Eagles’ Jonathan Gannon defends Ryan Kerrigan’s production

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Gannon defends Kerrigan’s production through 6 games originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

In six games this season, Eagles free agent pickup Ryan Kerrigan has played a total of 152 defensive snaps.

He has one tackle.

So why hasn’t Kerrigan been productive?

“On the stat sheet you mean?” defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon fired back. “Because in my opinion, he has been productive.”

OK. Then how would you quantify that production?

“How would I quantify that is he lines up,” Gannon said, “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.”

“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. I don't always look at – with 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.”

Gannon’s point is that good play doesn’t always show up in the stat sheet. Point taken.

And he also brought up the comparison to defensive backs. He explained that a defensive back can be playing well and not get any pass breakups or interceptions but if he gave up just two completion in six targets, that’s a “winning day.”

Fair enough.

But for a defensive end to play 152 snaps and have just one tackle, it seems shocking.

Kerrigan, 33, signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal to join the Eagles this offseason, but he suffered a thumb injury during training camp that forced him to miss a lot of the summer. Since the season began, Kerrigan has been playing with his hand heavily wrapped, which has probably affected him more than he anticipated.

But one tackle? Through six games?

There have been times where Kerrigan has gotten some pressure and he’s drawn a couple holding calls throughout the season. And his one tackle was a tackle for loss. But this is a player who was a four-time Pro Bowler with Washington and has 95 1/2 sacks in his career. He was on a legitimate Hall of Fame trajectory in his career not that long ago.

Heck, even in a backup role last season, he still managed to have 5 1/2 sacks, 17 tackles and 5 tackles for loss with Washington last season at the age of 32.

And he has one tackle through six games.

Maybe it’s that he doesn’t fit into this defense. Maybe that thumb is really hurting him. Maybe he just doesn’t have it anymore.

But with the loss of Brandon Graham with an Achilles tear this season, the Eagles could sure use more production out of Kerrigan. Instead, Kerrigan’s snap counts have actually decreased in every single game this season, despite the injury to Graham.

Week 1: 34

Week 2: 32

Week 3: 27

Week 4: 22

Week 5: 21

Week 6: 16

Last Thursday against the Bucs, Kerrigan played just 16 snaps (21.3%) of the Eagles’ defensive snaps, his lowest total and percentage of the season.

Gannon on Tuesday was asked about the lack of a healthy DL rotation in that Bucs game and said he’d like to get those snaps more balanced so guys can stay fresh. But if the drop-off from the starters to the backups is steep, it makes it a lot harder to rotate as much as they’d like.

The point Gannon tried to make about statistics not telling the whole story is a fair one. But there’s a reason stats are kept. And there’s a reason the best edge players in the league get sacks, tackles and QB hits. You can’t ignore that either.

“But production is a way to measure; you know what I mean?,” Gannon conceded. “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 he is doing that.”

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