Kyzir White proving Jonathan Gannon, Cardinals right early into Arizona tenure
Sep 24, 2023, 8:15 PM | Updated: Sep 25, 2023, 11:29 am
(Photo by Mike Christy/Getty Images)
GLENDALE — When you go out on a limb for someone, whether it be a former co-worker looking for a fresh start or one of your own, you’re putting your word on the line.
It’s not always a success story, either. Sometimes things work out in your favor. Sometimes they don’t and you look like a crazy person for even suggesting it.
But when it comes to head coach Jonathan Gannon and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis putting their reputations and words on the line for ex-Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Kyzir White this offseason, the Cardinals are firmly in the former through three games.
“He’s a captain for a reason,” Gannon said after Arizona’s 28-16 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. “He wears the green dot. He keeps those guys composed even when it doesn’t look like it’s going good but what I’m proud of is not just Kyzir, but really all the captains and the entire team is the fight. They’ve got to keep punching. It’s a heavy weight battle.
“You’ve got to keep fighting and you’re going to take some shots, but you’ve got to give your shots back too. I liked his demeanor all day. I really liked his week of practice and obviously the production was there.”
White has been everything and more for Arizona’s scrappy defense. He’s not only stuffing the stat sheet week in and week out, he’s bringing valuable knowledge of how Gannon and Rallis run things in addition to adding a leadership aspect that cannot be understated, especially with safety Budda Baker on injured reserve until at least Week 6.
If you needed an example of the problem White has been for opposing defenses, look no further than Sunday.
Pacing all defenders with 14 tackles, White was flying around from the start.
It was his late-game heroics, though, that stole the show.
Down 12 with 3:05 left to play, the Cowboys had one last chance at mounting a comeback with a late red zone trip. Needing six yards for the score, quarterback Dak Prescott dropped back to pass, but instead of linking up with Brandin Cooks for the score, the signal caller found a waiting White for the game-sealing interception.
It marked the Cowboys’ first turnover of the season.
The best part? White had been messing up the play call throughout the week of game prep.
As they say, practice makes perfect.
“I was surprised he threw it to be honest,” White said. “I was telling myself this morning, I was praying that if Rallis calls that defense and that play call that I won’t mess it up. I think I was 100% on it all game so, I was proud of myself in that regard.”
“I just try to go out there and play hard for (Gannon) and I don’t want to let him down,” the LB added. “To seal the deal and for him to get his first win, that felt good.”
But while he didn’t have an issue on the play call this time around, he may have some explaining to do.
Having followed Gannon and Rallis from Philadelphia as arguably Arizona’s biggest free agent addition, it was only right that White did the honors of dousing his head coach following his first career win.
What he didn’t know, though, is that Gannon isn’t the biggest fan of the showering.
“He didn’t like it? He will be alright,” White said with a laugh and a smile.
No love lost
Having played in the same division as the Cowboys during his time as an Eagle, White knows Dallas all too well.
The memories are anything but fond.
“That felt good for sure,” he said. “I just came from Philly, so I still have it in my blood. It felt good. I don’t like the Cowboys at all and never did.”
What feels just as nice is the clap back he’s about to have with numerous family members who support the silver and blue.
“They are texting me that they are rooting for the Cowboys. I feel like that I had a lot to prove today,” White said. “I wanted to upset some family members that were going against me. I am going to talk trash right after I get out of (the press conference).”