Eagles Super Bowl Hero Dodges Question on Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon

Brandon Graham

Getty Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham didn't criticize defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon for the team's performance last week, but he didn't sing his praises either.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon found himself quickly on the hot seat among the fans and media after giving up 35 points to the Lions in a season-opening victory, but defensive end Brandon Graham didn’t take the bait on criticizing his coach. On the other hand, he didn’t give him a ringing endorsement, either.

The question came in from veteran beat reporter Les Bowen, asking what Graham made of the way Gannon deployed his players. Graham went into great detail in his response, but never mentioned Gannon.

“If it was good and then the next game it wasn’t, we’d be going backwards. As long as we just keep trending upward, that’s all I really care about, because you know how it go, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Graham said in front of his locker on September 15. “We want to make sure we’re trending in the right way. I know we’ve got some issues, and I know for us we know how good we can be, but we see we’ve got to work hard on certain stuff if we want to be great. Missing tackles, stuff that we can control, we trying to just take care of those.”

Graham continued his response that laid the blame at the feet of the players, but without explicitly endorsing the performance by Gannon.

“Sometimes people don’t make good plays here and there, but we just try to make sure that we take care of our business as far as you do your job, I do mine, we meet in the middle by making sure we get numbers to the ball,” Graham concluded.

Now, it’s a little different reading the tea leaves on a response by a player than a coach, general manager, or owner – all of whom likely put more thought into the exact words they choose. Still, Graham is a veteran and he took a direct question about Gannon then didn’t mention him in the response. It’s worth keeping an eye on.

Fellow pass rusher Haason Reddick cautioned anyone and everyone about overreacting to a single game. “Nobody should be alarmed about anything in Week 1,” Reddick explained to the media on September 15. “It’s Week 1, it’s the first real action, it’s a lot of things that goes into it. You can tell how good a team is by what they correct from Week 1 to Week 2. Right now all that we’re focusing on is being better than we were last week and fixing the things that we did wrong last week.”

Haason Reddick Believes He Got Enough Opportunities to Rush the Passer

One area of criticism of Gannon was that he dropped Reddick into coverage too often, instead of unleashing him to get after the quarterback. Reddick was relatively unproductive the first three years of his career, when he was used as a versatile linebacker.

In 2020, the Cardinals let him rush the passer more and he exploded with 12.5 sacks. Last year with the Panthers, he followed that up with 11 sacks. All 11 came lined up on the line of scrimmage as an upright passer.

When asked whether he got enough chances to get after the quarterback last week, Reddick gave it a brief moment of thought before answering.

“I believe so man, I had some key gap rushes that I could have hit that I felt like would have changed the game, I just didn’t see them,” Reddick said of his performance. “But now that I’m thinking about it, you know, I’ll be more conscious of it and put it into my pass rush game.”

Reddick Wants to Play Up to His Standard

Reddick spent some of his time with the media talking about his standard of play, which he described as being higher than that of any fans or coaches.

“I mean there were some things that I did good, there were some things that I wish I would have saw, I felt like I left like three plays out there that could have affected the game,” Reddick said. “Just Week 1 man, now it’s time to get settled down, start correcting the small details, and small minor mistakes, start playing football that’s closer to the standard. Closer to our standard.”

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