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Jonathan Gannon said affecting the QB is the Eagles’ focus, not just sacks

The Eagles’ DC talked a bit about player injuries, sack stats, and more.

After postponing media availability for the Eagles coordinators on Tuesday out of respect for the horrific situation on Monday night, SC Jonathan Gannon spoke to reporters on Thursday. Gannon opened by talking about Damar Hamlin and how it was good to hear some encouraging news on Thursday and they’ll continue to pray for him and his family.

Later in the press conference he talked about how it’s tough to see someone — like Josh Sweat — go down and then have to compartmentalize concern for their health with getting back into a game.

“But you have to refocus, and you have a job to do, and you have to do it. But you guys know, injuries happen in the game of football. It’s a violent contact sport. Ultimately, we appreciate those guys laying it on the line all the time with what they do. It’s entertainment for the world, but they’re sacrificing a lot, and we appreciate that.”

Here’s what else the defensive coordinator had to say:

On the defensive performance against the Saints

Gannon acknowledged that the defense needed to start faster than they did last Sunday against the Saints, saying that the drive didn’t do the offense any favors keeping them on the bench for so long. He explained that he could have made some better calls, and the execution needs to be better, pointing out that there were some explosive plays and QB runs they let go.

Ultimately, he said they just need to clean some things up, but overall played well.

On their success with sacks

Gannon reiterated for the hundredth time this season that the two stats they pay most attention to are turnovers and explosive plays, but affecting the quarterback is high up there in terms of affecting the game in a positive way.

“So our guys are doing a really good job with that, and we’ll continue in known-pass to win those downs. Sacks, if you just look at that stat, it’s really all 11, and I’ve talked about that. It’s coordinated rushes. It’s guys winning with one-on-ones. It’s the back end doing the right thing, if you’ve got seven, six, five in coverage.

Everyone has got to be coordinated. They’ve got to stay connected and really do their jobs and then you see the production come.”

The Eagles need five more sacks to get the all-time NFL record, and Gannon acknowledged that they want to see their players produce at a high level. The fact that they’re so close to the record is a testament to the coaches and having great detail and great talent. Ultimately, though, the DC is only concerned about winning.

He was asked about the team going from No. 31 in sacks last year to No. 1 this season, and whether that’s a cause or effect of the defensive improvements. Gannon explained that affecting the quarterback more was an area they wanted to address, whether that comes with sacks or better coverage, or even better disguises.

“You know all those things, the weapons that you have at your disposal as a defense to try to affect the quarterback, we wanted to improve all of that.

Then I think it’s just really a testament to the players of winning a lot of one-on-ones and staying connected and doing the right things and helping each other out. We always say the whole phrase of ‘do your job so your buddy can have success doing his,’ to me the sack numbers is a really a direct correlation of that because you see multiple times where guys are setting other guys up for sacks, which is awesome to see because that’s why it’s the ultimate team game is football.”

Gannon later talked about Haason Reddick and joked that his 16 sacks would probably be 25 if the DC didn’t have him drop back in coverage so often — but then credited Reddick for being a team-first guy, who wears whatever hat is asked of him.

Other notables

  • Gannon was asked about C.J. Gardner-Johnson and if he’s able to play slot in the Eagles’ scheme, and the DC pointed out that the whole secondary room is very versatile, including CJGJ, and they look at matchups to decide how they want to line up any given week.
  • The DC said that they are going to prepare for the Giants as if every player will be on the field, and then adjust accordingly on game day. They are focused on making sure they play good, clean defense and put the team in a position to win.
  • Gannon expected DE Robert Quinn to be back practicing on Thursday and hopefully he’s healthy and feeling well. Whether Quinn plays on Sunday is a head coach and doctor decision, but the DC is excited to see him go out and play, and he thinks Quinn is excited.

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