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Jonathan Gannon talks Eagles defensive additions, the safety position, and more

The defensive coordinator also called Nick Sirianni’s training camp schedule “phenomenal”.

The Eagles were back at practice on Friday, and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon spoke to reporters about new addition Haason Reddick, as well as talked about the safety position and about several players at the position. Gannon also called head coach Nick Sirianni’s training camp schedule “phenomenal” and thinks the players are going to get a lot out of how things are set up.

Here’s what the DC had to say:

On Haason Reddick

When asked about trying to balance having Reddick drop back versus going after the quarterback, Gannon explained that’s what he loves about camp, figuring out what players do best and how they can best use them — not just Reddick, but everyone.

“He’s a really good cover guy, so sometimes that’s a matchup driven thing. He knows that when he would be dropping, like all our overhang players, there is a reason why we do that – flexibility within the defense, depending on what the offense does that’s the kind of spacing we want to play, and it helps his teammates win some one-on-one battles. So, that’s a process with all those guys that we are figuring out now.”

On the safety position

Gannon was asked about Jaquiski Tartt and what he’ll bring to the defense.

“Good addition by Howie [Roseman]. What I look for in the safety position, he has that. He’s played at high level in San Francisco. He’s smart, tough, he can tackle, he’s a great communicator, and [we are] looking to see what he can do out there and how he integrates with our scheme and other players.”

As for what having veterans like Tartt and Anthony Harris will do for young guys like K’Von Wallace, Gannon acknowledged that they are the type of guys you want young players to mimic. They have high football character and all the vets on the roster have attributes he wants the younger players to pick up on.

“If you want to learn football, talk to the players. We can sit up there, and I can tell K’Von something but it might not be making sense how I am saying it. Well, go ask Anthony Harris and I bet it makes sense, because he’ll put it in his own words of, ‘Hey, this is what the coaches are saying; here is what you got to see, this is what you should feel, this is what you need to, do. You got it? Yeah.’

So, it’s always a very valuable thing to have on your defense – smart players that have played a lot – because a lot of times they bridge the gap from coaches to the young players. They’re that bridge. You see what happens is some of those young guys, all of a sudden, their understanding goes up and they start making more plays.”

Gannon also talked a bit about Marcus Epps and noted that the first thing he looks for in a safety is reliability, and Epps is very reliable. The DC called Epps smart, tough, and has a unique skillset they you need to play the position in the NFL.

“In 2022, the safety position looks different than when I got in the league in 2007. You have to be able to cover, you have to be able to tackle, you have to have ball skills, you have to play zone, you have to process. That’s a thinking position. He has all those tools.”

Other notables

  • Gannon said he has no expectations right now for whether Jordan Davis will be 1, 2 or 3-down defensive tackle, and they just want to see what he looks like at practice. The DC said they’ve seen a lot from their first-round draft pick this summer, and they think he’s going to be a big playmaker. They just need to get him integrated into the system and get him comfortable with what they want him to do from a communication standpoint.
  • The DC talked a bit about how they are working on pre-snap disguises a little more than they did last year. There were some things that worked and some new things they added, but it’s getting all 11 players on the field to work in unison to create those disguises.
  • Gannon was asked about Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox having played so many seasons together and how rare it is, with the DC agreeing that the NFL is almost set up to prevent two high-caliber players from staying together so long. He credited Roseman and the team for drafting them both and keeping them in Philly.

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