Cardinals Hire Jonathan Gannon As HC

The final head coaching vacancy of the 2023 head coaching cycle is set to be filled. The Cardinals are finalizing a deal to make Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon their new HC, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The team has since confirmed the hire.

Signs increasingly pointed to Gannon being the Cardinals’ top choice beginning on Super Bowl Sunday, when it was reported that an interview would be set up. At that point, Arizona was believed to be down to two finalists to lead their staff (Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka). Things quickly shifted, and now Gannon is set for his first head coaching gig.

Monday, a report surfaced that the Cardinals had essentially narrowed down their list of finalists to Gannon and Anarumo. Today’s news confirms that, and leaves Kafka in place for another season at the helm of the Giants’ offense, a role in which he achieved unexpected success. Anarumo, meanwhile, is now free to prepare for a fifth consecutive season in charge of the Bengals’ defense, a unit which has come on strong in recent years in particular. Brian Flores was among the candidates receiving serious consideration for Arizona’s HC vacancy, but he withdrew to take the Vikings’ defensive coordinator position.

Gannon, 39, joined Nick Sirianni in making the jump from Indianapolis to Philadelphia in 2021. The Eagles’ defense performed well in their first season together, putting up the league’s No. 10 total defense. The unit took a considerable step forward with another year of Gannon at the helm and an infusion of several high-end players during the offseason. In 2022, Philadelphia ranked top-10 in both both points and yards allowed, figures which helped guide the team to the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Strong performances in the postseason (including an NFC title game against the 49ers, who were without a healthy quarterback for much of the game, in fairness) took the Eagles to the Super Bowl. Much has been made about the team’s breakdown in the second half in particular against the Chiefs, but Gannon still boasts a strong resume given his success in his first coordinator gig. That has translated to a first-time HC posting, where he will build off of a strong relationship with new Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that the personal connection between the pair helped give Gannon an edge over Anarumo, who interviewed well. Now, attention will turn to his choice for offensive coordinator, and his ability to steer the team back towards contention after a disastrous 2022 season. Arizona’s regression left it as little surprise that both Kliff Kingsbury and Steve Keim are no longer in place, despite each having multiple years remaining on their contracts before their departures.

Gannon will face a tall order in terms of helping the Cardinals take a step forward on both sides of the ball, as his now-former Eagles counterpart Shane Steichen does in Indianapolis. The reporting of Gannon’s hire comes mere hours after Steichen’s was announced by the Colts, leaving the Eagles as the first team in a decade to lose both their offensive and defensive coordinators in the same offseason. Attention will now turn to how Philadelphia compensates, as well as how Gannon fills out his staff as the coaching cycle winds down.

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