Coming off yet another embarrassing loss, this time at the hands of Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders, it appears some of the Philadelphia Eagles‘ more tenured players are starting to get fed up with the team’s lackluster coaching staff.
More specifically, it’s the team’s new defensive coordinator, Jonathan Gannon, who’s found himself in the hot set. Hired away from the Indianapolis Colts this past offseason to transform the Eagles’ defensive into a versatile turnover-generating machine, Gannon is making a fool of himself week after week.
Gannon’s game plan against Derek Carr was the worst yet
Gannon has looked pretty miserable at times this year. Allowing 40-plus points in back-to-back weeks against the Dallas Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs was a major low point for the Eagles’ defense. However, his performance against Carr and the Raiders’ offense took things to a whole new low.
Carr completed 31 passes on 34 attempts against Philadelphia during their Week 7 showdown. Yes, you read that correctly. The Eagles’ defense only forced three incompletions the entire game. Carr had an absolute field day sitting comfortably in the pocket, picking apart Philly’s overmatched linebackers and safeties.
To put things into further perspective, Carr’s 91.2 completion percentage against the Eagles is the second-highest in NFL history from a QB who passed at least 30 times. It was a laughably bad performance from Gannon’s defense, one that has veterans on the team voicing up about the team’s scheme.
Eagles DT Fletcher Cox is speaking up
Following the loss, Fletcher Cox — who’s been with the Eagles since 2012 — decided to speak up about the state of the team’s defense. Cox has expressed frustration with his role a few times this year. However, this is the first time he notably put Gannon on blast.
“It’s honestly not what it’s been,” Cox said. “Just gotta play what’s being called. When you’re so used to playing so aggressive the last however many years I’ve been playing, it’s just changed. You can’t be as aggressive. You gotta play what’s being called.”
“And when you get frustrated and get tired of 600, 700 pounds laying on you, you want to do something about it. Obviously, being the player I am, I can only take so much, and I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to be aggressive.”
Needless to say, Cox isn’t happy with his new role under Gannon. He doesn’t believe he’s allowed to play as aggressively, and it’s hard to disagree based on the Eagles’ lackluster results through seven weeks.
The Eagles need to change their defensive philosophy
The Eagles’ previous defensive coordinator, Jim Schwartz, received a ton of criticism for how he ran the defense. However, Philadelphia is starting to figure out that Schwartz was doing a better job than he was credited for in hindsight. The Eagles’ defense was always steady under Schwartz. It never bottomed out like it is under Gannon.
For the Eagles’ defense to turn things around, two things need to happen. First, the front office (led by controversial GM Howie Roseman) needs to invest in the linebacker and safety positions. The Eagles have been cutting corners at these two position groups for years, and it’s finally catching up to them.
Second, Gannon needs to adapt or be replaced. He has a few good defensive players in Fletcher Cox and Josh Sweat, and thus far, he’s proven incapable of getting the most out of them. That needs to change if he’s going to survive in Philadelphia.
These aren’t issues the Eagles can fix in the middle of a season. Change needs to occur in the offseason. However, Cox speaking up the way he did should at least send a major warning sign to Gannon.
The first-year defensive coordinator needs to get his act together if he wants to avoid being flat-out fired.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.