In the grand scheme of things, ‘third and 30’ will never hold the same historical significance as ‘4th and 26’. The former was a moment in a regular-season game. The latter ranks as one of the great playoff moments in Philadelphia Eagles history. It also helped spearhead the final stages of a come-from-behind victory over the Green Bay Packers to ensure the Birds would play in a fourth consecutive NFC Championship Game.
‘Third and 30′ didn’t knock the Eagles out of playoff contention. It didn’t win the NFC East for the Dallas Cowboys. It most certainly didn’t ruin Philly’s chances of earning the top seed in the NFC and a first-round bye during the postseason. It still sucked to watch Dallas convert though.
No one play loses a game, but every time Birds fans think of that Christmas Eve loss to Dallas, they’ll remember Dak Prescott’s bomb down the left sideline to T.Y. Hilton.
A home game versus the New Orleans Saints is the next step in the Eagles’ journey, but as thoughts shift to Week 17’s game, we’d be lying if we stated that we weren’t still trying to figure out how Philadelphia’s defense failed to get off of the field.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon shoulders the blame for the third-and-30 debacle.
Good coaches get the best out of their players and ultimately place them in the best position to be successful. A good coach also knows the value of taking the heat for his players. Jonathan Gannon has been under fire all season. Most of the criticism has been unwarranted, but after what we witnessed in Week 16, you can see why people are ticked.
As is customary, Philly’s coordinators met with members of the media on the Tuesday leading up to the Eagles’ next game. As you might imagine, J.G. was asked about a certain Dallas connection/conversion.
To his credit, he didn’t make any excuses. He simply did what you’d expect, accept responsibility and cover for his guys.
"(We have to be) better situationally. That’s me first, coaching it better than what we did last week obviously. We (have to) execute at a higher level and that comes down to me as well, coaching it and calling it a little better. (I’m) excited about getting back in the lab with the guys and making the corrections. We’re going to learn from this game and be better for it. On to New Orleans."
The first question he was asked was about ‘third-and-30’. Here’s more.
"It’s me. I just have to do a better job of coaching what I want out of that call. I’m not going to get into specifics of the call. I liked the call, but looking back at it, I (have to) do a better job of putting our guys in position to make that play and get off of the field because you can’t give up a third-and-30. That was a play in that game that I felt like was a little bit of a tipping point when we let them convert and (when they score on) that drive, that hurts the ball club. So, I (have to) do a better job."
Yep, that’s what we’d expect him to say. Arguments can be made however that this one wasn’t on Gannon.
Some say Darius Slay took the early part of the play off and that led to a big gain. Others claim that Josiah Scott was late on the assist and had more than enough time to track the ball and force an incompletion.
Others still state that, had C.J.Gardner-Johnson been present, he may have even forced a turnover. After all, Josiah Scott is a backup slot corner, not a safety (fingers are crossed that C.J. is back for a postseason run).
Regardless of where you stand on any of that, ‘third and 30’ is water under the bridge now. There’s no sense in crying over spilled milk. It’s time to move on and earn a win in Week 17. As Gannon stated, we’re “on to New Orleans”.