Every year an Eagles defense plays at a subpar level, fans are always quick to point the finger at the defensive coordinator. Whether it was Jim Schwartz, or Sean McDermott before him, the Eagles defensive coordinator has been the ultimate scapegoat in this town.
This year has been no different. Following Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay, one of the main talking points on Eagles Twitter was the status of Jonathan Gannon moving forward. Numerous fans and pundits have welcomed a change at defensive coordinator for months now. After giving up 31 points in a playoff game, this narrative was bound to continue.
Just type in “fire Jonathan Gannon” on Twitter and scroll. Spoiler: it never ends. People hate this guy, but why?
His defense finished the year 10th in total defense, 11th against the pass, and ninth against the run. In his first year as a defensive coordinator, that’s not too shabby. If you look at the personnel he was dealt, posting those kinds of numbers is even more astounding.
He had one Pro Browler on his defense, Darius Slay. Two promising young players, Josh Sweat and T.J. Edwards. And the rest of the defense was made up of special teams players and washed up veterans.
I get it, the Eagles defense wasn’t as great as some hoped it’d be. But don’t take your frustrations out on the guy who overachieved, take it out on the subpar personnel. According to Pro Football Focus, only one of the Eagles defenders ranked inside the top-10 at their position, Darius Slay. T.J. Edwards, Avonte Maddox, and Josh Sweat ranked inside the top-25 at their respective positions. As for everyone else, they were either below average or a complete liability.
Yet, Gannon still led this group to a top-10 outing this season.
Fans can complain all they want about his scheme, calling for more man coverage and more blitzing. To those fans, do you really think this defense would have been better if Steven Nelson and Avonte Maddox were on islands all season in coverage? Do you really think Alex Singleton would have made a big impact blitzing every other down?
Considering Nelson surrendered 44 receptions on 64 targets for 553 yards and four touchdowns this year, and that Singleton only tallied three quarterback hits on the year, it probably wouldn’t have played out that well.
Don’t get me wrong, the Eagles defense needs some work this offseason. But on the personnel level, not the coaching level. If we’re going to judge Gannon after one year with bad personnel at every level, the objective take would be that he overachieved. Not that he should be fired.