The Philadelphia Eagles had one of the best defenses in the league under former defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. But with a new lead comes new woes, and the team could be in trouble.
IS THE EAGLES’ DEFENSE TO BLAME FOR OUR LOSING STREAK?
In the Eagles’ last two games against the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs, the defense allowed 83 points. With the exception of Javon Hargrave, the remainder of the defense has been subpar, as some of the Eagles’ best players struggle to make a stat.
Following Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs, league sources stated that head coach Nick Sirianni had a heated meeting with the defensive coaching staff, specifically targeting Jonathan Gannon. According to Marcus Hayes of The Inquirer, “Sirianni is frustrated at Gannon’s toothless, amorphous scheme; Gannon’s timid calls; and Gannon’s poor utilization of star players like defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Darius Slay.”
Gannon responded, “I don’t have a scheme. Our scheme should be to put our 11 guys on the field in the best position possible to succeed.”
However, to succeed, there can’t be a disconnect, and at the moment, there is.
Gannon’s coaching style involves versatile players who can adjust based on the opposing offense and play new roles from week to week. But new positions may be difficult for some veteran players who are used to playing in a particular way.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox stated, “I mean scheme-wise, some things are different. Last year I was able to kind of run off the ball a little bit. More than what we’re doing now. We’re playing a different style of defense. Two different coordinators. Now you see me sometimes in a 4 (technique), so that’s a big difference for me. It’s hard to get settled into a game when you’re playing so many positions and doing so many things.”
Cox, a six-time Pro Bowler, has had zero sacks and zero tackles for losses this season.
WHAT’S THE DEFENSE’S SOLUTION?
Gannon has been basing the defense’s success on accomplishing three objectives that he wouldn’t reveal.
He stated, “I think we’re all pissed off about the last two games. We haven’t played great on defense. That’s evident. And that starts with me and starts with the coaches. So, it always comes down to self-evaluation, ‘Hey, what can we do to help our players? What did we say the three things are to win this game? Did we get those three things done?’”
“And the last two weeks, we have not done that. So, you look at – if we get these three things done, are we putting ourselves in a position to win the game? You look at those first. The three things we said, are they the right things? Then from there, you look at the execution and what we’re asking our players to do and how can we help them and serve them better to put them in better spots. And that starts with me, to the coaches, right down to the players.”
Though fans may never know Gannon’s three objectives, what they do know is that sometimes you don’t fix what’s not broken. Overall, the Eagles’ defense has the potential to be great. Gannon’s best solution is to take what works best for each player and use it to his advantage. Tweaking things from week to week isn’t a terrible idea, but some form of consistency must remain.
Javon Hargrave stated, “We got a beatdown Sunday (against Kansas City), so everybody’s definitely motivated to kind of turn that perspective around and get back to work against Carolina. Playing in the NFL, a lot of people have experienced this before. When I was in Pittsburgh or even sometimes last year, we went through this, and it’s just more so what are you going to do to turn it around?”
In four games, Hargrave already has 24 total tackles, five sacks, and seven quarterback hits.
He and the rest of the defense will undoubtedly look to turn things around tomorrow, October 10. The Eagles are on the road again against the Carolina Panthers, who are 3-1.