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December 06, 2022

What they're saying about the Eagles: Jonathan Gannon's defense is extremely underrated

Eagles NFL

The Eagles dismantled the Titans and their elite running back Derrick Henry on Sunday. 

They're 11-1 with the top seed in the NFC. Jalen Hurts, on the ground and through the air, is playing like a serious MVP candidate. A.J. Brown is catching everything and DeVonta Smith is becoming one of the NFL's best route runners. 

And Jonathan Gannon's defense, even though it often doesn't look it, has actually been pretty stifling if you can believe it.

The Eagles have been beating nearly everyone, doing it in different ways, and after taking down what was supposed to be their toughest matchup all season in a thoroughly convincing fashion, probably won't be slowing down any time soon. 

ESPN's Power Index doesn't like the Eagles too much, but a lot of people sure do. 

Here's what they're saying about the Eagles, starting with that defense...

Looks can be deceiving

Jeff Kerr | CBS Sports

You're not alone if you've been left frustrated from watching the Eagles' defense at multiple points this season. 

Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has become a rather polarizing figure around town because of his passive approach to the trenches and willingness to give up yards underneath. 

It isn't exactly fun to watch, yet the Eagles always seem to get that big stop or turnover when they need it to win in the end. Then you look at the stats like these and wonder what game you were even watching

In fairness, the Eagles' defense has looked much better once Ndamukong Suh and Linval Joseph joined up front, but the playcalling and approach still run in stark contrast to the aggressive styles fans have been sort of conditioned to wanting from all of those punishing Jim Johnson defenses from the past. 

It's working though, even if it may not always look like it. 

A complete team and a dangerous one

Mark Schofield | SB Nation

The Eagles ran the Packers into the ground then put an air raid on the Titans a week later.

Jalen Hurts and his number of weapons are versatile, adaptable too. 

They can totally flip the script on a defense in a matter of days and, as the last two weeks have shown, do it with effortless-looking efficiency. 

They're one of, maybe THE most, complete offenses in the NFL right now, and that should scare the rest of the league, writes Mark Schofield

Prior to their meeting, the Packers were one of the least efficient run defenses in the league, while sitting around league average in terms of defending the pass.

So what did the Eagles do? They leaned into the run game, and put up huge numbers.

Then yesterday, against a team that was one of the top run defenses in the league, they leaned into the passing game. After running it 49 times against the Packers, with just 28 passing attempts, the Eagles completely flipped the script the following week. Philadelphia attempted just 24 running plays on Sunday against the Titans, while Hurts and Gardner Minshew combined for 41 passing attempts.

...

Philadelphia is a complete team on offense.

And a dangerous one. [SB Nation]

For the record, that's what I'm saying too

Without the PR Machine

Colin Cowherd | The Herd (FOX Sports)

Colin Cowherd admitted to being a Jalen Hurts doubter on his show Monday, but he was more than willing to give credit where credit was deservedly due. 

When the Eagles needed to take over through the air against the Titans Sunday, Hurts more than answered the call with his arm. 

He's answered every bell, in fact. 

Said Cowherd: 

"That's the question, can Jalen Hurts, if the run game slows down, carry you? The answer is yes. Jalen Hurts is Dak without the PR machine behind him. Dak has been a star since his first preseason game in Los Angeles. I can remember saying 'Slow down, it's the preseason.' Day 1, Dak was a star. Day 1, we've doubted Jalen Hurts. He had to transfer from Alabama, he went in the second round, right? And then we doubted 'Too small, can't throw.' Dak has a ceiling...I know what Dak is and I know what he's not. I don't know what Jalen Hurts is not, because every time anybody questions him, he answers the bell.

...

"On the biggest stages when he has been asked to carry the team, he has exploded. He is Dak without the PR machine, love, and media attention. All we've done is elevate Dak. 'He's this, he's that.' All we've done with Jalen Hurts is doubt him. He hasn't had continuity, he hasn't had the right coaches, he had to transfer in college, but I sat and watched that Tennessee game yesterday and this kid is just 300 yards waiting to happen." [FOX Sports]

The best team. The strongest argument.

Ross Tucker | Dan Patrick Show

Who's the best team in the NFL right now? After Sunday's win over Tennessee, analyst Ross Tucker, appearing on the Dan Patrick Show, said Eagles without hesitation.

"I think it's the Philadelphia Eagles, Dan, and I think it's hard to make an argument otherwise at this point. That was an epic beatdown of a Tennessee Titans team that never loses two games in a row, that I have a tremendous amount of respect for, my former teammate Mike Vrabel as the head coach. You know the Titans are tough, you know they're gonna be in every game, they weren't at all. The Eagles totally dominated them up front on both sides of the ball, and if they want to run for 350 yards, they did that against the Packers. Want to throw for 350 yards? They did that against the Titans. Now they have six d-tackles, a bunch of d-linemen getting after Tannehill, even their special teams were better. I think Jalen Hurts is probably at this point the MVP of the league, which is wild to even say. I think right now it's the Philadelphia Eagles. I think  they have, by far, the strongest argument." [Dan Patrick Show]


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