Many Eagles fans shedding no tears for Gannon’s departure

by Marc Narducci | Feb 22, 2023
Many Eagles fans shedding no tears for Gannon’s departure
There may not be a more unpopular person in the Philadelphia sports world these days than former Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. It isn’t difficult finding fans that put the brunt of the blame on Gannon for the Eagles 38-35 Super Bowl loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Things are never that simple. A team needs an entire group of players and coaches to either win or lose.
Did Gannon contribute to the loss?
No question, that he did plenty of good in his brief two-year tenure. He just had the misfortune of laying a clunker in his final game, the biggest of his career.
In his two years, the biggest criticism of Gannon is that he likes to use a bend-but-not-break defense, one that didn’t want to give up the big play but allowed plenty of little ones.
How effective was Chiefs’ QB Patrick Mahones in the second half?
He completed 13 of 14 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns.
That’s right, just one incomplete pass as he led the Chiefs back from a 24-14 halftime deficit.
In fairness to Gannon, the Eagles defense allowed 31 points, not 38 points, because of Kansas City’s fumble return for a touchdown by Nick Bolton. And one of the Chiefs’ drives began on the Eagles’ 5-yard line after Kadaius Toney’s 65-yard punt return.

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Still, the Chiefs scored on all four of their second-half possessions, three touchdowns and then the game-winning 27-yard field goal by Harrison Butker. (There would have been a fourth TD, but Chiefs running back Jerick McKinnon decided to go down at the two-yard line on the final drive following a 9-yard gain in order to run down the clock.).
It’s not only that the Chiefs scored at will in the second half, but two of the touchdowns were wide-open completions to Toney and Skyy Moore of five and four yards respectively.
Those who suggested that Chiefs head coach Andy Reid coached circles around Gannon weren’t wrong.
The knock on Gannon in his two years is that he struggled against elite quarterbacks.
Last year the Eagles were schooled in losses against Mahomes, Tom Brady and Tampa Bay (twice) and Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers, to name a few. (We’re not counting the 51 points the Eagles allowed against Dak Prescott and Dallas in the final game of the 2021 regular season because the Eagles were resting their regulars).
This year it could be argued that Mahones was the only great quarterback the Eagles faced. (They beat Aaron Rodgers, who had a dreadful season and lost to Prescott, who in our opinion isn’t in the elite category).
There was plenty of good done by Gannon’s unit over his two seasons, including this year when the Eagles had 70 regular season sacks and eight more in the postseason (but none in the Super Bowl).
Many Eagles diehards are trying to blame in no particular order for the loss – Gannon, the field, the final holding call and then the defense.
We’re not buying the field or the official’s holding call on James Bradberry, who said after the game he held JuJu Smith-Schuster. One argument against the holding call is that worse than that were not called. Still, it was a hold.
The field was bad for both teams as Eagles GM Howie Roseman said.
The defensive effort was a major reason and the players deserve a large portion of the blame, whether the field conditions were good or not.
Gannon doesn’t escape blame, it’s just that there should be plenty to go around, including a special teams hiccup on Toney’s long punt return. That shouldn’t be surprising considering the problems of the special teams all season.
Making one person like Gannon the scapegoat is too much piling on. Assigning him part of the blame is certainly justified.
His unit was outmaneuvered by Mahomes and Reid with clinical precision in the second half. It is a game that will always be a scar on his resume, no matter how he fares as a head coach.

Author: Marc Narducci


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