Why less is more for Jonathan Gannon


Watching football on TV, we all see the play sheets that offensive and defensive coaches cling to throughout the game.

They’re usually laminated and color-coded, jammed with tiny print with a mind-boggling array of potential calls to be used throughout the game depending on the score, situation, personnel and down and distance.

For Jonathan Gannon, the play sheet looks a little bit different.

The Eagles’ first-year defensive coordinator has a play sheet like every other play caller, but if you ever get a glimpse of it on a close-up TV shot you’ll notice that it’s not as crowded as many others.

It’s not quite as over-stuffed with tiny print as others, and there’s a reason for it.

Gannon's philosophy is that if the play sheet isn't overly cluttered, the players' minds won't be overly cluttered either.

“I hear a lot of people talk about identity and this and that,” Gannon explained Tuesday. “And Jalen (Hurts) I think said it best: ‘It's not what you call, it's not the plays, it's how you play.’ And we've said that from when we got here: Our identity (is) running to the ball, out-hitting people, taking the ball away and being smart. And that's always a thing that you're working on to improve in practice weekly and in games.

“Some games, the sheet's a little bit more dense, some games it's a little bit tighter. And that all comes down to who you're defending, who you have, all that stuff. So was the sheet (less crowded) this week? It was. And you guys see my sheet. I can't speak for other people. But some other guys that I know, their call sheets are a lot denser than ours. I’ve always said in my mind, that's for a reason."


And Gannon’s philosophy is that it’s a lot easier to go out and play free and easy and let your ability show if you’re not overloaded with a thousand possible calls every snap.

There is something to be said for the old adage, “Keep it Simple, Stupid,” especially with a new coach and a new scheme and new players.

Don't overload them. Give them the best call and let them fly around.

“I think it allows them to, when they're on their own watching tape, they can say, ‘OK, here's the three calls that we're going to be in. How do you play this, how do you play that, how do you play that?’” Gannon said.

“Because if you have 10 calls that you can possibly be in, it's hard to go through each play and say, ‘All right, this adjustment, that adjustment, how do we play this, is that a switch release or is it not?’ So you go through that with the players, I always thought that keeping the plan tight takes off mental stress of the player, which in turn should make them play faster.

“Again, it's not what you call, it's how you do things. It's how you play. And I think that's on us to say, ‘Hey, let's let our guys just get our feet in the grass and just play.’”

A lot has been made about the growth the Eagles’ offense has shown over the last month, but the defense has played much better as well, especially generating pressure and in coverage.

And for Gannon and his unit, it comes down to the reality that in a lot of cases, less is definitely more.

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