Eagles Training Camp kicks off this week, so there will be plenty of time to observe the team’s potential. While the expectations for the team are higher than in recent years, specific individuals will warrant greater attention. All eyes will undoubtedly be on Jalen Hurts, but a closer look at Jonathan Gannon is more than necessary.
Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator needs to prove that he is the right man for the job after an average first season. In a coaching staff that is so fresh and new, being the weak link is an easy and quick job killer. After watching the defense that Gannon put on the field and the struggles they experienced, he is in the hot seat.
Nick Sirianni displayed his flexibility as a head coach last year. His willingness to change the offense throughout the season made Philadelphia into a playoff team. With Shane Steichen taking over the offensive playcalling, Sirianni continues to show that he is willing to alter his coaching methods to achieve success. Gannon needs to show that he can make the necessary changes to make this a top-tier defense.
“I’m still waiting to see who and what Jonathan Gannon really is,” said Seth Joyner. “If he continues to be passive, then those players are going to play passively . . . it all starts and ends with him.”
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Yes, Gannon was in the running for some head coaching positions over the offseason, but that does not change the fact that Philadelphia’s defense was overwhelmed against higher-level teams. Philadelphia going 9-2 against non-playoff teams and 0-7 against playoff teams last year is quite troublesome. Many people choose to direct the blame towards Hurts, but Gannon and last year’s defense are just as guilty, if not more.
Last season, due to injury and a lack of dependable talent, Philadelphia’s defense was a lower to middle-level group. Regardless, in such an average defense, it was Gannon’s duty to alter his scheme in order to adapt to the strengths of the players he had, but that did not appear to happen. Such struggles resulted in allowing at least 27 points on the board in seven of their nine losses, in addition to an embarrassing defensive display in the playoffs to cap off the season.
Going into this season, Gannon has plenty to work with on his new defensive roster. Yet, as Joyner previously discussed, it is truly difficult to see how Gannon is capable of becoming something drastically from what he showed last season. Gannon and his coaching will not be the catalyst or puppet master behind the triumphs of this defense, the sheer talent of the group will be the cause of any success.
“You got to morph your fronts, you got morph your defenses and I haven’t seen Jonathan Gannon have the propensity to do that,” said Seth Joyner on JAKIB Sports’ “The National Football Show”. “Until I see that, I don’t have a whole lot of confidence.”
Regardless of that fact, Gannon should be out to prove that he is more than capable of proving critics wrong. With the new defensive weapons, Gannon needs to be much more aggressive with his defense. A large reason why pass rush statistics were so underwhelming last season was because of the lack of intensity that the defensive scheme promoted.
Dan Sileo explained on “The National Football Show” how the two-gapping technique for the defensive line and the linebackers job to read off of them was not the answer. According to Pro Football Reference, Philadelphia blitzed the QB only 106 times last season with only 16.4% of those blitzes occurring for dropback passes, which ranked only higher than the Las Vegas Raiders. Ever since their Super Bowl season, Philadelphia has been known for its high-energy pass disruption reputation, but Gannon seemed to abandon that whole style of play.
Last season, the Eagles’ defensive coordinator did enough to fool everyone into thinking that his defense is effective. Nevertheless, as it was demonstrated against better overall teams, his conservative defense can be easily exposed. If Jonathan Gannon does not make the necessary adjustments to his defensive scheme, this defensive unit that has been put together will be put to waste and Gannon will be out of Philadelphia.
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