The Arizona Cardinals have hired Jonathan Gannon to be their newest head coach after a pitiful 4-13 season. The 40-year-old received a five-year contract.
It comes after Gannon’s defense blew a 24-14 halftime lead in Super Bowl LVII, giving up 24 points over the last few quarters in what would be a 38-35 loss.
For the Eagles, it’s the loss of their second coordinator in as many days. During his time here, Gannon helped to elevate the defense to new heights, which finished 2022 with 78 sacks and 20.2 points allowed per game (eighth in the league).
Gannon’s hire means Giants’ OC Mike Kafka, who was a finalist for the opening, will also be staying in New York. One NFC East team gets a bit of stability at the expense of another.
So, was this a good hire for Arizona? If you’re going off of “what have you done for me lately” material, then sure. A DC from a Super Bowl team is a fine choice. But looking at the way the Cardinals are built, it you might have to wonder.
Is Gannon the right fit for AZ?
Perhaps most notable is that Gannon’s hiring comes just a couple weeks after he explicitly said he would remain with Philadelphia for another season. “No, Philly’s keeping me. Good, bad or indifferent, I’m staying here,” he told Philadelphia Fox 29 near the end of January.
It’s clear Gannon didn’t expect to be in the running for a HC gig at the time he made those comments, because it looks a little bad. Of course, given the bad taste he left in fans’ mouths following the championship game, perhaps it works out.
The Cardinals are an interesting team, but Gannon is a bit of an odd choice for a couple reasons. First, despite his defense’s stellar performances this year, questions about his ability to scheme against star quarterbacks remain, and we just saw how he did against the top one Sunday.
Second, and perhaps most importantly, the team’s star player is Kyler Murray, for better or worse. Murray will be making his way back from injury, but is the key to any future success. So why bring in a defensive coach in Gannon?
Across the league, the major trend is to have an offensive-minded coach when you have a young quarterback. We’ve seen it with Zac Taylor and Joe Burrow. We’ve seen it with Doug Pederson and Trevor Lawrence.
You think you’d want to pair a QB coach or someone who could help to polish Murray, and then work your way from there. Of course, Kliff Kingsbury was that supposed to be that guy, so maybe the Cardinals feel this is a nice change of pace.
Gannon also has his work cut out for him with a tough division and a pending roster overhaul.
Additionally, the Cardinals will be playing the Eagles at the Linc next year, which means’ Gannon’s return to Philadelphia will happen in short order. Just a guess, but I can’t imagine fans will remember him too fondly.
Who will the Eagles look towards?
With Gannon’s sudden departure, the team is suddenly looking at two major coordinator holes.
It’s more likely than not the team promotes from within, rather than hiring from outside. At this point in the coaching carousel, all the intriguing external candidates have been snatched up – including Vic Fangio, who almost certainly would’ve been the top choice had the Dolphins not gotten to him first.
A few in-house names that could be worth watching are Dennard Wilson (DB coach) and Nick Rallis (LB coach). Both saw their units perform insanely well throughout the season, with players like James Bradberry and Haason Reddick having their best seasons to date.