Plus, the DC talks about how they plan to address the team’s run defense.
Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon spoke to reporters on Tuesday and opened up about how they weren’t a dime package team, how they don’t really have a specific scheme they stick to, and what they have to do to better against the run on first and second down. Gannon also explained why he isn’t worried about Fletcher Cox’s production through four weeks of the season.
Here’s what the DC had to say:
On the Eagles not being a dime team
Gannon was asked about his biggest play calling regret from the Chiefs loss and he mentioned the red zone call with Tyreek Hill and linebacker Eric Wilson. He admitted that he put Wilson in a tough spot and it wasn’t a very good matchup, so he’d like to have that call back.
The DC was then asked why they haven’t done much dime this year, and he admitted that they’re not really a dime team right now. He noted that they like to play out of four down and two linebackers — although, he didn’t want to get too specific with regard to scheme.
“I just don’t believe in it right now with who we are. I like to play out of four down and two linebackers.
We feel like that’s kind of the best way with second down and drop back and defending — who we’ve defended up until this point. On third down, as well, to play with two linebackers in a game.”
Later, Gannon further explained the play with Hill and Wilson, and noted that he’s not in a position to call a time out, even if they know they’re getting caught by the offense. They do have checks going into the game plan.
“That’s a constant — we just met all this morning about Carolina. It’s, like, ‘All right, well, with these certain calls, who has the hard duty, where’s the soft spot, where should the ball go? Boy, this call is really good against this and this, but if they give us this, it’s not great. And that guy has a tough matchup for that down.’
From that, it’s the standpoint of, ‘All right, guys, here’s the call, here’s who have the hot spots of the call, here’s what the call is for, and this is who has some hard duty.’ And they have to know when they have hard duty and how to do defend it.”
On the team’s defensive scheme
The DC was asked whether he has a certain level of patience with the team learning an entirely new defensive scheme, but Gannon pointed out that, “I don’t have a scheme.”
He went on to say that their scheme should be to put the 11 players on the field in the best position to succeed. Gannon then admitted he has to do a better job of that because it’s not showing up, and whether he or the other coaches like something, if the players can’t execute it or it’s not the best thing for their skillset, then they throw it away.
Gannon said that he doesn’t see a lot of guys making the same mistake over and over again, and thinks they can continue to improve. He noted that if he’s growing impatient, it’s with himself, and not getting the guys in better positions to win games. The coaches don’t get irritated with the players, but rather look inward for how they turn things around.
“And the patience for me is wearing thin, ‘Hey, let’s get competitive. Let’s get in a game.’ Because right now, we haven’t been in a game — I know we were in that game, but from a defensive standpoint, like, we got to keep the points down, keep the yards down, get off the field to give our team a chance to win.
So, where I’m most non-cool, calm, and collected right now is not with the players, it’s with myself.”
On the run defense
Gannon reiterated the points that head coach Nick Sirianni turns to (ad nauseum) and that everything first starts with the coaching. When they return to the facility on the Monday after a game, they look critically at what they can do to put players in better positions to win games.
“I think we’re all pissed off about the last two games. We haven’t played great on defense. That’s evident. And that starts with me and starts with the coaches.
So it always comes down to self-evaluation, ‘Hey, what can we do to help our players? What did we say the three things are to win this game? Did we get those three things done?’
And the last two weeks, we have not done that. So, you look at — if we get these three things done, are we putting ourselves in a position to win the game? You look at those first. The three things we said, are they the right things?
Then from there, you look at execution and what we’re asking our players to do and how can we help them and serve them better to put them in better spots. And that starts with me, to the coaches, right down to the players.”
He later talked a bit about stopping big runs on first down, and Gannon said it goes a little bit into schematics, and players, and coaches. He explained they have alignment assignment, key technique has to be better on some of those downs, as well. The DC said it’s always going to come down to striking blocks, tackling, getting off blocks, and it taking all 11 players on the field executing at a high level.
“So, when you look at run defense, like, we have to be in the right spot and we have to win individual matchups.”
On Fletcher Cox’s production
Sirianni mentioned on Monday that it’s up to the coaches to find ways to let their play makers make plays, and Gannon noted that they always talk about ways to get their best players going, starting with first and second down. The DC said that Cox is going a good job right now, and teams do things different things than what they see on tape knowing that the Eagles’ veteran will be on the field.
“And, again, the production — guys, we’re four weeks through, the production will come. I’m not worried about the production from Fletch.”
Gannon later talked about how Cox played a lot of three technique against the Chiefs, something he’s done more of in his career, but that that still like to move him around. He noted that Cox’s skill set is on that makes it a hard matchup for lineman to block him, so that’s someone they use in different spots for matchup-drive reasons.