Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen spoke to reporters on Wednesday. From Gannon we heard about the defense’s identity, some thoughts on individual players, and his feelings on some of the penalties from Week 2. Steichen talked a bit about Jalen Hurts, the effort to get the ball to different playmakers, and what he sees from Dallas’ rookie linebacker.
Here’s what they had to say:
DC Jonathan Gannon
On their defensive identity
“It depends on the game plan. So, you know, that’s – whether you want to pressure or you don’t want to pressure, or how you want to play, set up the game plan, that’s very specific to who we’re playing. And if you look, these last two weeks, some of the concepts are similar and then some of the concepts were drastically different, and the reason behind that is those offenses that we were defending were different. Just like Dallas is a completely different offense than Atlanta and San Francisco.
And that’s how it will be typically every week. So, it’s, ‘Okay, well, here’s what we have in our bucket and let’s try to get our players in the best position possible to play winning football for our team.’ So, that won’t really change. So if we decide to pressure a little bit more whatever week, that’s probably because we think that this is good versus that team. If we don’t – we don’t pressure once, that’s how we decide we want to – that’s how we want to play that week.”
Gannon also talked about the emphasis they place on limiting explosive plays, and while it might be frustrating for some to see the defense give up six and eight yards plays, some of those results are actually wins for them because they took away the deep ball option. He noted that the coaches and players have a very clear understanding of what’s acceptable with certain coverages, so it’s more about the players executing what is called.
The DC was asked about the lack of turnovers, and he said that the guys are getting more hands on the ball, so they just have to double down with what they’re doing, tighten up some of their assignments and key techniques, and the takeaways will come. He isn’t concerned with that through the first two games, and also admits it falls on him as well to put guys in the right position to make plays.
On specific players
Gannon talked about how they’ve been talking to guys about certain packages they have and how they are looking to accentuate each players skill set. But, playing time and snap counts are also dictated by how the game is unfolding and adjustments they have to make.
This was the case for Josh Sweat only taking 40 percent of defensive snaps on Sunday against the 49ers. Gannon said that Sweat plays the run extremely well and can rush — adding that he’s also a “great dude” — so he’ll continue to play good football for them, as they need him to.
As for Milton Williams playing predominantly inside despite reps at defensive end during camp, Gannon said that they wanted to get him experience in both spots and that he’ll be someone they move around and use in different packages. Williams might see his playing time increase as he continues to improve.
The DC also talked a bit about Genard Avery as the SAM linebacker.
“How he plays is what we’re looking for. He’s a good run defender, he can set a violent edge, he plays extremely hard and he’s capable of doing other things, as well, within the scheme of the defense, whether that be to rush the passer or drop in coverage.”
On the Derek Barnett and K’Von Wallace penalties
“Yeah, some of those penalties, unfortunate. You know, our guys have a very clear picture of what we’re looking for as a defense and that goes into the being smart. And we addressed that with our entire defense. We don’t want to make those mistakes over and over in the heat of the battle. We do understand at times that does happen. But we just got to continue to learn from that and get better.
Then there’s penalties that happen on the defensive side of the ball that are ‘Bang-bang,’ so to speak. We don’t really talk about, ‘Is this a bad call, is this a good call?’ You move on and you play. I think that – especially for myself, that one play that happened with K’von, ‘Okay, what’s the down and distance, what’s the personnel in the game?’”
OC Shane Steichen
On Jalen Hurts’ performance
Steichen was asked about the stats showing Hurts avoiding throws to the middle of the field, and he noted that it’s mostly based on what the defense is giving them. If they’re giving them opportunities on the outside, they’re going to take it, and if they gets chances over the middle, that’s where the ball will go.
He also later admitted that they’ll have to adapt once the league has more film on Hurts as the season goes on.
“You got to be able to adapt week in and week out to have success on Sundays offensively. Because ,you know teams are going to do certain things to take things away like you said. So, we got to do a great job, as a coaching staff, putting our guys in positions to make great plays.”
On player production
The OC said that the tight ends are still a big part of the offense, and they’re only two weeks through the season, but they want everyone to be involved. He acknowledged that sometimes they have schemed up routes to the TEs but the coverage dictates the ball goes elsewhere, but they do want to get those guys involved.
When asked about DeVonta Smith only making two catches on his seven targets against the 49ers, Steichen said that the rookie played, “alright,” but that there were obviously things they can all get better on.
“Obviously, as coaches, we got to get better, myself included. We all got to get better. We had some 50-50 balls to him that were up in the air. And, obviously, we can do some other little things with him going forward just like we can with everybody else.”
Steichen also was asked about running back Boston Scott not getting playing time the first two games, and he emphasized that there is a role for Scott and when they get in a position where his role is needed, he’ll play.
“Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. He has a role, right? And if we need to use him in the games, we will, right?
Just like all those guys. Everyone has a role and when it’s his time to step up and make plays, I know he’ll be ready to go.”
On Dallas LB Micah Parsons
“He’s a heck of a player. He had a lot of pressures last week against the Chargers. He comes off the ball. He’s got a lot of speed, you can see it on film. Good on the edge, he’s good inside, too, as well. So, he’s going to be a heck of a challenge for us. We got to know where he’s at on the field, be ready for these guys. We’re ready.”