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September 11, 2023

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Week 2 edition

Eagles NFL
091123JonathanGannon2 Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

"Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner were in the closet making babies and I saw one of the babies and the baby looked at me," Jonathan Gannon says on the headset to quarterback Josh Dobbs.

Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books, so let's overreact! There's a lot of movement in our Hierarchy from Week 1 to Week 2.


16) Cardinals (0-1): Back in April, Jonathan Gannon did an interview in which he blatantly lied about a back-and-forth he had with the Philadelphia media during a press conference when the team was still undefeated during the 2022 regular season. A video clip of that interview: 

The above video, transcribed:

“I’m very comfortable talking to the media. Philly is a very hard media market. We were 9-0 and I did my presser and they said, ‘Coach, we want you fired.’ And I said, ‘We’re the number one defense in the NFL right now, in every statistical category, why do you want me fired?’ ‘You don’t blitz enough.’ I said, ‘Well we lead the league in sacks by thirty-plus sacks, so if you want to come call the defense, then you can have at it.' But it's cool. They have a job to do, and I understand that...”

091123GannonPantsOnFireJimmy/for PhillyVoice
That never happened, and Gannon was called out far and wide (like here, for example) for just completely making up that story.

In an article by Zak Keefer for The Athletic that was published a week ago, Gannon attempted to say that his made up story was "literally supposed to be a joke."

In front of Cardinals fans, Gannon alleged that during a news conference last season, the Philadelphia media made it known they wanted him fired for not blitzing enough. Truth told, that had never come up at a news conference.

“I regret that,” Gannon says flatly. “Mistake by me.”

He clarifies: He wasn’t referring to the beat reporters, but something he heard on a radio show his first year there. And, he adds, “it was literally supposed to be a joke.”

Lol. To begin, if it were a joke, Gannon wouldn't have concluded his story by saying, "They have a job to do, and I understand that...”

But also, within that story from the Athletic, Gannon also claimed that he hasn't listened to anything since the midpoint of the 2021 season.

Midway through his first year in Philadelphia, when the Eagles were struggling, he made a decision: He wouldn’t read or listen to anything.

Except, well, he sarcastically mimicked the criticism that he claims not to have listened to.

“I’m the reason we lost the Super Bowl,” he says, mimicking the criticism.

(Obviously, he was a huge reason the Eagles lost the Super Bowl, with salient points made here, here, here, and here, but whatever.)

So to summarize that particular lie cycle, Gannon made up a story about an interaction that never happened, then he lied about it being "a joke," and then he lied about not listening to outside criticisms, which he very clearly does.

He also lied about this:

It was a devastating finish to a staggering, 24-month revival. Seven games into the 2021 season, Nick Sirianni — the Eagles head coach who’d brought Gannon with him from Indianapolis — stormed into a meeting, venting about how he wasn’t sure he could call the offense and manage the game how he needed to. At that point, the Eagles were 2-5.

“So give the play-calling to Shane,” Gannon suggested, referring to offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.

“Well, they’re gonna look at me like I’m a failure,” Gannon remembers Sirianni saying.

“Who gives a f—?” Gannon replied. “We’re gonna get fired if we’re 3-14.”

A day after the story from The Athletic came out, Marcus Hayes of the Inquirer reported that the above story never happened. Not that Marcus needs me to vouch for him, but I can confirm that his report was accurate.

It's going to be hilarious when the Cardinals lose 15+ games and Caleb Williams decides he wants no part of that shitshow so he goes back to USC for his senior season.

Last week: 16


15) Giants (0-1): On their first drive of the game on Sunday Night Football against the Cowboys, the Giants got their run game going and were probably feeling pretty good.

• Saquon Barkley for 5.
• Daniel Jones for 8, plus an unnecessary roughness penalty tacked on.
• Jones pass to Barkley for 0.
• Barkley for 9.
• Barkley for 5.
• Matt Breida for 6.
• Jones for 11.
• Barkley for 0.
• Jones for 8.

That's when the Giants faced a 3rd and 2 from the Cowboys' 8 yard line. And then:

• False start, Andrew Thomas
• Then a bad snap that got away from Jones for a loss of 14.
• And then this:

From that point on, it was a complete and total disaster offensively for the Giants. Their next six possessions:

1) -10 yards, 3-and-out, including this sack:

2) -9 yards, including a sack, and this pick-six

3) 3 yards, 3-and-out

This was their third-best drive of the first half.

4) 1 play, INT

5) 15-play, 57-yard drive that ended with this:


6) -7 yards, booed off the field to close the first half

I wonder if this Giants season could look a little bit like their 2017 season. In 2016, coming off three straight losing seasons the Giants went 11-5 under a new head coach who got NFL Coach of the Year consideration in Ben McAdoo. In 2017, they came right back down to earth, and then some, when they went 3-13.

It seemed pretty clear that the Giants were facing some regression this season after making the playoffs despite a negative point differential, but I never envisioned them looking as weak and feeble as they did Sunday night.

Last week: 8


14) Bears (0-1): Like the Giants, the Bears were a team coming into 2023 with renewed enthusiasm from their fan base, and then... (fart noise).

