The Eagles were back on Thursday for Day 2 of training camp and we had a chance to hear from Jonathan Gannon after practice. The defensive coordinator spoke about the benefits to having a physical practice, the emphasis they’re placing on takeaways, and the importance of having guys who can play multiple positions.
Here’s what he had to say:
On getting physical in camp
Gannon was asked about the level of physicality seen through the first two days of camp, and he noted that it wasn’t exactly the plan, but that’s just how they’re going to play.
“It’s actually awesome because we obviously have an offensive head coach, and believes in it. So, a lot of people out there that are offensive head coaches, they don’t want to see that, and Nick [Sirianni] believes that’s the best thing for the team — the offense and the defense. So, he allows us to do that. Now we have to clean it up because we don’t want guys on the ground at times, but we on defense, we’re going to play with a stinger, and I’m not going to take that stinger away.”
On creating turnovers
It was pointed out that the defense has forced some fumbles early in training camp and Gannon talked about how they have a very defined language with how they talk about takeaways.
“We know the value of the ball, and we put a high importance on it. So, we’re going to coach that up. Like I said, we have a very defined language with how we coach that, and that should be part of our DNA — which is the HITS Principle, which is the “T” in takeaways.”
On the defensive line formation
The DC said that they’re going through a bunch of looks for the defensive line, and they consider the d-line a strength and want to put the group in the best position to make a bunch of plays. Gannon noted that a lot of the lineman have unique skillsets and they’re going to try and capitalize on those skillsets with how they align people.
“We like guys that can play multiple positions, because we feel it’s hard on the offense. So, we don’t want to just line up and they know where we’re going to line up, we’re gonna change.”
He acknowledged that it’s only Day 2, so they have a lot more to figure out in terms of where each guy would best be positioned.
Gannon talked about having so many guys return on the defensive line is a big advantage for the team, and the leadership in that room is key. The experience that a lot of those guys have is invaluable to the younger players, who are open books.
When asked about Josh Sweat taking first team reps on Day 1, Gannon said that he sees both Sweat and Derek Barnett as starters and the personnel is going to switch up and rotate each period and each day. He doesn’t so much consider it a competition between the two, just a group of guys out there trying to get better.
Gannon was asked about Milton Williams and acknowledged that he has the intelligence and ability to play multiple positions along the defensive line.
On LB Davion Taylor
“He’s had a couple good days, he looks a lot more comfortable to me right now, just in what he’s doing. Nick’s done a really good job with him of making him understand the why behind we do things, and ‘Hey, this is his specific skillset, and we’re gonna let him roll.’ We’re excited about the entire linebacker group. D.T. in particular has gotten some snaps — some really good, quality snaps — which is good because, like all our guys, reps are gold out there right now.”
As far as the linebacker position goes, they are still working to define each role, and tailor those to the skillsets of the players they have on the roster.
- Gannon said that it was great to add Steven Nelson to the secondary and get some more veteran experience in the group. They expect he’ll be in some man-to-man coverage during the season, but also plan to change things up each week based on their opponent.
- With an emphasis on liking guys to play multiple positions, Gannon pointed out that how they train players depends on the guy and the position. Some players they might rotate in and out, and others they might try and focus on one until they are really proficient, and then work on others. But, players being able to play multiple positions is huge, because it builds depth on game day.