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Production in Eye of the Beholder when it Comes to Ryan Kerrigan

Eagles Jonathan Gannon contended that the veteran DE has been productive despite just one tackle in six games

PHILADELPHIA - Ryan Kerrigan seemed like a solid signing for Howie Roseman in free agency.

A notorious Eagles killer while piling up 95.5 sacks over a decade with the Washington Football Team, maybe Kerrigan wasn’t a natural fit for a team in transition after turning 33 in August, but the four-time Pro Bowl selection only cost $2.5 million and figured to fit in nicely as a rotational player on the edge, along with the now-injured Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, and Josh Sweat.

A thumb injury that required surgery over the summer didn’t help and has hampered Kerrigan, who had admitted it’s been difficult to grip and use his hand at an optimal level, always a key for a defensive lineman.

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Kerrigan, though, has played in all six games and made one tackle, albeit for loss. That’s it. No sacks, not even a quarterback hurry for one of the best pass-rushers of his generation.

Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon, however, sees Kerrigan in a different way.

Gannon was asked point-blank off the Eagles’ mini-bye on Tuesday why the veteran hasn’t been productive during the team’s 2-4 start.

“On the stat sheet, you mean? The DC asked rhetorically. “Because in my opinion, [Kerrigan] has been productive.”

While some may scoff at Gannon’s claim, he is a disciple of Mike Zimmer, who preaches a more disciplined approach when it comes to the pass rush especially when compared with the wide-9 looks Philadelphia fans got used to with their edge rushers.

“How would I quantify that is he lines up, he gets aligned the correct way, he plays with his eyes the right way, he's asked to do the techniques that we're asking him to do and he's playing winning football within his role,” Gannon said.

In other words, football is a team game and Kerrigan is no longer the playmaker. He is the role player.

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“What I mean by that is, like somebody that makes a tackle on a run, well, Ryan helped that guy make that tackle by how he crushed the block,” said Gannon. “I don't always look at – with [DT] Fletcher [Cox] moving back a couple weeks like, he's balling."

"Now, the stat sheet might not jump out at you and be like, ‘Well, this guy doesn't have 10 sacks or six, whatever TFLs,’ this and that, but within the framework of what we're asking those guys to do, they're being productive.”

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The easiest way to measure intangibles like that is in the secondary.

“Now, with saying that, we can – you know, with a DB. He didn't have any interceptions, he didn't get any PBUs, yeah, but when the ball came to him six times, he gave up two completions,” was the example Gannon gave. “That's a winning day for me, with no PBUs and no interceptions. He's not allowing his guy to catch the ball.”

Gannon did admit that production is a measure, however, and when the time comes and Kerrigan is freed up to make a play the veteran will be expected to make it.

“Production is a way to measure; you know what I mean?" the DC said. "So, you always have to, as a coach – what's the blend of is this guy playing winning football for us? And who is producing when the plays that are there for him to make, does he make them? I think [Kerrigan] is doing that."

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 -John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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.