Just a number: Jonathan Gannon concerned with knowledge, not age

Feb 26, 2023, 8:08 AM

TEMPE — “Experience is not synonymous with knowledge.”

If you needed a disclaimer into Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon’s thinking, look no further than one of his latest “JGisms.”

Gannon has quickly gotten down to business when it comes to building his coaching staff. He already has three rather large positions officially out of the way in offensive coordinator (Drew Petzing), defensive coordinator (Nick Rallis) and assistant head coach/special teams coordinator (Jeff Rodgers).

Not lost on the hires has been the youthfulness Gannon is bringing into the fold, with Petzing, 35, and Rallis, 29, heading NFL coordinator positions for the first time.

For some, that might be cause for alarm. Not for Gannon.

“I don’t really look at these guys when I’m listening to them talk and getting to know the people — and not just Nick … these other people that you’re going to start to see that are going to start to come onboard very soon — I’m really not worried about their age,” Gannon said during Rallis’ introductory press conference on Wednesday.

“I’m worried about if they can serve the players and get the job done as it relates to what we need to do as an organization and the Arizona Cardinals win. And that’s what I’m doing.”

Of the eight names first linked to Arizona’s growing coaching staff — official or reported — the average age sat right around 36 with assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers and tight ends coach Ben Steele the oldest of the bunch at 44.

Per USA Today, the average age of NFL coaching staffs entering 2022 was 42.7 years old. The Philadelphia Eagles, where Gannon served as DC, had the eighth-youngest coaching staff at 40.6.

The Kansas City Chiefs, who beat the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium, were on the other side of the age spectrum at 45.6.

Arizona’s average age will surely change between now and when the coaching staff is completely filled out. As for which way the needle moves, that’s up for debate.

“I don’t think there’s an advantage or disadvantage to any age to be 100% honest,” Rallis said. “I think there’s a lot of things that go into making a coach a good coach. Whether I’m 29 or I’m 55 years old and I’m still trying to be a great coach, there’s certain things that you have to do.

“Whether it’s acquiring more knowledge and adapting to the game or being able to connect with players so that you can coach them better. … I’m always striving to get better at those things no matter what age I am.”

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