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Jonathan Gannon talks Eagles defensive tackle position in aftermath of Jordan Davis injury

The Eagles’ DC also explains the defense’s focus on limiting explosive plays.

Eagles are on a short week, and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon spoke with reporters on Tuesday about Jordan Davis and the DT position without the rookie. He also thanked Howie Roseman for getting Robert Quinn, showed a lot of respect for Texans’ RB Dameon Pierce, and explained the two stats the team emphasizes.

Here’s what the DC had to say:

On Jordan Davis and the DT group

Nick Sirianni wouldn’t give a timetable for Davis’ return other than saying he wouldn’t be playing this week. Gannon was asked how potentially missing several weeks would affect Davis’ development and conditioning, but the DC doesn’t expect much of a falloff from how he’s been playing.

As for filling Davis’ role, Gannon feels good about the guys they have in the DT room. He explained that they’ve been cross-training players to be able to plug and fill different spots if guys go down.

The DC was asked about how Davis being out will affect the kind of snaps Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave get.

“Like all our guys, we always put a plan together of hey, this is where we want the snap counts, this is who is playing in these packages, who is playing with who. As the game goes, you want to try to keep to that. It’s never perfect. You never set up the game plan and say, ‘This guy gets this many snaps, and this many snaps,’ and it comes out like that.

We do have a process that we go through. I think those guys that will be playing, picking up his snaps, will do a good job. And we’ll keep those guys fresh.”

Gannon also talked about DT Marlon Tuipulotu and the versatility he gives them along the lines.

“He has a really good anchor. He was one of the guys way back when when they leave here for the summer, we kind of give them a plan, This is what you need to improve. I thought that he’s improved what we wanted him to improve at a pretty high clip.

So, feel really good about Marlon [Tuipulotu]. He gives you anchor, he gives you versatility along the lines in the three and four down stuff. You saw he’s rushing better this year.

Feel really good about him.”

On DE Robert Quinn

Gannon was asked about his initial reaction to Quinn’s first game as an Eagle, and the DC joked, “Thanks, Howie [Roseman].”

He elaborated, noting it was great to get a guy with the kind of production Quinn has had in his career, and is a high football character. Gannon credited DE/OLB coach Jeremiah Washburn for getting Quinn caught up enough to play just three days after he got to Philly.

“He’s an extremely intelligent player and he’s played a lot of ball. It’s just putting it into the verbiage of that. He really walked right into that room and fit right in, and it helps everybody in that room.”

Gannon later acknowledged that Quinn’s addition enables them to cross-train guys inside, and look at different combinations they can use.

“Really just adding Robert gives us a little bit more flexibility with how we rotate guys, where some guys can play some different spots, and to keep those guys fresh.”

On Texans RB Dameon Pierce

“Good player, man. I mean, really good player. Got a high opinion of him. He jumps off the tape. Typically, I don’t put up a lot of backs in front of the room and say, ‘Hey, guys, this is a challenge ahead.’ He was one of them.

He’s tough. He has vision. He’s explosive. He breaks tackles. He runs violently. Can catch it out of the backfield. They deploy him in a good way. The run schemes that they use, they accentuate his skill set, which is pretty cool, and we’ve got a big-time challenge.”

On limiting explosive plays

Gannon admitted he’s not much of a stat guy, but he does pay attention to explosive plays — he and Nick Sirianni often talk about how much they emphasize winning the turnover battle and explosive play battle.

“Taking the ball away and explosive plays, offense and defense, those are two winning stats. We always have that in our mind. Our players have that in their mind. Certain situations, you obviously see I call the game with that in mind.

I do know that there’s stress and there’s a strength of every call. I think our players have done a really good job of knowing that if a stress point of a call is an explosive play, they play it that way. They’re not going to gamble and guess, or be super aggressive in certain calls because they know they don’t have help and they can’t play like that.

When there’s other calls that the strength of the call is to take away the explosive pass, then they can be a little more aggressive in certain routes. That comes down to having really good coaches. They have the players understand within each call what’s the stress and the strength of the call, when they can be aggressive and when they can’t.

That’s an entire defensive thing that we talk about with all of our guys because the quickest way to get beat is the ball going over your head. Our guys know that. They’ve done a really good job with it.”

Other notables

  • Gannon credits the players having a better understanding of what they’re being asked to do as a reason for the significantly more productive defense this year.
  • The DC said that they did discuss pulling the back seven at the end of the Steelers’ game, but they got in a weird spot and weren’t able to make the move. He admitted that he would have liked to see some other guys get in and get reps, but that’s not how it worked out.

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