Newly-minted head coach Nick Sirianni isn’t wasting any time putting together his new staff. The Eagles have reportedly hired Indianapolis Colts’ defensive backs coach Jonathan Gannon as their new defensive coordinator.
It certainly doesn’t appear that Eagles’ management has played any part in determining Sirianni’s staff, like they often did with Doug Pederson.
Sirianni has worked with both Gannon and Steichen for extended periods of time. Sirianni overlapped with Steichen from 2014 to 2017. Meanwhile, he’s been with Gannon for the past three years.
The two coordinators both have strengths in places that the Eagles struggled mightily in during the past season, and their prior success should have fans feeling more confident for the future.
Steichen Could Help Eagles’ Poor QB Play
Most of Steichen’s time coaching in the last decade has been spent with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers, where he’s been since 2011 save for one year (he spent 2013 in Cleveland).
After various assistant and quality control roles, Steichen was elevated to quarterbacks coach, where he served from 2016-2019.
In 2019, Steichen was promoted to interim offensive coordinator mid-season, and then took on the role full-time in 2020.
Under Steichen this past season, the Chargers averaged 382.1 net yards/game and had 6,113 total yards.
The hire certainly looks like a solid move from a quarterback perspective after his work with Justin Herbert, who had a terrific season rookie where he threw for 31 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions.
Philip Rivers also performed well during Steichen’s time as QB coach. From 2016 to 2018, Rivers went to three straight Pro Bowls and had a rating of 96.1 over that span.
It’s not all positivity for Steichen, however. Discussing the possibility of the Chargers retaining Steichen for 2021, The Orange County Register’s Gilbert Manzano had this to say:
“Steichen was criticized at times for conservative play-calling in 2020 and had two embarrassing moments when he called running plays in hurry-up situations without a timeout.”
A conservative approach would be a drastic change after Doug Pederson’s aggressive style of playcalling, as would heavily leaning on the run.
However, with Sirianni likely calling the plays, Steichen’s flaws may not be as obvious with the Eagles.
Gannon Applauded For Player Development
The raiding of the Colts continues with the hire of Gannon, whose experience in the NFL spans 14 years. Gannon spent time in defensive assistant roles for the Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans before landing the Colts’ DB coach position in 2018.
This will be Gannon’s first time calling defensive plays. The last time the Eagles had a DC who hadn’t had prior coordinator experience was Juan Castillo in 2012.
Indianapolis trots out a 4-3 defense, so there’s no reason to think the Eagles will be experiencing a scheme change.
The biggest reason to be excited about this move is Gannon’s ability to help players develop.
Meanwhile, cornerback Xavier Rhodes had a very impressive bounceback season for Indy. Gannon played a huge role in bringing Rhodes to the Colts and helping him improve:
Gannon's one of the Colts' most respected position coaches, and was key in recruiting Xavier Rhodes to Indy and helping him to his best season in years. Been told Gannon has the makings of future DC for years. https://t.co/ROTCrZdLIV
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) January 18, 2021
There’s no question Jim Schwartz was a very solid coordinator whose defenses came up clutch when they needed to, but development from newcomers often felt scarce.
Howie Roseman is rightfully criticized often for his lack of drafting skills, but it can’t be just a coincidence that players like Rasul Douglas, L.J. Fort, Sydney Jones, and Will Park experience decent success after leaving the Eagles.
The Birds are entering a period where rebuilding will trump win-now moves. Building up young talent, whether they’re first or seventh rounders, will be crucial.
Hiring a potential long-term DC who specializes in that is a step in the right direction.
Other Personnel Moves You May Have Missed
- After expressing a desire to leave the organization, Duce Staley is heading to Detroit to become the Lions’ running backs coach, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects locker room morale. Here’s hoping he finds the growth opportunity he’s always wanted.
- Eagles’ tight ends coach Justin Peelle has left to join the Atlanta Falcons for the same role, per The Athletic’s Bo Wulf. Peelle had been the TE coach for Philadelphia since 2015 and saw Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert take major strides.
- Wulf also reported the Eagles will allow special teams coordinator Dave Fipp to look for other opportunities in the league. Once a strength of the Eagles, STs has since become a disappointing area. Perhaps a change would be best for everyone.
- The Eagles won’t be retaining quarterback coach/passing game coordinator Press Taylor, as reported by NJ.com’s Mike Kaye. Taylor had been Pederson’s choice for the Eagles’ next OC, which is probably a reason for his firing. Taylor just oversaw a horrendous, drama-filled QB regression. Smart and easy decision to move on.
- It’s not all staff subtractions. The Eagles hired Colts pass game specialist Kevin Patullo as passing games coordinator, per Pelissero. Additionally, Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported that Philadelphia is zoning in on Auburn’s Tracy Rocker for defensive line coach.