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Jonathan Gannon: 'Ultimately, it's about all of us just improving'

Welcome to Week 10 of this 2021 regular season as the Eagles prepare for the Denver Broncos and their final flight of the season. Denver is coming off a huge win on Sunday against Dallas, so the Broncos are feeling it. On Tuesday, the Eagles' coordinators met the media as they do each week. This is what they had to say ...

Shane Steichen: Broncos secondary presents big challenge, even if top pick CB Surtain is out

Rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith went over the 100-yard mark receiving on Sunday as he continues to have a fine first season. Shane Steichen and the coaching staff took note of what Smith did and the variety of plays that he made and continues to make as he matures in 2021.

"He made a lot more plays. I mean, he had explosive plays," Steichen said. "He had the big chunk down the sidelines, and then right after that, we hit the deep crosser to him. And we hit the big touchdown to him. Those are three explosive plays that got him over 100 yards. He's a heck of a football player. He was drafted where he was for a reason. (Executive Vice President/General Manager) Howie (Roseman) did a heck of a job in seeing that in him. He's a good player. We're excited about him."

The offense is also excited about a running game that has been physical and productive the last few weeks and Steichen knows he has variety in the backfield that has used Jordan Howard, Boston Scott, and Kenny Gainwell extensively with Miles Sanders on Injured Reserve.

"All those guys can play good football. And they're good players," Steichen said. "They are multiple and can do different things for us. We keep looking at that and it's week to week with how we use them and stuff like that. So that's good."

Tight end Tyree Jackson made his NFL debut and Steichen said Jackson "did a good job. Obviously, that was his first time getting out there playing. He's a big body for us. We like his athletic ability. So, we'll keep looking at him moving forward."

Vic Fangio's Denver defense gave Dallas fits on Sunday and Fangio is one of the game's most established defensive minds, so the offense has a challenge on the road this week even as the Broncos will likely play without first-round draft pick cornerback Patrick Surtain III.

"They're very sound. He's been running his scheme for a long time," Steichen said. "He gets those guys playing hard. If you look in the backend, (Justin) Simmons and (Kareem) Jackson, they're two veteran safeties. They've played together for a while. They're physical. Simmons is a rangy guy, Jackson is a heavy hitter in the box. He fills the run really good. And up front, they're stout up front. They're playing good football on defense. It's going to be a heck of a challenge for us, but we're excited about it."

Michael Clay impressed with specialists in 2021

The kicking game has been a strong point for the Eagles all season with placekicker Jake Elliott, punter Arryn Siposs, and long snapper Rick Lovato working well together. Michael Clay emphasized that on Tuesday.

"I think they've done a really good job so far this year. Obviously, with Arryn, he started off so hot in Atlanta," Clay said. "And we saw what he could do, especially in that plus-50 area. And you saw last week getting it downed at the 1(-yard line). And you could even probably ask him, he probably wants to be a little more consistent in the open field. But I think he's done a very good job in terms of this is almost like his rookie year in terms of coming in, getting the job, and helping the team. He's flipped the field a couple times for us right there.

"And Jake, he's been steady. He's been steady right there. The one thing – he pushed the one against Tampa Bay to the right a little bit. But everything else, he's been smooth, compact with everything. And he's showing off why he's still a very good kicker in this league. And Rick is as steady as they come. When you don't hear about a long snapper, usually, you're doing a pretty good job.

"So, we've been very pleased with those three and they're just kind of a calming factor for the whole special teams room."

Jonathan Gannon wants more consistency from the defense

More consistency. That's what Jonathan Gannon wants more from his defense. He isn't looking at statistics, other than wins and losses. He's looking at performance and he wants more – from himself and the coaching staff along with the players.

"Definitely fixable, absolutely. I wouldn't say alarming to me. I would say that we know the areas that we have to get better at, and we've done that at times. We just have to be a little more consistent," he said. "It really, though, again it starts with us setting it up a little bit better, how I call the game a little bit better at some certain spots where you can throw a wrench into what the quarterback is seeing or when they call certain plays, you'd like to be in a couple better calls here or there. But, ultimately, it's about all of us just improving and being a little more consistent."

The Eagles have seen young linebackers T.J. Edwards and Davion Taylor play a lot of reps in recent weeks and Gannon has been pleased with their progress. Edwards has been all over the football the last few weeks and Gannon has noticed.

"I think from a standpoint of being in the right spot, playing in the run game, running the defense, he's doing a really good job. He's playing winning football for us," Gannon said of Edwards. "You see how physical he is inside. There were a couple times where they ran iso (isolation) plays or lead plays and he took on the fullback, knocked him back, and made the tackle. He's doing a good job as far as what I look for in the MIKE, is running the show, being in the right spot, and playing winning football in the run and pass game, and he is doing that."

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