After Sunday’s loss to the Raiders, some of the Eagles veteran players lamented the passivity of Philadelphia’s new defensive scheme.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and safety Rodney McLeod each said a version of, “We just play what’s called,” after Philadelphia surrendered 442 total yards and allowed quarterback Derek Carr to complete 31-of-34 passes in the 33-22 loss.
Head coach Nick Sirianni was critical of the defensive calls and philosophy in his postgame press conference, too, saying, “Anytime you’re not playing well, you have to make changes, you have to adapt, you have to move. I don’t want to say you have to make a completely different philosophy switch, but we have to do different things to help our players out, absolutely.”
But Sirianni also raised an eyebrow or two when asked about his level of communication with defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon during games.
“Every product that’s on that field, is a product and my name is on it. I’m able to talk to them throughout the game, say my piece right there,” Sirianni said. “Again they’re the ones watching the tape all week. I get to watch a little defensive tape. Obviously, I’m doing my homework as an offensive coordinator. I’m making suggestions here and there, but they’re the ones watching the tape all week.”
While Sirianni noted that he’s ultimately responsible for everything on the field, and he is the offensive play-caller, he’s not a coordinator. Shane Steichen has that title. Sirianni is the head coach. And publicly pointing out that he’s not watching much defensive film may not have been advisable, especially when the team has fallen to 2-5.
Sirianni did some cleanup work in his Monday press conference, while also voicing his confidence in Gannon.
“I want to make it very clear, when I say the defense needs to tighten up, I’m looking at myself first,” Sirianni said, via Daye Zangaro of NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com. “Every product that’s on that field, special teams, defense, offense, has my name on it. I’m not just the offensive coordinator, I’m the head coach of this football team. So, everything that’s out there on that field is first my responsibility.
“When I say the defense needs to tighten up and needs to get the ball back to the offense, I’m saying that that’s my responsibility, right? That’s my responsibility to say, ‘Hey, on this one, I want to tighten up and play man coverage on this one.’ In no way, shape or form was I putting any blame on the defense or Jonathan Gannon at all.
“I have utmost faith in Jonathan Gannon. I have utmost faith in our defense. I’m putting that responsibility on me and nobody else.”
Whether that faith will be rewarded remains to be seen. But it’s clear the Eagles have to change some things up to have more success.
They’ll get the chance to do so against the winless Lions this week in Detroit.