The Eagles defense was notably better against the Vikings in Week 2, and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon spoke to reporters on Thursday about their success with the blitz and his thoughts on their four-man rush. He also talked about preparing for Carson Wentz and the Commanders various skill players.
Here’s what the DC had to say:
On the Monday night win
“I think coaches and players did a good job of executing. We played four quarters. The things we emphasized throughout the week, I thought they did a good job of taking the coaching, and preparing the way we need to prepare, and execute. And some of the things we needed to get cleaned up in a hurry, we cleaned up.
Looking forward to the challenge this week, on the road, divisional game. They’ve got a lot of good players over there, and our guys will be ready to roll.”
Gannon acknowledged that a lot of their game planning was focused on Justin Jefferson last week, saying that when you’re doing research, you look at how they’re scoring points, and the WR is a big factor for the Vikings.
The DC talked about how really good corner plays starts with the defensive line, and that was the case against Minnesota.
“When the fronts rush in and winning at a high level like they were, it just makes the quarterback uncomfortable and sometimes he’s gotta throw it before he wants to throw it, or the timing might be knocked off a little bit.”
He said that it takes all 11 players working together to be successful, and the guys understand that. But, he did say that he felt the whole backend had a pretty good game.
On their effective blitzing
“I don’t know if it was more effective, I think we’re able to deploy some of them in the game because the situations came up and we decided when we put the game plan together, this is when we want to use some of these calls — and a lot of times, those calls are up in a game, but they don’t come to fruition so to speak. So, I thought the guys did a good job when those were called. Some of those pressures were called, they executed them, and the rush got there and we held up in coverage.”
On preparing for Carson Wentz
He didn’t want to give away the game plan, but said in general they look to affect the quarterback pre- and post-snap and will need to win their one-on-one matchups.
“[Carson Wentz]’s lighting it up right now. That’s a big time challenge. He’s got a big arm, he can make off-scheduled plays, he’s got really good skill guys, and their o-line does a good job of, when they need to protect him, they protect him. So, we got a big time challenge.”
Gannon later pointed to Curtis Samuel, Josh Doctson, and Terry McLaurin as some of the skill players they’ll have to prepare for, and also noted they have a good tight end and two good running backs. He says they’ll have to do different things in different coverages, and make the Commanders find the weak spot in each coverage. They’ll also have to see how Washington’s offense is playing and then make some in-game adjustments as needed.
On the Eagles’ 4-man rush
“I think we’re winning at a high rate. I think if we keep winning at a high rate, the production will come. You saw a couple sacks, the strip sack by [Fletcher Cox], [Josh Sweat] ended the game. A couple of those picks were four-men rushes. Some guys won if they hit the quarterback. So, I like where we’re at right now and that’s another part of our game, just like every part, that we’re always going to try and continually improve on and make better.”
- Gannon later talked a little bit about their schematic philosophy and game planning and how they have a certain number of calls ready every week, but how many are used is something fluctuates with what their game day opponent is showing.
- Head coach Nick Sirianni said on Wednesday that Gannon was good at blocking outside noise, and the DC agreed and said that dwelling on that — good and bad — is a recipe for disaster. So, he doesn’t feel any more pressure this week than he did last week.
- Gannon said that CJ Gardner-Johnson was making progress, and was a doing a good job in the box and in the pass game. He noted that it’s important for safeties to be reliably in the right spot, every time, and the DC said CGJ took a big jump in that regard from Week 1 to Week 2.