Anyway, new Green Bay quarterback, same result.

Last week: 11


13) Panthers (0-1): Every year there's some team in the NFC that bores me and I just don't feel like thinking of something to write about them every week in the Hierarchy. The Panthers are that team this year.

Last week: 15


12) Vikings (0-1): "Kirk Cousins went 33 of 44 for 344 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT in a 20-17 loss" should go on Kirk Cousins' tombstone.

Last week: 9


11) Commanders (1-0): My NFC unimpressive win power rankings for Week 1:

  1. Commanders
  2. Saints
  3. Eagles

Since 2020, the Commanders lead the NFL in close wins over blatantly tanking teams.

Last week: 10


10) Buccaneers (1-0): This catch by Chris Godwin iced the game against the Vikings

A closer look: 

The Bucs have receivers. They don't have much else, but they do have receivers.

Last week: 13


9) Seahawks (0-1): The Seahawks came into the 2023 season with a fair amount of hype as the potential "surprise team that could maybe become a Super Bowl contender." (I'm guilty of that call.)

In Week 1 they got outgained 426-180 by the Rams.

Last week: 5


8) Rams (1-0): Maybe the Rams are that surprise team? They lost some good players this offseason and are rebuilding on the fly, but they are also only a season removed from winning the Super Bowl and they still have a very good quarterback in Matthew Stafford when he's healthy.

Last week: 14


7) Saints (1-0): The Saints out-field-goaled the Titans in the Who Cares Bowl.

Last week: 6


6) Falcons (1-0): The Falcons, as expected, were run-heavy Week 1, and the 1-2 duo of Tyler Allgeier and Bijon Robinson combined for 25 carries for 131 yards and 2 TDs on the ground, plus 9 catches on 9 targets for 46 yards and a TD. That's their identity, and when it works, they won't need Desmond Ridder to throw more than 20 times in games.

They're not going to be threatening in the postseason should they get that far, but they're probably going to consistently beat the bad teams they face, and they're going to face a lot of them.

Last week: 12


5) Packers (1-0): OK, Jordan Love.

Love this play. If you squint you can kinda see some Aaron Rodgers in him.

Last week: 7


4) Lions (1-0): In the NFL's opening game the Chiefs were without elite DT Chris Jones and star TE Travis Kelce, their second- and third-best players, in whatever order you prefer. Their receivers couldn't catch the football, and Andy Reid seemed to have lost his mind on some of the Chiefs' play calls in high leverage situations. 

If the Eagles got the A+ version of the Chiefs in the second half of the Super Bowl, the Lions got some sort of bastardized D- version last Thursday night. That's worth contextualizing when considering the Lions' place in the NFC Hierarchy.

That said, the Lions were the team on opening night that did not make "the big mistake," and some young players — notably DE Aidan Hutchinson, RB Jahmyr Gibbs, and DB Brian Branch — popped. Are the Lions a good team? That's still very much to be determined. However, what matters more is that after beating the defending champs in their building in front of the entire NFL world, there's little doubt that they now think they're good (if they didn't already), and having that confidence as a young team is a great thing.

Last week: 4


3) Eagles (1-0): A win is a win, and when you can get a win on the road against Bill Belichick that's nothing to sneeze at, but at the same time we can all acknowledge that the Eagles did not play a good football game on Sunday, right? 

Offensively, the Eagles gained a measly 251 yards, they were 4-for-14 on third and fourth down, they averaged just 4.1 yards per play, and they only had 17 first downs. In 2022, the Eagles averaged 386 yards per game, 5.8 yards per play, and 23 first downs per game.

Defensively, Patriots wide receivers and tight ends were getting wide open, and they found success in the short to intermediate parts of the field, often where linebackers reside. They'd probably be 0-1 right now if they had played a more talented team.

Last week: 1


2) 49ers (1-0): The 49ers had a seemingly difficult test Week 1, playing in Pittsburgh against a very good defense with premium pass rush talent. 

It was never a contest. The Steelers' first five possessions of the game:

  1. -5 yards, 3-and-out
  2. 5 yards, INT
  3. -3 yards, 3-and-out
  4. -10 yards, 3-and-out
  5. 4 yards, 3-and-out

That would be -9 yards in five possessions.

Offensively, the Niners scored on each of their first four drives:

  1. TD
  2. FG
  3. TD
  4. FG

They basically went into cruise control from there. The defense was dominant (no surprise there), Brock Purdy looked sharp, and Christian McCaffrey had a long TD run.

Brandon Aiyuk had a great block on that run, as you saw if you watched that. He also had 8 catches for 129 yards and 2 TDs. 

Last week: 3


1) Cowboys (1-0): The Dallas defense is a problem. Yeah, the Giants' offensive line is bad, but this Cowboys front looked like a swarm of bees attacking Daniel Jones all night. And they are far from a one-man show. If you take away Micah Parsons, their other guys can beat you.

Meanwhile, on the back end, Trevon Diggs forced two turnovers, and Stephon Gilmore had his first INT as a Cowboy. The Cowboys could've punted on first down on every one of their drives and they still would have blown out the Giants.

Last week: 2

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