Much has been said about the Eagles this offseason Howie’s aggressive approach to balancing a win-now mentality while giving himself enough future draft capital to stock up on young talent has given the Birds a very dangerous-looking roster. On the defensive side of things, however, it’s coordinator Jonathan Gannon who may be under the most pressure.
Jonathan Gannon’s first year as defensive coordinator
2021 was a mixed bag for the Eagles defense. The season started off in concerning fashion, with locker room leader, Fletcher Cox, making his feelings about the new scheme very clear. We were used to seeing the Birds get after the QB and instead, we were treated to images of defensive tackles sprinting into coverage.
Then, as the year went on, it became apparent that any quarterback who was even remotely competent could pick apart the defense for fun. Yes, the Eagles defense heated up down the stretch, but they played the Broncos, the Giants twice, Washington twice, and the Jets. Hardly anyone noteworthy. Meanwhile, against stronger QB’s, things often took a turn for the worst:
|Quarterback||Passer rating vs Eagles|
|Dak Prescott (first game)||143.3|
|Tom Brady (playoff loss)||115.2|
|Tom Brady (week 6)||102.1|
The Eagles had a sack rate of under 5%, ranking 31st in the NFL. However, they still averagred around 11 QB pressures per game, ranking 3rd in the NFL. They barely blitzed at all, yet were able to get a barrage of pressure on opposing QB’s. So why didn’t it translate into production?
Howie Roseman changes the game
One could say it was simply due to the fact that the Eagles lacked the necessary personnel to execute Jonathan Gannon’s scheme, but a good coordinator bends his scheme around his players. Either way, Howie Roseman went out and drafted a stalwart on the defensive front in Jordan Davis, signed a dominant corner in James Bradberry, and solidified the linebacking corps with Nakobe Dean, who should’ve been a first-round pick.
So we now go into year two. A year where the Eagles are stacked with defensive talent and a year where the offense looks like it could well become one of the league’s top units. It’s absolutely crucial that the days of one unit thriving while another is barely surviving come to an end.
Jonathan Gannon has no reason not to turn QB pressures into sacks. There is no excuse to give decent QB’s the easiest day at the office possible. The defense should not be gashed time and time again by the simplest of passing concepts.
Gannon’s defense showed signs of promise in 2021, much like the offense. Roseman doubled down on his defensive coordinator and gave him a core worth salivating over. If the results don’t change in 2022, some serious questions will have to be asked, as the esteemed Eagles GM cannot afford to let a unit that strong waste away.
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