Jonathan Gannon did his best to dull the pitchforks and dim the torches.
The Eagles' defensive coordinator wasn’t ducking. Heck, he didn’t even wear a hat when he talked on Tuesday. That had to be a first for the rookie DC.
What was the same was his friendly, gregarious manner, always greeting the assembled media with, “Happy Tuesday.”
Those who want to drive him out of town may simply say it’s just a case of Nero fiddling while Philly’s defense burns, and it may be so, though personnel deficiencies cannot be overlooked, either.
When a sixth-round draft pick of the Vikings, Marcus Epps, has been their best safety and an undrafted player in T.J. Edwards has been their best linebacker, there are issues.
Taking away the deep, explosive plays is nice, but this death by a thousand cuts isn’t helping, and Gannon doesn’t get a pass for allowing a disturbing trend to continue.
Five quarterbacks have completed 80-plus percent of their throws, with Los Angeles Chargers Justin Herbert the latest to do it.
Predictably, the Eagles are 0-5 when that happens and it hasn’t happened much, just six times in 70 previous years, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Gannon isn’t alarmed in the slightest at such a horrifying stat.
“Definitely fixable, absolutely,” he said. “I wouldn't say alarming to me. I would say that we know the areas that we have to get better at, and we've done that at times. We just have to be a little more consistent.
“It really, though, again it starts with us setting it up a little bit better, how I call the game a little bit better at some certain spots where you can throw a wrench into what the quarterback is seeing or when they call certain plays, you'd like to be in a couple better calls here or there.
But, ultimately, it's about all of us just improving and being a little more consistent.”
So, really it’s just inconsistency over 60 minutes for the reason?
But there’s more.
Gannon said a reason his team didn’t register a sack against Herbert, or even a quarterback hit to maybe get him out of a rhythm, and the reason Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Derek Carr were able to throw for 80-plus percent was because of the Eagles’ defensive line.
Yes, the Eagles invest a lot there, but Gannon made them sound like Gang Green or the Steel Curtain. And, oh, by the way, the New York Giants allowed Carr to complete just 65 percent of his throws in beating the Raiders last week.
“I think, one, personnel driven, who we have with the front,” said Gannon. “I think teams are very aware of our D-line can rush.
“And the other thing is, is, because we are set up to take away some explosives, they say, ‘Okay, well, in these certain plays, by the look, pre-snap, if the explosive isn't there and you know it's not there, get it out of your hand.’”
Five times it’s happened and nothing’s changing.
That’s not good.
Neither was this answer from Gannon when asked if there is one statistic he looks at as a key to success, saying it changes. At least former DC Jim Schwartz was definitive in that regard. Points allowed were Schwartz’s gold standard.
Kind of like his scheme, Gannon’s gold standard changes from game to game.
“It changes weekly,” he said. “You know, I mean, some games we say, hey, we got to keep the yards per rush down. Do we want to keep the team under a hundred yards passing?
“Explosives is a big one for me. Explosive passes. The quickest way to get beat is get the ball thrown over your head. So, that's always in my mind when we set up the plan, how many chances are they going to take to where we're not in a great coverage versus those shot plays.
“So, wins and losses to me and then by game plan, what you decide, ‘Hey, this is what they do really well, these numbers have to be pretty good to give us a chance to win.’ And, again, that changes weekly.”
OK, but if Teddy Bridgewater finds a way to complete 80 percent of his throws Sunday for the Denver Broncos…maybe it’s best not to finish that sentence until if it actually happens.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.