The Philadelphia Eagles are a few days away from opening the 2021 regular season on the road against the Atlanta Falcons. To the casual fan, the Falcons don’t exactly present the biggest threat that the Eagles will face this year, but Jonathan Gannon is ensuring his young defense doesn’t end up getting complacent.
The Falcons hardly had a transcendent offseason outside of the addition of Kyle Pitts. Their abysmal secondary saw little in the way of substantial reinforcement, there’s a lack of depth on the defensive line, and an obvious change in coaching staff. It’s that final switch up that the Eagles defensive coordinator is keen not to overlook.
The Eagles were high on Arthur Smith this offseason and he was understandably among the lead candidates to fill their Head Coach vacancy. The Titans ranked third in the league in total yards per game under his command last year, second in rushing yards, and of course, facilitated the dominance of Derrick Henry and his dominant 2,000-yard season.
With so many wrinkles to his offense and a very young secondary to plan against, Smith will be doing all he can to throw them off guard. Jonathan Gannon is more than aware of this, as he alluded to on Thursday.
And with that, he understands — in my opinion, one of the top five guys out there right now, he understands what motioning — not just to motion to say, ‘Well, they’re going to have to adjust to get what he needs to get for the quarterback before the ball is snapped.’
And he’s really good at — it’s not, like, fake motion. It’s, like, motion for a reason. So, he’s always done a good job with that. And it’s going to be a big-time challenge.
Perhaps most interestingly, Smith had been with the Titans since 2011 and has worked with some notable quarterback names. Ryan Tannehill is 18-8 since joining Tennessee, amassing 6,561 passing yards, 55 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a 67% completion percentage. That’s a big resurgence and could be a huge appeal for a team desperately looking to rebuild a broken quarterback. He now gets to work with one of the most renowned quarterbacks in the NFL – Matt Ryan. Gannon would also go on to mention how formidable the veteran still is.
Going against Matt Ryan, that’s a big-time challenge because there’s not a lot of looks that this guy hasn’t seen. There’s not a lot of coverage — there’s not any coverage that this guy hasn’t seen. And he’s got a very fast process, so that’s why he’s a top ten guy. And he has weapons.
With Kyle Pitts in the seam and Calvin Ridley on the outside, there’s no shortage of weapons for Ryan to utilize, but again, Gannon was quick to respect the level of both players, going on to call Ridley a top-10 receiver in the league.
I don’t know that yet. He’s definitely a top 10 guy. You know, I always look for the guys that can beat you vertically and horizontally. And he’s proven over the course of his career that he can do that.
And we were actually in Indy and we played Atlanta and we had our best cover guy on him on a third and five and, I mean, he beat him pretty good, you know?
And he’s a really good player and he’s a weapon that they have that they’re going to use. And we have to be aware how they’re deploying and using him.
While these comments are commonplace in the NFL, it’s encouraging to hear the level of respect he’s putting on some of the key names on the Falcons offense. It means that his team should be sufficiently prepared to handle whatever a very creative Head coach throws their way on Sunday.
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