Jonathan Gannon: We can take Kyler Murray to another level

For Philadelphia, two who got away. The Colts hired offensive coordinator Shane Steichen from the Eagles’ staff as head coach; the already celebrated Brian Johnson, Sirianni’s QB coach, should fit into that role seamlessly. It won’t be as easy defensively. Jonathan Gannon, the widely respected defensive coordinator who ran everything about the Philly defense, took the Arizona head-coaching gig when it was offered by owner Michael Bidwill 24 hours after he walked off the field Sunday night. “We had to iron out a few things Tuesday morning,” Gannon told me Sunday from Arizona. “But it was pretty much done Monday night. Things happened fast. Howie Roseman told me after the game, ‘You won’t be coming back with us to Philadelphia. You’re staying here to interview for the Cardinals job.’” That’s when he officially learned the Cards requested permission for him to interview.

A quick conversation with the new Arizona coach:

FMIA: Kyler Murray’s been a little bit of a polarizing figure. How did he figure into you taking this job?

Gannon: “If Kyler Murray isn’t here, I don’t take this job. I think this offense will look much different. This guy does things that it completely handcuffs you how you play defense – at times. I think we can take him to another level and unleash his full skill set. We’re not gonna put him in gun all the time, I’ll tell you that. We’ll have two significant offenses with his skill set: one being under center and one being in the gun. Then obviously we’re gonna do what’s comfortable with him. The way to take pressure off the quarterback and the O-line is to put him under center at times. That’s the missing piece I thought they had with Kyler. They were in gun all the time. When you’re in gun all the time, you don’t make the defense defend certain play types. Now, when you get him under center, the defense has to defend a lot more type of play types. So there’s really two offenses I see us using.”

FMIA: Sounds like you were ready to leave, but it wasn’t easy.

Gannon: “I loved Philly. I love Mr. Lurie [owner Jeffrey Lurie]. I love Howie Roseman. I love Nick Sirianni. They came back and they were like, here’s a new offer. It’s gonna pay you more than being a head coach. That’s cool and I loved it there but I wanted to be a head coach and I was excited about this because of Mr. Bidwell—Michael, as he would say—[GM] Monti Ossenfort, and Kyler.”

FMIA: Reportedly, you are going to hire 29- and 35-year-old coordinators (defensive coordinator Nick Rallis, 29, and 35-year-old OC Drew Petzing). You have conviction on both young coaches?

Gannon: “One hundred percent convicted. You know, I talked about in the interview and the other guys that I interviewed for those jobs were all on the younger side, too, probably. One defensive guy was a little bit older. Age isn’t a prerequisite for firepower. I’ve always thought that. When we got to Philly, we had the youngest staff in the NFL. There’s a reason that our [players] ran into the building to come to work. I love that. I’m gonna have some guys with major, major experience worked into the staff because I value that, too. But as far as who’s running the offense and the defense, age was never a factor for me – what was in their brain and what was in their heart is. It’s capacity and character. That’s what I’m looking for in a staff.”

America doesn’t know Gannon. It certainly doesn’t know his coordinators. In 25 minutes on the phone Sunday, I learned Gannon doesn’t lack for enthusiasm.

“One of my biggest mentors is Mike Zimmer. Is my personality the same as Mike Zimmer? No, it is not. Am I in alignment with a lot of things that he did as a head coach for discipline, accountability, player performance? You bet your ass I am. That’s not saying like I’m a tough guy. Because I’m probably gonna run that more like Nick. They’re completely different personality types. But I’ll say this: Someone that worked around me would never say I’m soft on people.”

Gannon will need some patience. This team in the last 14-and-a-half months went from the NFC’s top seed in 2021 to a disaster area by the end of 2022. This roster needs a retooling, at minimum, and will be without Murray for a number of games as he recovers from his torn ACL.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

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