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Jonathan Gannon: 'We gotta challenge a little bit more'

Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon
Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon

Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon didn't dodge an issue. He wasn't happy with the team's defensive performance and said he planned to change things up moving forward as the Eagles prepare for Detroit on Sunday.

Amid postgame concerns voiced by defensive tackle Fletcher Cox about the defensive scheme and Head Coach Nick Sirianni's mention in his postgame press conference that the defense needs to "challenge" more, Gannon said on Tuesday he understood what has been said.

About Cox's comments, Gannon said: "I understand Fletch's point. I think it comes from he's an unselfish player that has a lot of passion for winning and losing and our entire defense is frustrated that we're 2-5 right now because we're not playing well enough. I need to do a better job of that with him."

As for what Sirianni said in the aftermath of the 33-22 loss in which Raiders quarterback Derek Carr completed 31 of 34 passes, Gannon said he was the one who planted the seeds of Sirianni's words.

"That came from me. I said when we got out of the game, the ball didn't hit the ground. That tells me we gotta challenge a little bit more," Gannon said. "That's within, 'Hey, this is our Rolodex of coverages how we want to play and what we need to get done.' I need to change some coverages up and challenge a little bit more. Get a little tighter. Get closer to people. Close windows. Pre-snap disguise. Post-snap disguise. What are we trying to do with the coverages? That needs to get corrected because you can't play winning football when the ball doesn't hit the ground."

It isn't the players, Gannon said. In fact, he expressed confidence that the defensive roster, one that he openly offers input in during conversations with General Manager Howie Roseman, is plenty good enough.

"Anybody we need to play winning football is in that building right there," Gannon said pointing to the NovaCare Complex. "I'm 100 percent confident in that."

The Eagles aren't going to rip apart and rebuild their defensive scheme or their philosophies in the span of the next few days before traveling to Detroit to meet the Lions, who feature a veteran quarterback who has been to the Super Bowl in Jared Goff, a fine receiving tight end in T.J. Hockenson and running back D'Andre Swift, who is the Alvin Kamara version for the Lions of what Kamara does for the New Orleans Saints, where Head Coach Dan Campbell worked before joining Detroit.

What can Gannon do in the days and weeks ahead?

"I can do a better job of mixing to get tighter and challenge a little bit more and put our guys in better position to win certain downs," he said. "We have to coach better. I know that. Two-and-five, that says that immediately. Who does that fall on? Us. But, with saying that, our guys have proven, and we can be more consistent with it, to be able to play winning football.

"Our (coaches') deal is, 'Figure it out, man. Figure it out.' So, we need to figure it out better than what we're doing. Flat out."

The players understand that, Gannon says. He was asked if the players believe in what he's trying to do and Gannon didn't hesitate with his response.

"I think so and I'm confident in that because when we go in and install the game plan, they're juiced up," he said. "When we explain to them, 'Here's why we're doing what we're doing,' they understand, and you see it in practice and you see it in a game. They're trying to do what we want them to do. We've got to set it up a little bit better. A lot of people, they start to point fingers at the players. I've never met a player that wants to mess up. Ever.

"So, when things aren't going great, let's look at it from the standpoint of, 'What are we asking this guy to do? How are we coaching it? What are we saying to the guy to improve the player?' That's what I love about our coaching staff. That's what yesterday was. That's what today is. How are we going to improve our guys, to serve the players? Because when you serve the players, they play better and you win football games."

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