Gannon Explains Why Eagles Are Underperforming in Practice originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Since the summer of 1933, when the first Eagles team spent the summer practicing at Bader Field in Atlantic City, possession has been a big part of training camp.
Linemen tackle running backs. Linebackers handle tight ends. Defensive backs tackle wide receivers.
Keep doing it until you get it right. And if the boys get hurt? That’s the cost of doing business.
For 88 years, under every Eagles coach from Lud Wray to Doug Pederson, the Eagles have struggled in training camp. Because conventional NFL wisdom says that’s what you do.
Then Nick Siriani came in and said to stop.
“You hear all the time, ‘Well, we’ve always done it this way,'” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. “But that’s probably not the way to go in 2022.”
The Eagles don’t believe you have to really handle it to become proficient at it, and on Thursday morning, Gannon explained why.
Gannon, who appeared on WIP’s morning show, explained the philosophy he and head coach Nick Siriani share about teaching tackles in training camp and why you don’t see linebackers finishing tackles in practice.
“You don’t do tact, that’s right,” Gannon said. “But here’s how you can practice coping in a safe way to keep us healthy. Wrestling is nothing but desire — and I know all our guys want to wrestle — and positioning and technique.
“You can work with it in practice without taking Boston Scott to the ground, so it will keep us healthier.”
The Eagles bucked NFL tradition last year in Sirianni’s first season as head coach by eliminating all live practices. Not that the practice isn’t physical. It is. The Eagles practice hard and the boys hit. They just don’t get the offensive player on the ground.
“Every day we have a mastery chain, so people don’t see that because we don’t throw strikes live, but they work on aspects of space, technique, pad level, what you do when you hit a guy,” Gannon said. “They do it in practice. I don’t have any questions or concerns (whether) we’ll be ready in Week 1.”
Last year the training camp was the same. Training is accelerated, intense, fast, sometimes even physical.
But players don’t usually curl up on the ground.
And what happened during the season? The Eagles were one of the healthiest teams in the NFL, they went 6-1 down the stretch to make the playoffs, and their wrestling was good.
The Eagles have come under fire not only for their lack of hitting on the ground, but also for the length of their practices.
But this is the wave of the future in the NFL. And the Eagles are at the cutting edge when it comes to using sports science and analytics to help make smart decisions.
Even leading to unorthodox methods.
“When you look at training camp as a whole, not day-to-day, when you look at the wide coverage, the global workload they get and everything they get live, instruction and meetings, it’s a really good setup for our guys as the No. 1 prepares them for Week 1 and 2 keeps them healthy,” Gannon said.
“(Siriani) relies on science and people who really know how the body reacts and what the players’ stress is like. … If you’re trying to say, ‘Hey, what’s our No. 1 goal in training camp?’ So you have to balance a lot of different factors that go into it.
“From my perspective as a defensive coordinator, do we need to evaluate our guys, get our guys better and be ready for Week 1. And with this setup, I know we’ll be ready for Week 1.”
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