Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon spoke to reporters on Wednesday and talked about preparing to face the Giants for the third time this season, and also about the secondary and why they’ve had success in that room.
Gannon said that the, “Vibe is awesome,” but that they do talk to the team about psychological prep and making sure they aren’t getting too hyped in the moment.
He wouldn’t talk about interviewing for head coaching positions during the bye week, or how that might have been more challenging if he had a game to prepare for, and was clear that his focus right now is on the Giants.
Here’s what the DC would talk about:
On preparing for the Giants
Gannon noted that every game is different, but the Giants are a familiar opponent. Still, they are preparing for the game like they do any game, whether it’s someone they’ve played several times before or not. They go through their normal process, but they do use some of the previous games as a tool, but know that they’ll have some different things, as well.
The DC also talked about Daniel Jones’ performance against the Vikings in the Wild Card round.
“He played extremely well. You know, their offense was clicking on all cylinders. He made a lot of plays, a lot of throws, he used his legs at the right times to extend drives and get some first downs.
We know, just like anybody we go against, that the skillset of everybody that we’re playing against, how they use those guys and what we gotta be aware of, and what we have to have a plan for, and yeah, he played extremely well that game. And that’s one of the major reasons why they’re playing us on Saturday night.”
As for any differences he sees from their Week 14 matchup against the Giants to now, Gannon just explained that they are a really good football team that is playing at a high level right now. The offense is able to do some unique things because of Jones’ skillset and it makes it hard for defenses to defend.
“We gotta be connected and stay connected, and do a good job with our fundamentals and tackling, and being on the same page and communicating the right way. And really, then basically becomes knowing what they like to do and then ultimately executions at a premium.”
Gannon was later asked about Giants’ WR Isaiah Hodgins, and the DC was quick to point out that he’s a big guy with a big-time catch radius, and he runs good routes. Hodgins makes a lot of contested catches in traffic and one-on-one — plus Jones is accurate, which helps.
Last time the Eagles played the Giants starters, RB Saquon Barkley had nine carries for 28 yards, and Gannon said the key is for the Eagles defense to play the calls the right way to repeat that success. They understand that Barkley is going to make plays because he’s a really unique player and they need all 11 guys on defense to do their job at a high level to keep him from having a big game.
Gannon was asked about whether they are concerned about maybe overthinking things having played the Giants now a third time in such a short time span, but he explained that head coach Nick Sirianni gave a very clear vision of how he wants this game played.
On C.J. Gardner-Johnson playing slot CB
“He’s willing to do whatever we need him to do to win the game.”
Gannon explained that Gardner-Johnson was excited about the opportunity to play in the slot, noting it’s a position he’s played before. The DC said that the conversation didn’t take long — Gannon said “Hey you’ll be at safety and nickel,” and CJGJ said “Okay cool, let’s go.”
Overall, Gannon said he’s happy with how he played and what he did, but they’ll see who is up and down this Saturday night before determining how guys fit against the Giants. He also said that he has faith in that whole DB room, including Reed Blankenship, which is why they are able to be versatile in the secondary.
On Dennard Wilson coaching Slay and Bradberry
“Both of those guys have played at a high level for a long time, and all players want is to know how you can improve them as a coach. Dennard [Wilson] holds a very high standard in that room, and they want to be held accountable because they know that if the coach holds them accountable, they’re going to improve. So, that’s been a great room to be around.
I love what Dennard does in there with them. You know, he’s hard on those guys and they know they gotta be prepared when they walk into that meeting room or on the field, or they will get exposed.
So, those guys are high football character guys that want to be coached and want to do things the right way. That’s why you see them playing at a high level because they continually improve.”
- Rookie Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean haven’t played a ton this season, but Gannon acknowledged that any experience the two can get in the postseason will be valuable. But, he pointed out, they know that they have to prepare for this game just like every other game during the season. There’s a bit of a heightened awareness that it’s a must-win to continue, but the process to prepare for the game stays the same.
- The DC acknowledged that Sirianni’s training camp schedule and more late-season walk-throughs have been huge in keeping the Eagles as one of the healthiest teams. Gannon said that the plan obviously worked, and he anticipates guys being energized with fresh legs heading into Saturday’s game.
- Gannon said that the guys who stepped in for Josh Sweat did a good job, as he would expect them to do, but having him back is a huge advantage for them.
- On Tuesday, Nick Sirianni said that giving up play-calling duties has allowed him to spend more time in-game with the defense, and Gannon said that he 100 percent has seen the benefits of that change.