Everybody is down on the Eagles right now, for obvious reasons. The team is 2-5, the quarterback doesn’t look great, and the uber-young coaching staff is going through some pretty rough growing pains.
Naturally, knee-jerk Philadelphia is destroying the team. We’ve got folks out here calling for Nick Sirianni to be a one-and-done coach. Jonathan Gannon should be “fired on the spot,” etc. It’s a sampling of what you hear on social media and the radio and from your uncles.
You wouldn’t expect it from people associated with the team, but apparently we’ve even crossed over that threshold now:
Dave Spadaro, the Eagles own PR guy, gave a memorable interview on WIP tonight. Instead of being an apologist for the team, he ripped the defensive coordinator, some of the players, and was critical of Sirianni. I guess even Spadaro values his credibility.
— bobby (@19148_4533) October 25, 2021
Strange times with the #Eagles and their “media” contingent:
*Web site “Insider” openly critical on WIP of Jonathan Gannon and the defense
*Other team mouthpieces giving off whiffs of criticism
*No more glossy web site film reviews of players/schemes (although understandable)
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) October 26, 2021
The WIP audio comes from the station’s post-post game show, known as the The 5th Quarter. It’s hosted by Rob Ellis and Rob Charry, and Sunday they opened by asking about the defense, to which Spuds replied with the following:
“I would say that the scheme is one that doesn’t challenge. And I think Nick Sirianni touched on it. Fletcher Cox post game certainly touched on it. It is a defense that has really no flavor to it, from a team standpoint. Four-man front. Soft shell in coverage. Keep everything in front of you, hope the quarterback makes a mistake, and hope you can win with the front four, going against five blockers and maybe a back chipping. They aren’t creating enough pressure on the quarterback. They’re not doing anything. I’ve never seen a defense, week after week, offer less resistance than what the Eagles are offering right now defensively. Quarterbacks sit back and go, ‘okay this is very basic, what I’m looking at, and I know where to go with the ball’ and it’s just pitch and catch.”
In a follow up question, Ellis asked if this is who Jonathan Gannon is, or if the struggles are due to personnel.
“That seems to be the message from Nick, post game. I don’t know why it would take until game seven to change it. And I’m not sure how much you can change. You can’t just rip apart what you’ve done and start anew. But yeah, if it is Jonathan Gannon, then it is the biggest shocker, because I expected a much more aggressive scheme. And I’ll tell you what’s weird; the defense played really well against Atlanta, they were dominant against San Francisco until Brandon Graham went down, and from the moment Brandon Graham went down, this defense hasn’t stopped anybody. I’m watching the defense and totally stunned by the lack of aggressiveness with which they play.”
In a vacuum, these comments wouldn’t be considered incendiary. They’d be considered pretty tame. But Dave Spadaro doesn’t work in a vacuum, nor does video guru Fran Duffy, whom Jeff McLane is referring to in the tweet above. These guys, as team employees, have to polish a turd when the Eagles aren’t playing well.
Spadaro also did a AMA on Reddit where he echoed some of the things he said on WIP:
We’ve taken some jabs at Spuds on this website before, and like to quip when he gets his “exclusive” interviews. It’s the same as Tesla touting an exclusive interview with Elon Musk. And it makes me laugh when people go on the Reddit AMA and ask him shit that they know he can’t answer. Or maybe they’re too dense to understand what he does for a living.
But on a more serious note, Dave’s job is difficult. You often question your own integrity and sanity because you signed up for the gig knowing that you can’t say what you really want to say. Same for Fran, who does really good work, plus Lauren Rosen at the Sixers and the in-house Phillies and Flyers people. I did the same job alongside Andy Jasner and Kerith Gabriel at the Union, and we regularly had copy that was edited or stories that were nixed entirely in order to make sure the coaching staff and front office were protected. Peter Nowak once flipped out over an article so badly that the end result was a player-personnel guy having to approve everything before it went up on the website. That’s the kind of shit people like Spuds have to deal with.
People might go the conspiracy theory route and say, “well Howie tells Spadaro what to say, and this is coming from him,” but you can only speculate on that kind of stuff. Howie’s got enough media leaks that he can badmouth his coaches through the regular press, so I can’t imagine he’d order the team insider to trash his own guys. That would be a little redundant.
More often than not, team insiders can find a lane and stay in it. You can do softer feature stories and/or highlight the good things from bad losses. And there’s value in that, if you do it well. But this is a Spadaro we haven’t seen in… maybe ever? It’s curious, and it makes you wonder about the sentiment in the front office and all the way up to Jeffrey Lurie himself.