Jonathan Gannon's Defense Shredded Again

Whether it's scheme or personnel, the Eagles DC needs to find answers
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PHILADELPHIA – Other teams have stopped the Kansas City Chiefs offense.

The Eagles simply could not. Their defense gave up touchdowns on six of KC’s offensive possessions. That adds up to 42 points, which was more than enough to send Philadelphia to its third straight loss, 42-30, at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.

Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon will have some explaining to do when he talks to reporters on Tuesday.

On Sunday, with the loss still smarting, the players didn’t seem to know how it could allow 40-plus points for a second straight week while surrendering 838 total yards combined in Sunday’s defeat and the 41-21 pounding by the Dallas Cowboys last Monday.

There were just no answers for surrendering 200 yards rushing with an average of 6.3 yards per run like the Chiefs put up.

It gets uglier. The defense has given up 58 first downs the past two weeks while the Chiefs went 9-for-10 on third downs a week after the Cowboys went 6-for-12 on third down.

MORE: Penalties Negate 3 TDs, Eagles Lose Third Straight Game with Loss to Chiefs

Even head coach Nick Sirianni was stumped and said he will need to watch tape of the game.

“We just have to find what we need to do,” said cornerback Darius Slay, who had five tackles. “I just try to play my hardest, whatever call [Gannon] gives, I just give it my all and compete, but we just have to go back to the table and figure this out.”

Added defensive tackle Javon Hargrave: “We just got to get better. I don’t really know, I haven’t looked at the film yet, so we’re going to go look and try to get better.”

The Chiefs are very talented, yes., but there’s no reason an NFL team should allow touchdowns on six of seven possessions and 200 yards rushing.

Patrick Mahomes also threw five touchdown passes a week after Dallas’ Dak Prescott had three.

“They got a lot of good players,” said head coach Nick Sirianni of the Chiefs, referencing as well Andy Reid and his OC Eric Bieniemy.

“That was a tough challenge for our defense. You're always going to look - when a team rushes for that many yards, you're always going to look at that and say, ‘We got to stop the run on that.’ That's going to always be the first emphasis.

“I obviously need to watch the tape on a lot of that. A lot of times I'm looking down at my play sheet to see what I'm going to call next. I'll have a better answer for you. Any time you rush that many yards, you know you are going to have to improve in that area.”

MORE: Eagles Defense Hits Bear Market in Shootout Loss to Chiefs

The problems are likely a mix of scheme and personnel, because, what else could it be?

This may even be maybe more personnel-related.

Certainly, losing Brandon Graham hasn’t helped matters, but defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was nowhere to be found on the stat sheet or in the postgame interview room. He was shut out too in Atlanta and at Dallas. Cox has four tackles. His last sack was Dec. 13, 2020, against the New Orleans Saints.

Ryan Kerrigan has played more than 100 snaps and hasn’t made a single tackle.

The rookies, Milton Williams and Tarron Jackson, are still works-in-progress, getting on-the-job training.

At this point, personnel cannot be fixed until the offseason, so Gannon is going to have to go back to the drawing board and determine what his players do best and adjust his scheme.

“We have to find a way to clean it up,” said safety Anthony Harris. “Get on the film, continue to come in with the right attitude, continue to take to coaching and continue to self-evaluate each player, each coach, figure out how we can come together, be on the same page continuously and find a way to execute and be able to get wins and what that looks like.

“In terms of scheme in terms of eliminating rushing yards, giving up explosive plays creating turnovers things like that.”

The Eagles' defense had one interception, the first of the season, getting it from linebacker Eric Wilson. That was the only time in the game a KC drive didn’t end in a touchdown.

“Nobody likes losing, so I feel the same way with one loss as I do with three (in a row),” said Slay. “(Bleep) sucks. We just trying to get in that win column. That’s an important column and I need to get that taste out of my mouth. It tastes nasty, so go find something, get some orange juice spray down there.”

It’s going to take much more than an OJ spritz to get this defense right, especially with Tom Brady due on Oct. 14.

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.