Gannon responds to questions about historically bad pass defense


Justin Herbert on Sunday completed 32 of 38 passes, well over 80 percent.

That’s rare in the NFL.

It’s not so rare against the Eagles.

In fact, there have been 13 games in which a quarterback has attempted at least 25 passes and completed over 80% of them this season. Five of those games have been against the Eagles and all five have come in the past seven weeks.

“Yeah, that's what the numbers say,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said on Tuesday. “We definitely have to get that completion percentage down and there's a number of ways to do that. It starts with us, as coaches, to detail out some things and change some looks. And rush and cover, cover and rush have to get a little bit better.

“But when you're playing good quarterbacks with good skilled people – we played well at times, but probably not consistent enough. So, that number has to come down. We have to improve that with our pass defense to be able to provide some resistance to good offenses.”

Gannon is right that the quarterbacks who have completed over 80% of their passes against the Eagles are good. They’re very good.

But those players also aren’t dissecting the rest of their opponents in a similar manner. Just check out their completion percentages against the Eagles vs. their completion percentages in their other games.

Dak Prescott: 80.77% vs. Eagles — 68.12% in other games

Patrick Mahomes: 80.00% vs. Eagles — 63.86% in other games

Tom Brady: 80.95% vs. Eagles — 63.45% in other games

Derek Carr: 91.18% vs. Eagles — 64.39% in other games

Justin Herbert: 84.21% vs. Eagles — 63.70% in other games

“I wouldn't say (it is) alarming to me,” Gannon said. “I would say that we know the areas that we have to get better at, and we've done that at times. We just have to be a little more consistent.

“It really, though, again it starts with us setting it up a little bit better, how I call the game a little bit better at some certain spots where you can throw a wrench into what the quarterback is seeing or when they call certain plays, you'd like to be in a couple better calls here or there. But, ultimately, it's about all of us just improving and being a little more consistent.”

Gannon continues to say that he knows where the Eagles need to get better but against top competition, the same issues arise. Now, the biggest issue with the Eagles’ defense is a lack of talent, which starts with poor drafting. But it’s Gannon’s job to get the most out of his unit. And in these five games — all losses — that hasn’t happened.

During his time as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, Gannon has made it very clear that he wants to limit explosive plays. At times, his entire defense is predicated on that thought, which is a valid one.

“The quickest way to get beat is get the ball thrown over your head,” Gannon said on Tuesday.

But in these games, the Eagles have limited big plays but they didn’t make any big plays of their own. And with how accurate some NFL quarterbacks are, they can slice and dice a defense up and down the field.

The good news for the Eagles is aside from their Week 18 home game against the Cowboys — who might not have anything to play for by that point — they won’t face any more elite quarterbacks this season.

Instead, they’ll see Teddy Bridgewater, Trevor Siemian, Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson and Tyler Heinicke.

Gannon’s defense against lesser quarterbacks hasn’t been a problem. They’ve played well against Matt Ryan, Jimmy Garoppolo, Sam Darnold and Jared Goff.

So maybe the Eagles’ defense will simply turn things around now that they’ve gotten through the toughest quarterbacks on their schedule. But the fact that these five games happened and Gannon wasn’t able to plug the leaks is still troubling.

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