Zach Pascal ready to bring out best of Cardinals in reunion with Gannon
May 27, 2023, 7:05 AM | Updated: 9:35 am
TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Zach Pascal and head coach Jonathan Gannon go way back.
Before their one year together in Philadelphia last season, Pascal and Gannon got to better know one another across three years in Indianapolis (2018-2020).
Now, they reunite once more in the desert.
The wideout’s title hasn’t changed over the years. The same can’t be said for Gannon, who has risen up the ranks from a defensive backs coach with the Colts — where his position group battled with Pascal on the regular — all the way to head coach of the Cardinals.
And much like their competitions in Indianapolis, Pascal is ready to bring that same energy to a new organization.
“Even back in Indy … every time I saw JG, it was always a competitive-like conversation,” Pascal said Monday. “We’ll always jaw with each other over like team period. It’s a positive conversation to where we’re trying to bring out the best in each other, whether it’s coaching or me talking trash or whatever it is. … Just happy to be here with him and get to work.
“He knows what I could bring to the table,” the wide receiver added when asked about the familiarity between them. “I love playing for my head coach and he’s one of the coaches I would definitely love to play for.”
Embarking on his sixth NFL season and fifth team, Pascal is hoping to make his impact felt wherever he is needed on the field.
He proved that last season on an Eagles squad led by the pass-catching prowess of A.J. Brown, Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith.
After seeing no less than 74% of available offensive snaps from 2019-2021, Pascal saw that number drop to 29%. That’s not to say his skillset wasn’t utilized elsewhere over the course of the Eagles’ run to a Super Bowl berth, with Pascal seeing a career high 54% of special teams reps.
His versatility to move outside and in on top of his team-first attitude are among the many traits that stand out to Gannon and a big reason for the reunion between coach and player.
“Smart, tough, reliable, always in the right place, wins contested catches, does some dirty work with blocking,” Gannon said Monday. “He’s a bigger guy that can stalemate or win blocks with some safeties and linebackers and for sure corners. Special teams, he can play all core-four.”
“What Zach brings to the table from a football standpoint and a receiver and special teams standpoint, he’s a great addition for us,” the head coach added. “I’m glad he’s here.”
As for where Pascal might fit in with his new team, he’ll likely have more opportunity to make an impact offensively with former No. 1 option DeAndre Hopkins’ release on Friday.
Whatever role Pascal envisioned when he signed this offseason has certainly morphed into something more.
But whatever role that is, Pascal will be ready to contribute on the field and as a leader for an Arizona squad facing a steep uphill climb, something the wideout knows all too well.
“I’ve been an underdog,” Pascal said. “When I hear people say this team doesn’t have enough talent, you can’t even say that.
“It’s crazy, but we have to control what we can control and that’s put the work in so that we could shut them doubters up or whoever’s saying this stuff and continue to control what we can do.”