Jonathan Gannon’s defense is having a historically bad season
Yesterday’s loss to the Las Vegas Raiders was embarrassing across the board, but nothing was worse than the defense run by first-year coordinator Jonathan Gannon. The Eagles’ defense allowed 442 yards to the Raiders, 323 of which came through the air.
Seven Raiders had over 20 yards receiving last night, with nearly every drive ending in a score. Derek Carr had just three incompletions and a 91.2% completion rate. According to Sheil Kapadia, that is the second-highest for any QB with at least 30 passes in NFL history.
The curator of this dominance was the weak game-planning of defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Because of the Eagles’ lack of firepower on defense, Gannon felt his best bet was to play a soft cover two defense, never letting the defense get beat. So instead of Philadelphia being aggressive, they let small completions happen consistently.
Jonathan Gannon’s schemes make Jim Schwartz look like Buddy Ryan with how little he sends blitzes. It has gotten to the point where he doesn’t allow Fletcher Cox, one of the best defensive tackles in franchise history, to rush the passer as he should. Cox, of course, took to the podium following this loss to voice his frustrations with this weak defense Philadelphia is running.
Eagles Linebackers vs Las Vegas:
The Eagles’ linebackers allowed 45% of Carr’s completions and 47% of the Raiders’ passing yards. Davion Taylor had a pathetic 22.3 defensive grade, according to PFF. Only three Eagles finished with a grade higher than 70 on defense, Fletcher Cox, Darius Slay, and Avonte Maddox. Because of Jonathan Gannon’s soft coverages, Derek Carr attacked underneath the linebackers heavily as seen above.
If the Eagles forced just field goals and the offense was on a roll, I would understand this concept, but it makes zero sense. Las Vegas just wore down this defense with five-yard check-downs and scored on ten-play drives. If they’re going to score a touchdown anyway, why not be risky? Send some blitzes. Alex Singleton and Eric Wilson aren’t going to do anything in coverage anyways.
It’s not like this defense has been an issue only once this season. It is a consistent occurrence every single week. Philadelphia has allowed over 30 points in a game three times through seven games. Opposing quarterbacks have attacked what Philadelphia has given them every week, and unless they’re Sam Darnold, it worked out for them tremendously.
We are just seven weeks through the season, and if your defensive leaders are voicing frustrations about Jonathan Gannon’s decision-making, things won’t end well. Everyone criticizes Fletcher Cox for his lousy season, but he’s a Super Bowl champion and was the best DT in football for several seasons. If he is this upset about how things are being called, everyone should be listening.
It’s not all on Jonathan Gannon, though. Howie Roseman has refused to invest in linebackers for over a decade, and this is the fallout of that incompetence. I don’t have confidence in any DC to succeed in Philadelphia until Alex Singleton isn’t the best option at the position. Regardless, Gannon should still be far riskier because, literally, it cannot get any worse.
Mandatory Credit: USA Today