The Eagles were back to work on Wednesday and DC Jonathan Gannon spoke to reporters about some of the issues with the run defense against the Cowboys, what he’s seen so far from the linebacker group, and why two of the big TD receptions were his fault. He also talked about the Chiefs offensive stars and what he expects to see from them on Sunday.
Here’s what the defensive coordinator had to say:
On the run defense vs. Cowboys
Gannon admitted that it was disappointing the way that Dallas was able to run the ball on Monday night, and didn’t think the defense put the team in a position to be competitive and win the game.
“We got a lot of adjustments to make, and we’ve got to get better in a hurry because we’ve got a good team coming in here on Sunday.”
The DC noted, however, that when the team got back to work on Wednesday the attitude and demeanor was good, there was no finger pointing, just guys focused on what they have to improve in order to put themselves in position to win a game.
Gannon was asked whether not having Brandon Graham on the field to set the edge was a factor in some of their success in the run game, but he thinks they’ve handled his absence well. He explained that they were able to take away some of Dallas’ offense, but in doing so, Dallas was able to attack the part of the game that was left vulnerable.
On some of the big touchdown catches
Gannon shot down the notion that the 44-yard CeeDee Lamb TD reception was due to a busted assignment, and took accountability for that score.
“No, there was no assignment bust. The bust was on me. That call is not specific for that play. It was a good scheme. Nobody busted the coverage. I wish I had that one back because I put our guys in a tough spot with what that coverage entails, so that one is really on me.”
The defensive coordinator also took responsibility for the Dalton Schultz touchdown — the first one. Gannon did say that he wishes that coverage was played a little better top down, but sometimes they get unscouted routes, or scouted routes that are just tough.
On the linebacker play
“I think they’re playing good right now as a collective whole. They’re doing extremely well in the passing game. You’d like to not miss a bunch of tackles, but missed tackles happen in the NFL.
I think that, like as a collective whole, they’re doing what we ask them to do. They’re finishing on the football, they’re punching at it. They’ve been in some passing windows. They’re running the defense.
As far as the communication with the front and the back end, we put a lot on their plate and they’re handling it well.”
On the Chiefs offense
QB Patrick Mahomes
Gannon was asked what makes quarterback Patrick Mahomes so difficult to defend, and he noted that the QB is “extremely accurate” and he’s someone that forces a defense to cover both vertically and horizontally.
“To me, I don’t know what a generational quarterback is, but whatever that is, he probably is that.”
The DC went on to explain that they will really have to do a good job of minimizing some of the explosive play opportunities when Mahomes gets off schedule, because when he starts moving around, the rest of their offense does a good job of knowing how to get open and what spots to find.
When Gannon was in Indianapolis, they were ablet to limit Mahomes and the Chiefs offense to just 13 points, but he pointed out that for one thing, they didn’t have WR Tyreek Hill on the field. Other than that, they played good team defense that day and were able to take the ball away a few times. He was sure to note that game is by no way a blueprint for how things could go on Sunday.
“The teams that hang with them, they execute at a very high level, and they take the ball away. Typically, you steal a couple possessions, the teams that stay in it with them. You look at the time of possession, and with that — with us, that’s just not talking about the offense. With us, they don’t have a lot of 3rd downs because they convert 1st downs on 1st and 2nd down, and when they do get to 3rd down, they convert at a pretty high clip.”
He went on to say that they’ll have to be able to come up with big stops on 3rd-and-1 to get off the field and avoid eight-plus minute drives. They have to be able to get the Eagles offense back on the field.
TE Travis Kelce
“He knows how to get open. He has a big catch radius. He’s really good run after the catch, and he’s smart. And he’s got a quarterback that he’s on the same page with. When you’re defending a guy like that, you see a lot of times when we’re looking at the tape and it’s named a certain route concept, and you look at it and you’re like, ‘No, that’s not that concept.’ Well, it actually is, but then he’s adjusting his route off the coverage.”
WR Tyreek Hill
“He wins one-on-one. He can get open at a high level through zones or versus man coverage. He’s really good with the ball in his hands. He makes some catches that you’re like, ‘Man, that ball was a little underthrown or a little overthrown or behind him.’ He adjusts to the ball in the air. He’s got elite ball skills to me. Elite ball skills with elite speed, it’s a tough cover. Our guys are ready for the challenge, and we’ll have a good plan for them.”