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Jonathan Gannon talks Eagles’ young DTs, secondary improvements, and more

Plus, the Eagles defensive coordinator explains his top teaching points to stop RPOs.

Just days away from the Eagles first preseason game, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon talked to reporters about what he’s looking for from the defense, what he’s seen in camp from some of the young DTs, and also detailed some of his top teaching points for stopping RPOs.

Here’s what the defensive coordinator had to say:

On Friday’s preseason game

Gannon wouldn’t tip their hand as to whether the starters would play in Friday’s opening preseason game, or for how long. He said they talked about it again on Tuesday and it’ll be an ongoing conversation between himself, Nick Sirianni, and Howie Roseman, although he does anticipate them having an answer in the next 48 hours.

The DC later explained what he was looking for from players on Friday:

“Execution and taking the ball away and tackling. Everybody has a little bit different job obviously, but really just looking for our guys to let it loose. We talked about it with them a day or two ago. You have to know what to do so you can play free, because your body doesn’t work if your brain doesn’t work first.

Just looking for us to run around, have fun, and play how the standard that we’ve set for them.”

On LB Nakobe Dean

“He’s very smart, he’s tough, and he’s very physical. Happy with where he’s at. He’s going to continue to improve, and we’ll get a good look at him here coming up in the next couple weeks.”

On the defensive tackles

Gannon was asked about Marlon Tuipulotu and the DT getting more reps with the ones in twos this training camp.

“He’s doing a good job. He played some really good snaps last year for us, and I think the things that we said — when we came in the off-season we gave each player two or three things, like you have to get better at this.

And it’s not a general thing. It’s a very specific deal with technique or something in the run or pass game. He’s improved that part of his game.”

He later said that Tuipulotu is a guy that allows them to do different things when he’s on the field, which is “big time” for the defense. The DC also noted that Milton Williams is another guy who has been sticking out.

“He’s doing a really good job with what we asked him to improve as well, so I’m very pleased where that room is, and I like the versatility and flexibility of the different skillsets in there.”

Gannon talked about Marvin Wilson and said he’s another from the DL room who has really improved where they asked him to.

“A lot of that was bend and pad level and striking blocks with his hands. He’s doing a good job. I’m really excited to see him go out and play versus the Jets.”

On the secondary

Gannon credited coaches Denard Wilson and D.K. McDonald for some of the very detailed improvement in the DB room. They emphasize that it’s okay to make a mistake, but don’t make it again, and he’s seen those corrections being made and cutting downs on mistakes.

“What you’ve seen in camp, they are doing a good job of covering and denying the ball, which is the No. 1 job description of a corner. That’s a good room. I like where they are at, and I am excited to see those guys plays versus some other people.”

The DC also explained their decision to take a look at CB Josiah Scott at safety. Scott’s skillset made the adjustment worth a try, but he’s doing a good job and the coach is happy with how he responded.

There are a lot of young DBs competing for a roster spot, and Gannon said they are looking forward to the opportunities over the next few weeks.

“Live exposure versus different people is a really good evaluation tool to see where we’re at. I know they’re looking forward to getting out there and playing on Friday night.

Again, those two joint practices with Cleveland and Miami, we’re where our feet are right now, but they know that’s coming down the road and that’ll be really good exposure for them.”

On his teaching points to stop RPOs

“Disguise and eyes. Disguise would be if they’re reading a certain play, you don’t want the quarterback to know before the ball is snapped who is he reading. That’s one.

And then eyes is, your eye progression as a defender, every defender, he’s putting his eyes as a primary key and then there’s a secondary key. When those type of misdirection pass-run, run-pass plays happen, you have to know, am I with my primary or my secondary when that type of play happens?

The other thing with that, and it’s good we’re seeing it from our offense, because you start to see that’s a little more prevalent in the league right now, is our offense has some really good ones that aren’t the kind of the generic easy RPOs. We have some different RPOs in there.

You’re like, is that a run or is it a pass? Is it a pass, run, read? So, we’re seeing a lot of different looks at that.

It’s making our guys be disciplined with how they’re playing them.”

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