Upon hire, the Eagles liked Jonathan Gannon for his potential with defensive backs and match-up-based mentality. He was crucial in the shaping of Xavier Rhodes in Indianapolis, with who he previously had a great rapport within Minnesota.
In his inaugural season as the defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles, he raised many questions. The aggression he was rumored to bring to the table rarely showed, especially against better offensive talent.
Gannon’s complacent, (bend, don’t break defense) failed
In 2021, the Eagles defensive scheme rarely called for blitzes and allowed better quarterbacks to complete at least 80 percent of their passes.
- Because he didn’t blitz, opposing quarterbacks had no problems dinking and dunking their way down the field to score.
- They were near the bottom of the league in 3rd down, red zone defense, and takeaways.
- Many would argue Gannon didn’t have the personnel for more defensive aggression, but the narrative is set that he can only scheme against subpar quarterbacks.
- However, the Eagles also lacked a dominant presence at both the safety and linebacker positions.
Opposing offensive coaches and players even implied that they knew what the Eagles defense was going to do because the Gannon defense and its playbook lacked creativity.
But, it wasn’t all bad, as the Eagles defense did allow opponents to 20 points or fewer in 9 of their games, which proved crucial in the team making the postseason. They also allowed the fourth-fewest explosive plays.
This showed Gannon’s ability to adjust late in the season, something past defensive coordinators (Billy Davis, Juan Castillo) did not show.
Here they come to save the day!
Luckily for Gannon, 2022 Eagles reinforcements have arrived with even more skill, versatility, and of course, potential. Thanks to Howie Roseman, Gannon has some new toys. He has acquired players that can rush the passer, be active in gaps, and handle man coverage.
- The Eagles have added linebackers, Haason Reddick and Kyzir White
- Drafted linebacker Nakobe Dean
- Drafted defensive tackle Jordan Davis
- Signed cornerback James Bradberry
Defensive end Fletcher Cox will return for another season. Brandon Graham, who has played at a high level in recent seasons, will be returning from injury. Davion Taylor is receiving high praise and is expected to make a jump after an injury as well.
They have also added extra depth to cornerback, linebacker, defensive tackle, and safety in the undrafted free agent pool.
On paper, the 2022 Philadelphia Eagles roster is much stronger than last season. But we all know it takes more than that to succeed in this league.
Gannon’s new defense scheme? Versatility
What is interesting about the players the Eagles have acquired is that they show the versatility to show either 3-4 or 4-3 defenses.
- Back in a January interview, Gannon said “I don’t have a scheme” which indicates flexibility, so expect to see many different packages and looks.
- Then in a press conference at the end of May, Gannon reiterated that he won’t let this defense get pigeonholed into a category.
- He refuses to name the Eagles defense as a 3-4 or 4-3. He simply said his defense would be “versatile.”
With that said, all of the new additions do bring more versatility to this new Gannon defense, which should create more success.
- Haason Reddick has the ability to thrive as a pass rusher or a strong-side linebacker.
- Don’t be surprised to see more odd-man fronts with refreshed defensive ends and tackles in a heavy rotation.
- In that scenario, expect defensive tackle Jordan Davis to be the nose tackle on the center.
- This gives the defensive ends even more versatility to fill gaps and rush the passer.
- Drafting a linebacker like Nakobe Dean gives you that “side to side” presence.
- With more athletic linebackers like Kyzir White, the Eagles may see an improvement with their coverage on tight ends.
- Tackling was a huge issue for the Eagles in 2021 once opposing running backs passed the gaps.
- Dean and White are known for their superior tackling ability.
Pairing James Bradberry with Darius Slay at the corner allows the Eagles defense to successfully execute a cover 2 zone defense, which requires athleticism. This corner duo has the potential to execute successful man coverage.
Stop coaching scared, Jon!
Jonathan Gannon coached scared last season and it was painfully obvious. Many fans were hoping he landed one of the head coaching jobs he was up for during the offseason, but Gannon is getting his 2nd chance to win over the fans and his players.
Having upgraded personnel will allow Gannon to run the aggressive defense that fans have been calling for since the beginning of 2021. Will he do it? That remains to be seen.
Howie Roseman also added younger defensive players with potential, setting up for success in 2023 when players like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham potentially leave. With this much versatility on defense, there’s absolutely no reason not to explore new, more aggressive defensive schemes.
Gannon’s coaching style should change
In order to be successful in 2022, Jonathan Gannon needs to take advantage of his new talent and execute. He can’t sit back on the bare minimum as he did in 2021 and he needs to explore aggressive schemes that maximize the talent of his players.
- He has to prove he can rattle elite quarterbacks.
- Take advantage of a weak 2022 Eagles schedule.
- He has the depth and many interchangeable players that fit.
- He preaches hustle, intensity, takeaways, and smarts
- These are standards HIMSELF and the players will be held to.
- Gannon loves the east coast and the passion of Philadelphia fans, so on paper, there’s potential for a perfect marriage.
So it’s time to throw out that soft defensive playbook from last year, and bring back the smashmouth defensive style the Philadelphia Eagles are known for. Jim Johnson style.
You now have the goods, Jonathan Gannon.
Time’s yours. No excuses.