The Eagles defense continues to struggle to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, either allowing high completion percentages or allowing the ball to get out too fast for the defensive line to get adequate pressure. Jonathan Gannon spoke to reporters on Tuesday about what they can do to tighten things things, as well as his avoidance of press coverage, and his thoughts on Derek Barnett.
Here’s what the defensive coordinator had to say:
On consistently high QB completion percentages
More than five quarterbacks have completed over 80 percent of their passes against the Eagles through eight games this season. Gannon acknowledged that they have to get that percentage down, and it all starts with the coaches detailing out some things and changing some looks. He noted that rush and cover, cover and rush have to get a little bit better.
The DC said that it’s a fixable problem and he said it wasn’t alarming to him. They know what areas they need to improve, but they’ve been able to do that at times, they just need to do things more consistently.
“It really, though, again it starts with us setting it up a little bit better, how I call the game a little bit better at some certain spots where you can throw a wrench into what the quarterback is seeing or when they call certain plays, you’d like to be in a couple better calls here or there.
But, ultimately, it’s about all of us just improving and being a little more consistent.”
Gannon later talked about in-game adjustments when they see the quarterback getting the ball out quicker than they expect, including adjusting the coverages. He said the Chargers mixed in a little more quick game that they expected because of the defensive line, but they need to have a couple more calls in their back pocket to combat that QB passing speed.
“So, the rush and cover, cover and rush, that’s all 11 guys. So, when the D-line is not getting there, there’s reasons for that in the backend. When the back end is not covering great, there’s reasons for that in the front end. It all marries together.
He later talked about why QBs have put such an emphasis on getting the ball out quickly against the Eagles defense, and Gannon noted the personnel they have up front and teams being very aware that they can rush. Additionally, because they are set up to take away some of their opponents explosive plays, they are quicker to get the ball out of their hand if the look isn’t there pre-snap.
“There’s a blend of how much you can tilt the coverage and disguise and make it look really different on the quarterback pre- and post-snap with also getting your guys in position to get what they need to get done within the call.
And like everything, there’s a blend to that. When can we be really aggressive with how we’re aligning people and when we really can’t?”
On playing press coverage
Gannon was asked about his apprehension with playing press with man given Darius Slay and Steven Nelson’s experience.
“Yeah, we do play press a little bit. And there are certain spots that we would like to tighten up. And that comes down to me, calling it to get tighter.
But we feel good about those guys in the backend, to either play off or press, and some of that goes into the call. Some of that goes into the situation in the game.
So we just got to do a little bit better job, myself, of calling it a little bit better of when we need to get tight, get tight.”
On lack of sacks and blitzes
Gannon admitted that the Chargers caught a couple pressures into some runs on their last two drives of Sunday’s game, and looking back they should have sent some more blitzes when other things weren’t working. But, he pointed out that when you look back at the passing situations, they weren’t letting the defensive line hit the quarterback.
“So, you saw, like, double chips. You saw some six, seven-man protections. So, typically when you see that as a defense, you devote more to coverage. You put more in coverage knowing that pressures aren’t going to get home and you’re kind of leaving your cover guys out to dry.
I think, though, I can set it up a little bit better when teams are doing that, just be a little more creative how we are aligning our pieces and what we are doing to generate more pressure, so teams can’t say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do so you have to play a certain way.’”
As for Javon Hargrave getting six sacks early in the season, but none in the past few weeks, Gannon said that the DT is playing just as well as he was and that teams are playing him a little bit differently. Against the Chargers, Gannon pointed out the running back chipped his way out, and they were chipping the inside guys, and changing the chips.Still, Hargrave had a couple pressures despite the sack production not being there.
On T.J. Edwards
“I think from a standpoint of being in the right spot, playing in the run game, running the defense, he’s doing a really good job. He’s playing winning football for us.
You see how physical he is inside. There were a couple times where they ran ISO plays or lead plays and he took on the fullback, knocked him back, and made the tackle.
He’s doing a good job as far as what I look for in the Mike, is running the show, being in the right spot and playing winning football in the run and pass game, and he is doing that.”
On Derek Barnett’s penalties
“He’s doing a good job. He’s improved that part of his game, I think. He’s playing, I would say, more disciplined with what we’re asking him to do with the penalties thing.
I’m very happy with Derek [Barnett]. No one’s going to be harder on him than himself. But it’s just to lock in and make sure that we don’t have pre-snap penalties and keep doing what he’s doing, because he’s doing a good job in the run and pass game.”