Nick Rallis focused on bringing the right energy to Cardinals defense

Feb 22, 2023, 8:08 PM | Updated: 8:27 pm

Arizona Cardinals DC Nick Rallis (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)...

Arizona Cardinals DC Nick Rallis (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — Head coach Jonathan Gannon has a specific vision for the Arizona Cardinals defense.

New defensive coordinator Nick Rallis fits that mold like a glove.

Whether it was Gannon getting Rallis and the rest of the room riled up as he walked in or the two seemingly on the same wavelength with their answers and on-the-fly remarks, it didn’t take long to see the chemistry between the head coach and coordinator during the latter’s introductory press conference on Wednesday.

He may have had some other opportunities — “nothing concrete” — to coach elsewhere, but when it came down to it, Rallis was more than ready to get to work alongside the highly energized Gannon.

“There’s a lot of reasons why I chose this organization. One of them is the guy sitting right next to me,” Rallis said Wednesday. “I have belief in him as a person, as a coach, as a guy that will help me out as a coordinator.

“I feel like this is a great thing here and we’re going to build a winning organization and I wanted to be a part of that. I wanted to contribute however I can as a coordinator to get us to achieving those goals that JG and Monti (Ossenfort) ultimately set for this organization.”

For Gannon, his search for DC largely came down to shared vision and character, two important traits his assistants must have if they want to be a part of the head coach’s staff.

After picking Rallis’ brain and interviewing numerous other candidates, it was clear the former Eagles linebackers coach was the guy for the job.

Having spent the past two seasons together in Philadelphia and simply just talking ball with Gannon for about four years before that didn’t hurt Rallis’ chances, either.

The comfortability and complete faith Gannon has in Rallis is for sure there, hence the head coach handing over play-calling duties to the coordinator. But can that translate into winning football?

Pegged as the youngest DC across the NFL, Rallis takes over a defense filled with a lot of holes that need filling, especially with defensive end J.J. Watt’s retirement and the free agent statuses of lineman Zach Allen and cornerback Byron Murphy, among others.

He may only be a few days on the job, but Rallis isn’t oblivious to the needs this defense has, particularly along the line of scrimmage and in the secondary.

Luckily for the DC, he’s got the perfect example of what is expected from each of his players in safety Budda Baker in addition to his own line of thinking.

“Budda sets the standard on how you play this game,” Rallis said. “It is violent, it is high motor 24/7. … There’s all types of guys on this defense that play to that standard and we’re going to continue to demand to push that even further and for everyone to be at that standard of playing violently and being explosive.”

“One thing that I always strive to be and expect from my staff defensively is to be highly emotionally intelligent and to be the same person every single day,” the DC added. “I refer to it often as emotional intelligence of ultimately being in the state of mind where you are optimal to solve problems. That is not the same thing for being energetic. I think you need to have both.”

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