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Jonathan Gannon talks Eagles run defense, struggles against Washington

The Eagles DC was very clear that he is not okay with guys like Fletcher Cox taking 70 snaps in a game.

We head from Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon on Thursday, for the first time since their loss on Monday night. He talked about the defensive performance against Washington and highlighted some of their biggest issues, like the run game — which he elaborated on, as well.

Here’s what the DC had to say:

On the defensive performance vs. Washington

“Didn’t do enough to win the game on our end. Flat out. Let them possess the ball for a good amount of time, obviously, the entire game, especially the first half. There’s some things we need to clean up execution-wise, detail-wise — it starts with me.

The amount of plays, and the time of possession, I felt like that really hurt our team because we’re on the field for a long time, and when you do that, then they have the opportunity to score points and, on the flip side of all that, our offense is sitting on the bench, and I don’t like that. So, gave up 20 points in the first half; you’re not going to win many games when you do that. So, we got our work ahead of us.

Now, what I do like, in the second half I think we played a little bit better. We executed on some known-pass situations, which helped us — which in the first half we didn’t really do that. When we had known-pass situations on second and third down, we didn’t get it to third-and-in-our-favor, or even they made some first downs on second down. When you do that, the plays are going to get high, the time of possession is going to get out of whack, and they’re going to have a chance to score points.

So, second half, I felt like we cleaned that up and played better. I think we gave up six points there in the second half, got off on some third downs and played how we’ve been playing.”

On their run defense

Gannon went on to acknowledge that they need to get better in the run game, and the coaches need to do a better job preparing the guys. He noted that if a team is going to run the ball on first and second down repeatedly to get to a third-and-short situation, the defense needs to be able to combat that.

The DC noted that each game plan is different, but the attention they had to put on the run game did affect how much they were able to double-team Terry McLaurin, resulting in some of the third-and-long plays that moved the sticks.

Gannon later talked about how the run defense is more than just one or two guys, it comes down to all 11 guys on the field. That’s something that will be even more evident in Week 11 as they prepare to face the Indianapolis Colts and Jonathan Taylor. The DC said that the Colts offense will make their corners tackle, and the whole field will need to execute at a high level.

He explained how it’s a balance, because you don’t want teams running on you all day, but short runs are better than explosive pass plays. Still, he admitted that when offense’s adjust, they need to adjust as well, because they can’t let the run just go undefended or unstopped.

Gannon doesn’t think that the run defense suffered the past two weeks because of Jordan Davis being. The DC acknowledged that he’s a good player, and they like when he’s on the field, but he thinks they’ve seen some different things from offense’s the past two weeks and that’s the main reason for the change in production.

On adding Linval Joseph

“He’s a really good player against the run. And then with Marlon [Tuipulotu] getting hurt, we needed to add another piece there. I was with Linval for four years. He’s a really good player, his attitude is right, his character is great. He practices extremely hard, he’s diligent. So, he kind of fits right in to what we do and how he wants to play and what he wants to do, and I think it’ll help us.”

Gannon said that he isn’t worried about Joseph being out of shape, pointing out that he’s the kind of guy who is working on that aspect of his game throughout the day on his own.

Other notables

  • Gannon admitted that there were two plays when the defense only had 10 men on the field, and the DC said it was his fault both times.
  • He was adamant about not liking how many snaps guys like Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave played on Monday. Gannon explained that with the known-pass plays and how they were being played, it shifted some of their personnel groupings and guys took a bigger load that the DC wanted.

“[Fletcher Cox]’s played extremely well. He’s one of our best box defenders that you could ever ask for, and he’s super versatile. He’s playing good football for us. And, when you ask those big guys to play that many snaps, it’s hard duty on everybody.”

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