Cardinals hiring Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon as next head coach

Feb 14, 2023, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:55 pm
Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon of the Philadelphia Eagles cheers on his team during training...
Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon of the Philadelphia Eagles cheers on his team during training camp at the NovaCare Complex on July 29, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals are hiring Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon as their next head coach, the team announced Tuesday.

Per the team, Gannon’s contract with the team runs through 2027.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport were first to report the hire.

Gannon, who was a late addition to Arizona’s coaching search this past week and also interviewed for the Houston Texans’ opening, is coming off his second season as Eagles DC and was part of the team’s Super Bowl LVII run.

Under Gannon, Philadelphia finished second behind the San Francisco 49ers (300.6) in total yards allowed per game with 301.5 and posted a league-best 70 sacks in 2022.

Gannon got his NFL coaching start as an Atlanta Falcons defensive quality control coach in 2007. He spent one season with the Falcons before joining the St. Louis Rams as a college scout in 2009. He was elevated a year later to pro scout, a position he held from 2010-11. From there, he headed to the Tennessee Titans as their defensive quality control coach from 2012-13.

He also served as an assistant defensive backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings from 2014-17 and worked as a DBs coach for the Indianapolis Colts from 2018-2020.

Gannon got his start in the coaching world with Louisville as a student assistant from 2003-05 before serving as a graduate assistant in 2006.

According to reports, the Cardinals had interest in in-house candidate and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, former New Orleans head coach Sean Payton, New York Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Pittsburgh defensive assistant Brian Flores, Detroit DC Aaron Glenn, San Francisco DC DeMeco Ryans, Denver DC Ejiro Evero, Dallas DC Dan Quinn, former Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich and Cincinnati Bengals coordinators Lou Anarumo and Brian Callahan. All of those candidates, excluding Ryans, at some point interviewed with Arizona.

The search came down to finalists Anarumo, Flores and Kafka after the team opted against offering any of the targets in the first round of interviews.

Flores, however, took the Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator job two days before his second interview was scheduled, leaving Arizona with just Anarumo and Kafka as finalists.

Additionally, Payton took the Denver Broncos’ head-coaching opening and Reich landed with the Carolina Panthers, where he hired Evero. Quinn returned to the Cowboys after two interviews with the Cardinals.

The hiring follows Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill selecting Monti Ossenfort as the team’s general manager on Jan. 16. Ossenfort replaced Steve Keim. This marks Ossenfort’s first big hire as GM.

The Cardinals were in the market for a new head coach after firing Kliff Kingsbury from the role a day after the 2022 regular season came to a close. Kingsbury and Keim were 10 months removed from signing a contract extension that ran through 2027.

Keim resigned after the NFL’s regular season ended, citing the need to focus on his health. He was on health-related leave dating back to mid-December.

Arizona is in full reset mode after posting a 4-13 record this past regular season, the worst mark in Kingsbury’s four-year tenure. The Cardinals went 28-37-1 (.432) under the former head coach.

With quarterback Kyler Murray locked into a long-term deal, Bidwill set off this offseason hoping to find a front-office leader and head coach who could push the team back into playoff contention.

Before this season, Arizona had seen its record improve by three wins year after year since Kingsbury’s arrival in 2019, highlighted by the team’s 11-6 mark in 2021 that included a postseason berth.

The end of that year left a lot to be desired, however, with Arizona going 3-5 to finish the regular season before an embarrassing Wild Card showing against the Los Angeles Rams.

The troubling signs to end the 2021 season ultimately continued this past year.

Arizona’s offense floundered despite the front office equipping it with tight end Zach Ertz, re-signing running back James Conner and trading for receiver Hollywood Brown and Robbie Anderson to place around DeAndre Hopkins.

It added to the narrative about Kingsbury’s ability to be creative and adjust as quarterback Kyler Murray, the No. 1 pick in 2019, posted his worst QBR and passer rating of his career in 2022.

Before heading to the desert, Ossenfort spent the past three seasons with the Tennessee Titans as their director of player personnel. He also spent 15 seasons with the New England Patriots and three years with the Houston Texans in various roles including director of college scouting.

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