Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of a defensive coordinator in Philadelphia. It’s a tough job to handle considering the legends who have worn the headset in previous years, guys like Jim Johnson, Bud Carson, Emmitt Thomas, Jeff Fisher, Wade Phillips, Jim Schwartz, not to mention Buddy Ryan.
The current punching bag is Jonathan Gannon who has been amazing through the lens of measurable statistics. However, the 39-year-old Ohio native has caught criticism over his ambiguous scheme and inability to stuff the run. The Philadelphia Eagles defense ranks No. 4 in DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) this season while limiting opponents to 18.3 points per game, seventh-best in the NFL.
That’s impressive. Yet it’s easy to paint Gannon as the scapegoat when the offense is staking huge first-half leads and then going stagnant. If you enjoy doing that, it’s only fair to praise him when the defense keeps the Eagles in a game they had no business winning. For example, Sunday’s 17-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11.
Eagles’ fans can’t help themselves when it comes to critiquing defense. They have seen so many dominant ones over the years after all. Head coach Nick Sirianni felt the need to clear the air about Gannon, especially after a misguided poll on SportsRadio 94WIP questioned Gannon’s job security. Sirianni defended Gannon on his weekly call-in appearance on the station.
“I stuck up for him because I believe in Jonathan Gannon,” Sirianni told reporters. “He’s a great football coach, and you have continued to see the defenses get better and better and better as he’s been here. I get it, we all get it, we’re in a week-to-week league when it comes to some of these things, right? We know that after a bad performance they’re going to be calling for us. After a good performance, right, whatever. So, we understand the waves of the season.”
Gannon Reacts to ‘Assistant Coach of the Year’ Campaign
Sirianni not only called into SportsRadio 94WIP to stick up for his defensive coordinator, but he put him into an elite conversation. He proposed that Gannon should be a candidate for the NFL’s Assistant Coach of the Year award.
Is that a thing? No, it isn’t a thing. Still, the faith and trust between the two coaches remains stronger than ever. On Tuesday, Gannon responded to Sirianni’s comments and quickly cited the 9-1 record as all the proof anyone needs that the Eagles don’t need to make any drastic changes.
“I’m glad I didn’t hear that. What’s our record now, 9-1? That’s how I base it,” Gannon told reporters. “Are we doing enough to give ourselves a chance to win games, and I think we can definitely get better at that, and as the year goes on, we’ve got to keep playing really good, clean football on defense to give ourselves a chance to win.
“I don’t look at it as a whole right now. I’m focused on Green Bay. But the goal of every week is let’s play good enough on defense to give ourselves a chance to win, and I think for the most part, we’ve done that.”
Lane Johnson Nominated for Art Rooney Award
Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson is one of 32 NFL players nominated for the 2022 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. The annual accolade is given to the person who best “demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition,” according to a press release.
Johnson overcame a lot of adversity last season during a highly publicized battle with depression and anxiety. He returned stronger for it, never more beloved or respected in the Eagles’ locker room.
“It just speaks so much to who Lane is,” Sirianni said. “Not only the best tackle in this game, but also just a phenomenal leader, a phenomenal teammate, a phenomenal person.”