Jonathan Gannon, Who Some People Want to Fire Despite the Eagles Being 8-1, Answers Run Defense Questions
The Eagles are 8-1 so they’re not going to fire the defensive coordinator.
Here’s some of what Jonathan Gannon said at Thursday’s highly-anticipated press conference:
Q. In the run game you gave up 3.1 yards per carry, which if you add up over the course of the year it will probably be best in the league, but they stayed on schedule as you mentioned, it contributed to time of possession and total number of plays. I guess I’m just curious where your level of content was with your run defense? (Jimmy Kempski)
JONATHAN GANNON: Yeah, it’s one of the things we’ve been working on. I think that it should be better. We have to coach it better and I have to call the game a little bit better to help our guys out.
I don’t know the yards per carry and where we are and all that stuff, but if a team is going to run the ball on first and second down, first and second down, first and second down, and try to get it to third and short, we have to do something to combat that.
That’s what we’re working on and that’s what we’ll do.
It was the pass defense that killed them on those 3rd downs, but the Commanders kept things at 3rd and manageable for most of that first half. So it was more of a cumulative thing where Washington was retaining possession, chewing up clock, and staying on the field.
Q.There is a stat out there that teams league-wide are averaging 4.5 yards per rush, and yet points are down. Are you okay with allowing teams to run on you, because ultimately the numbers are down and you’ll take that over what could happen versus the pass?(Jeff McLane)
JONATHAN GANNON: That’s a good question, Jeff. I mean, I think you don’t want teams to run on you all day. You don’t want to do that. You have to defend the run and the pass.
With saying that, you know that there are stresses and strengths of each call. I always talk about the quickest way to give up a lot of points is the ball to go over your head. Now, with saying that, when offenses adjust, we have to adjust, too.
And that’s not just like this year, that’s each game is a little bit different; how you set up the game plan; that’s during the game, what’s going on. That’s what we talked about Houston, what kind of was going on.
So, and you’ve just got to — it’s a constant chess match back and forth. Are they going to keep doing this or not? But if you win some of those known-pass situations that we’ve been winning at pretty high clip, the however many plays we played, 80 plays, that goes down to 60, you know what I mean, and you are right where you want to be and you give up kind of the points we have been giving up.
So, you have to see how out game is kind of going and set it up that way, but I think that’s a good question as far as schematics right now and who is playing the different spots of quarterbacks and different offenses. Especially ways that defenses are trying to combat certain things. Offenses have adjusted, and then obviously the defense will have to adjust.
For some context here, I went back into the Sport Radar data and it says the Eagles are giving up 4.74 yards per rush, which is eighth-worst in the NFL. But there’s such little variation here from top to bottom. It’s kind of like turnover margins in the NBA, where chopping off two turnovers per game would move the Sixers from like 20th to 10th, you know what I mean?
The Eagles, however, only allow 18.7 points per game, which is 7th best in the league, so through nine games thus far, their approach really has worked out for them.
Q.You say you’re working on the run defense, getting better. What are your options at this point? The personnel is what it is; you’re adding DT Linval Joseph, but schematically I don’t think anything changes. What are some options there?(Ed Kracz)
JONATHAN GANNON: That’s a good question. There are some things schematically within things that we do and we have that we can use those bullets, so to speak. It’s just deploying them and using them at the right times, and I can help our guys out a little bit better calling it a little bit better.
That’s going to always come down to within each call the strength and the stress of each call. Putting our hands on the right people, playing with good pad level, fundamentals. And that is all 11 guys.
So, it starts with us coaches to make sure the fundamentals — and we are really good at times. It’s got to be consistently throughout the game. And I know it’s never going to be perfect, but we have to make sure we’re consistent with what we’re doing, because run game, run defense is not one or two guys, it’s all 11.
This team that we’re about to play, they make the corners tackle, and we have to do a good job of crack replace and tackling backs. That’s how they’re winning games right now.
So, it’s all 11 guys, and we have to execute at a high level, just like in everything, situation, pass game, but especially the run game as well. One guy gets a little bit cut out and another guy thinks he’s going to be here and he’s not there, it leads to a six-yard gain instead of a three-yard gain. That’s what you’re talking about the kind of the first and second down, like 3.1, whatever.
When you’re playing a game in third and short all day and it’s not known pass on third down, it’s a hard way to go for us. We don’t want to play like that, and we know that, and we have to get cleaned up.
There are deeper schematic answers to that, which he obviously did not get into. You can certainly play more 4-3 if you need to. Go three linebackers and live with one of them having to be in coverage. You don’t have Avonte Maddox anyway, so your current 3rd corner is Josiah Scott. You can play press man on the outside and go single-high safety. Walk your other safety down to the box ala Malcolm Jenkins and push numbers toward the line of scrimmage. There are options here.
Like I said on Crossing Broadcast this week, if Matt Ryan and Michael Pittman beat Kyzir White on a big passing play, so be it. But if Jonathan Taylor chews up 40 minutes of clock and you lose the same way you lost last week, then you start asking questions. Gannon does not want to give up the big plays, so to me I’m curious what he’s willing to concede philosophically in order to patch up some of the problem areas.