, you have previously said you aren’t a dime defense. How difficult is it to avoid putting extra DBs on the field when they have the firepower in the passing game that they do? (Mike Kaye)
JONATHAN GANNON: What do you mean how difficult?
Q. They can match up, they can put Buccaneers WR Scotty Miller out there and put other wide receivers. (Mike Kaye)
JONATHAN GANNON: This is one of the offenses that uses five wide receivers, four wide receivers, different groups. You got to see when those packages come on the field, what makes sense for the situation in the game. Is it first and second down? Is it third down? Is it red zone or two minute? Is it the end of the game they do some unique things? So, we’re going to have to use everything that we have in our tool bucket to defend them.
Q. What’s the life of a defensive coordinator like coming off a big win and then putting on the film and seeing Buccaneers QB Tom Brady and the Bucs in four days? (Zach Berman)
JONATHAN GANNON: Fun. Challenge. Obviously, they’re big-time, big-time, but so is every offense. Every offense that you play in the NFL, there is no let-down. There are good players all across each team. What’s funny is you start to look at games as you go, and each offense presents different challenges by who they have, how they play, what’s their MO of how they play team football or who is calling the plays. But you look and you start looking at games and things, and it’s like, ‘Okay, this team did a pretty good job against them. Well, what do they play? This team got throttled by them. What did they play?’ Then you look, and you are, like, ‘Man, these teams did the exact same thing, and they put up 45 versus them and 17 versus them. They played the exact same game plan. Why did that happen?’
Ultimately, it comes down to, again, like, – and I was thinking about last week with your question, Jeff, you know, the we don’t have a scheme. Let me clarify, you guys, what that really means to me is, like an offensive guy says, ‘Well, I’m a West Coast guy.’ Well, if you have Tom Brady, you’re not going to run a West Coast offense, right? I never really wanted – being on different defenses that I’ve been on, I never wanted to be labeled as, you know, a ‘Tampa 2 guy’ or a ‘Seattle 3 guy’ or a ‘pressure guy’ because, yeah, those things can be good and some of those defenses have been really good, some of those teams that are known for playing that style. But if it doesn’t match up with the people that you have in your building or if it doesn’t match up versus the people you are playing, good luck. So, the whole non-scheme thing, that’s really just saying, ‘Hey, each week we want to be able to adapt and adjust, putting our guys in a position to be able to make as many plays as possible with the offense that we are playing.’ So, that’s all kind of that was because I kind of flubbed up over that, and I have said right from the jump, like, ‘We don’t have a scheme.’ Well, obviously, we have a scheme, but the point of that is – and that’s where it’s awesome to be around the guys that we have – is we play differently week to week. Sometimes it might not look drastically different, but what’s going on pre-snap and post-snap, it really is. And sometimes it’s really good. Our guys execute, and we put them in the right spot, and sometimes, obviously, we have to improve. Like a couple of weeks ago, we got to do a better job of putting them in better spots and executing better. Again, everyone kind of runs the same stuff. It’s who you have in your building and who you are defending that’s put our guys in the best position possible to make a bunch of plays.
Q. What’s your biggest challenge this week with only four days to prepare against a quarterback that’s pretty much seen you? (John McMullen)
JONATHAN GANNON: We told our guys. You know, I said I wanted to do a bunch of stuff on Monday. We don’t have any full speed reps, so throw that out the window. Like, ‘This would be great, you know, this new coverage.’ Well, how are we going to practice it? Really, ultimately, the challenge for us is really being mentally fresh and, as coaches, you can help them with that by not having a lot on their plate because we want them to be physically fresh. I talked to them yesterday about if you are mentally fatigued, your physical fatigue will show up quick. It was just we got to maximize our meeting time, our walk-through time. Today is, like, first, second, third down, two minute, red zone. That’s a big-time day when you start looking at you’re slamming three days together into one, but they have to do the same thing as well.
So, the challenge that we put forth to our guys is, ‘You got to grasp the game plan, you got to watch a little more tape. Your process this week is different. So is mine.’ I told our guys. I said, ‘I got to catch up on some tape. I haven’t watched as much tape as it was yesterday than I have normally like at this point in the week.’ So, all of our process had to change a little bit, but we’re ready for the challenge, and we’re going to be ready.
Q. Does LB Davion Taylor have three down abilities? We saw more of him this past week, does he have that ability? (Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, he is doing a good job. His playing time is going up, and that goes into he did a really good job in training camp, and then he got hurt, and we want to keep trying to maximize his skill set and get him in the game as much as we can in certain packages, when it fits for him and us. Pleased with him. He did a really good job.
Q. What has changed the last two weeks with LB Genard Avery getting all the same reps at that SAM spot instead of rotating? (Bo Wulf)
JONATHAN GANNON: Just a little matchup-driven, I would say. With the fronts that we’ve been in in the last two weeks, that particular front, his skill set allows him to be pretty successful in that, but [LB Patrick Johnson] will continue to play. Pat will continue to play.
Q. You said that you broke down the season in four game subsets. That you look at it where quarters of the season and go from there. Now that we’re kind of into the second subset, what did you take from the first one? (Tim McManus)
JONATHAN GANNON: Good question. I’ll probably do that this weekend. Obviously, the short week, so it will be, what, a five-game subset. Six-game. I take from it that we’ve done some good things, but we’ve been a little like this [motions up and down], so to me – it’s what our head coach talks about, you really want to be doing that [motions upward]. That’s what we’re striving to get to, is improve daily and not have these big, the highs and the lows. And that happens in the course of an NFL season. Everybody goes through it. It’s just that you would like to be continually to ascend and get a little bit better every day, coaches and players, and you really are playing your best ball when it – not that these games don’t matter, but when you are in the hunt and to get in the dance, you know? So, you want to be peaking at the right time. But to me, with our guys in a new year one, is let’s just continually get improved a little bit better from the coaches to the players and give ourselves a chance to win games.