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Jonathan Gannon clarifies comment about the Eagles’ defense not having a scheme

The defensive coordinator also talked about Darius Slay’s role in coverage, and what he expects from the Bucs offense on Thursday.

NFL: OCT 10 Eagles at Panthers Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Eagles’ defensive coordinator spoke to reporters on Tuesday and talked a bit about Darius Slay’s success shadowing DJ Moore on Sunday, what he expects to see from the Buccaneers offense, and also took some time to clarify his previous comments about not having a specific scheme.

Here’s what the DC had to say:


On Darius Slay playing more man on Sunday

Gannon noted that having Slay shadow DJ Moore was game-plan specific, and whether they have him do more of that this season will just depend on their opponent. He said that they evaluate the matchups they’ll face and determine what the best plan is for coverage.

“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.”

The DC was asked how vocal Slay has been about wanting the challenge of traveling with top receivers, and Gannon acknowledged that he’s a premium corner and most premium corners like that kind of challenge to prove that they’re a top player. But, Slay knows that it’s a game-by-game decision, and if that’s not the best move for a specific week, he’ll do whatever is asked of him.

On the Buccaneers offense

Gannon was asked about Tampa Bay’s three top receivers: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown.

“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.”

He went on to talk about how the Bucs have an offense that uses four and five wide receivers, and different groupings and packages, so they have to see what kind of defense makes sense when each group takes the field. Gannon noted that they also have to account for what down it is and what kind of defense makes sense for the situation.

When having to prepare for an offense led by QB Tom Brady, Gannon mentioned that as the season goes on, it’s helpful to see what other teams were able to do and which defenses had success, and why.

Clarifying his comments about not having 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.”

Other notables

  • Gannon said that LB Davion Taylor is doing a good job and his playing time will continue to increase. Taylor was doing a really good job in training camp, but then he got hurt, so now that he’s back they want to maximize his skill set and get him in the game as much as they can.
  • The DC noted that linebacker Genard Avery getting all the reps at the SAM spot is mostly matchup driven. With the fronts they’ve been in the past two weeks, his skill set allows him to be successful, but Patrick Johnson will continue to play in that role as well.