Philadelphia Eagles Jonathan Gannon, Fletcher Cox Needed a Game Like Monday night
PHILADELPHIA — Villagers had started to pull pitchforks out of their basements and garages, and were now using them as torchlights. They were getting ready to march down Broad Street towards the Eagles’ training facility in South Philly.
They were looking for Jonathan Gannon.
And if Fletcher Cox was collateral damage along the way, then so be it, because Cox drew some ire in the days leading up to Monday night’s home opener against the Minnesota Vikings, with many saying the 31-year-old was physically cooked.
Not so fast.
The Eagles’ young defensive coordinator and their veteran lineman had to play like Monday night in order to make them reconsider.
Cox kept the game moving all night.
He participated in a sack for the second consecutive week. He didn’t have the same responsibility as Brandon Graham last week in Detroit. He had three tackles, and helped to clog any running lanes Vikings’ RB Dalvin Cook hoped to see.
” We hear all the naysayers and doubters, but we see what we do every day in practice,” said Cox.
What Eagles supporters see is the 35 points that the Lions hung onto them last week. They see a defense that deploys personnel that doesn’t seem to play to its strengths.
What Eagles fans want is what they got from Gannon in the 24-7 win.
Gannon escalated the blitz.
Against the Lions, he blitzed 15 percent of the time. He blitzed 33 percent of Minnesota’s offensive snaps against the Vikings and more than doubled his efficiency.
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The rush didn’t always get home, but Kirk Cousins was impacted. He threw three picks from Darius Slay and did go down twice. Josh Sweat also recorded his first QB takedown for the season.
“I understand, but as we were speaking in a group our first game was on the unit,” Slay said when asked if he knew about the heat Ganon was taking following last week’s game.
” We didn’t tackle well, and we didn’t execute very well. This is partly due to pre-season, but it is not an excuse. Gannon is not out there playing, he is giving us the calls. It is up to us to execute it. We just couldn’t make it work. He was in some great situations.
“But, Monday night, we were on the opposite side. We were determined to dominate the game and show our talent with a lot more effort. The guys were doing their jobs. This is what we do. Coach put us in a great place to win .”
Gannon did a good job.
He used a single-high safety view at times and two safety eyes, then deployed them in different ways every time.
He brought several of his cornerbacks closer towards the line of scrimmage.
They were so close that they could have told Gene Hackman, in the movie ‘Hoosiers’, what kind of gum Vikings receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen used. Osborn was chewing gum, or even if they were actually chewing any gum.
” We got his back through the good and the ugly,” stated Cox of Gannon. “Not every game will be perfect. Some games will be close, others will be perfect.
” The most important thing is that he knows he has our backs. He calls the game and we have to go out and make the plays.”
Early last year, Cox and Gannon didn’t see eye-to-eye.
This is Cox’s defense of his DC.
So, put down the pitchforks and torchlights – at least for a week.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Fan Nation Eagles Today and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglesmaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.