The NFL season is winding down but coaching rumors are heating up. Especially with teams now able to interview prospective head coach candidates with two weeks remaining, which is earlier than ever before.
You might be surprised to see one Philadelphia assistant is generating some buzz. NFL insider Tom Pelissero mentioned Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon among names to watch in this year’s hiring cycle:
With HC interviews set to start soon, a good emptying notebook convo on @GMFB with @TomPelissero ... The 6 names we mentioned:— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) December 27, 2021
Packers OC Nathaniel Hackett
Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon
Bills DC Leslie Frazier
Rams DC Raheem Morris
Bengals OC Brian Callahan
Cowboys DC Dan Quinn
Gannon’s first season as a DC has been ... interesting.
After the hire came with much hype and hope, his unit got off to a pretty discouraging start. The Eagles allowed 40 points in two of their first four games, which was a mark that Gannon’s predecessor (Jim Schwartz) had only allowed once in 86 games. Gannon’s incredibly soft coverages contributed to Philly allowing five quarterbacks to complete at least 80% of their attempts against them. To underscore how insanely bad that is, the Eagles allowed 80%+ completion to six quarterbacks COMBINED in the 70 years before 2021. Gannon also drew public ire from Fletcher Cox, the team’s highest-paid player, who was clearly unhappy with his role and reportedly requested permission to seek a trade.
Despite these flaws, the Eagles’ defense has allowed the second-fewest yards per play and 13th fewest offensive points. They’re allowing 16.7 points per game over their last six, in which they’ve gone 5-1.
Of course, it helps that the Eagles have played some really bad quarterbacks in that stretch. No one is shaking in their boots when it comes to facing Teddy Bridgewater, Trevor Siemian, Daniel Jones, Zach Wilson, Garrett Gilbert, or the combination of Jake Fromm/Mike Glennon. Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, which accounts for level of competition, has the Eagles’ defense ranked 23rd out of 32 units. Pro Football Focus’s grading has it tied for the 17th best unit.
In fairness to Gannon, he’s in his first year on the job and he could benefit from the Eagles adding more defensive talent to the roster. He could draw more interest down the line after fielding some really strong units.
But he’s yet to prove he has answers to slowing down the league’s better quarterbacks. It would be a surprise if a team hired him away as soon as this offseason. Down the road? Sure, possibly. But not yet.
At least, the Eagles probably hope that’s the case.
In other head coaching news, the Jacksonville Jaguars are reportedly planning to interview former Eagles Super Bowl winning head coach Doug Pederson. Here’s hoping Dougie P gets a job and finds success.