When Michael Bidwill addressed the Cardinals head coaching search a couple of days ago, he said something to the effect of “we really like the progress we are making.”
So, what was Bidwill referring to when he said “progress”?
Did he mean this?
The #AZCardinals are expected to interview #Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon following the Super Bowl, and the impressive young coach has emerged as a key candidate for Arizona’s head coach search, sources say. This will happen on Monday. pic.twitter.com/prb9pBcHrq— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 12, 2023
- The first question that begs asking is what has changed for Jonathan Gannon since he publicly proclaimed he wasn’t going anywhere because “the Eagles are keeping me”?
Perhaps, Gannon is feeling a little miffed by the fact that Howie Roseman recently hired Vic Fangio for a two-week consultant job with the assignment of advising Gannon and his defensive coaches how to game plan for Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and the Chiefs’ high-powered offense.
Perhaps, Gannon is starting to realize that he could now be in a position to get this aspirations of becoming an NFL head coach jumpstarted.
- The second obvious question is —- what does this mean for Mike Kafka and Lou Anarumo?
One would imagine that they are feeling much the same Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris were feeling after their interviews with Bidwill for the Cardinals’ GM job.
The fact that the Cardinals are interested in yet another defensive minded head coach does not bode well for Mike Kafka. On top of that, seeing as four of the Cardinals’ defensive assistants have landed jobs with other teams, it appears that an overhaul on defense is the owner’s and GM’s top priority.
The fact that the Cardinals are showing heated interest in Jonathan Gannon does not bode well for Lou Anarumo, who could make a strong case that by virtue of his experience and recent success leading a defense of good (but not great) players to two AFC Championship is a row and the Super Bowl in 2021, he’s more qualified.
The wait for Bidwill to make up his mind has no doubt been tough for Kafka and Anarumo because they have been working very hard to get assistant coaches in line to join them in Arizona, if they are hired. Some of the assistants they have been trying to keep in the fold have been interviewing for other assistant or coordinator jobs.
Case in point: Bengals’ QB coach Dan Pitcher, who has been projected by some pundits as Lou Anarumo’s choice for OC. The Bengals recently signed Pitcher to a handsome raise. He has interviewed twice with the Bucs for their OC job. However, word came out this morning that he has decided to stay on with the Bengals this year. Hmmm, curious timing for that announcement, isn’t it?
- The mystery question is why the Cardinals have apparently gone ahead and signed the Jets’ current special team’s coordinator, Brant Boyer, to the Cardinals’ new staff —- without a new head coach in place. Several of us have tried to find a link of Brent Boyer to Mike Kafka and Lou Anarumo and could not detect one. There is one connection that Brant Boyer, Nick Sirianni and Jonathan Gannon all have —- they all previously coached for the Colts, —- although Boyer coached for the Colts as assistant special team’s coach from 2012-2015, while Sirianni was OC and Gannon was defensive back coach for the Colts from 2018-2020. While their time with the Colts did not overlap, perhaps they have an agent or advisor in common?
Defensive rankings the past two seasons:
- Anarumo: YPG: 16th —- PPG: 6th —- QBR: 1st
- Gannon: YPG: 2nd —- PPG: 7th —- QBR: 3rd
- Anarumo: YPG: 9th —- PPG: 5th —- QBR: 1st
- Gannon: YPG: 8th —- PPG: 11th —- QBR: 11th
Defensive Pro Bowlers 2021 + 2022
- Anarumo: Trey Hendrickson
- Gannon: Haason Reddick, Darius Slay, Javon Hargrave, Josh Sweat
These rankings favor Lou Anarumo, particularly in light of the strength of personnel. However, the rankings are very close and are a credit to the coaching acumen of both the candidates.
- Why does it appear that the Cardinals could be most excited about Jonathan Gannon?
He’s a rising star at age 40 and one might imagine that he has assembled the most impressive staff. The Cardinals’ head coaching decision may come down to the total picture of the coaching staff.
Are there some OC candidates and assistant coaches you have in mind?
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