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Why the Super Bowl Game and Schematics Should Matter

Syndication: Arizona Republic Antranik Tavitian/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

As Cardinals fans and pundits have been discussing what the team’s priorities should be in hiring the next head coach, one popular question regarding Eagles’ DC Jonathan Gannon is —- should “one game” matter?

To that question I say a resounding yes.

I could cut right to the chase here to make the assertion that if the Cardinals are ever going to contend for a Super Bowl, they are going to have to have a plan for stopping Patrick Mahomes and the top QBs in the NFL.

Lou Anarumo has already demonstrated such a plan for Patrick Mahomes, having found a way to beat him and the Chiefs 3 times in the last 4 games, while limiting Mahomes to a pedestrian average QBR of 72.7.

Plus, the Bengals did a fabulous job of stifling Josh Allen in Buffalo on their way to the 2022 AFC Championship. In their stunning 27-10 win over the Bills, they thwarted Josh Allen to the tune of a 55.6 QBR.

If the Bengals’ stifling of Mahomes and Allen is not a clear and compelling qualification for Lou Anarumo to be the Cardinals head coach, then what is?

Why this year’s Super Bowl game should matter —- is not only because the Eagles lost to Mahomes and the Chiefs —- it’s HOW the Eagles’ defense was clueless and inept in the second half of the game.

The woeful manner in which the Eagles’ defense played in that second half was eerily similar to they way Vance Joseph’s defense plays quite frequently in the second half.

Cases in point:

  • No clear indication of any half-time adjustments
  • Ineffective pass rush
  • Losing contain time and time again
  • Leaving RBs wide open —- even in the red zone
  • Pass coverage confusion, particularly in handling motion, leading to wide open TDs
  • Players getting frozen on play action
  • Costly ill-timed penalties
  • Giving up scores on virtually every key possession

Cardinals fans were able to witness all of the Eagles’ defensive ineptitude in full color at State Farm Stadium, the way we have been accustomed to during the Cardinals current streak of losing 12 of their last 13 games in the same building.

The whole point of hiring a new defensive-minded head coach is to correct the team’s colossal defensive deficiencies, correct?

Therefore, in light of what we saw in the Super Bowl, how can Cardinals fans feel confident that Jonathan Gannon is the man with the plan?

Especially when Lou Anarumo has manifested a masterful plan that has succeeded in his defense, comprised of good, solid players (not great, like the Eagles’), being #1 in the NFL this year in confusing and stifling opposing QBs —- that’s right, the Bengals’ defense was #1 in QBR.

The Eagles’ defense was #3 —-so, Jonathan Gannon deserves high praise for that.

However, the Bengals’ #1 QBR ranking even more astounding considering the Bengals’ 2022 strength of schedule was the 6th toughest in the NFL, while the Eagles’ was the 2nd easiest. The Eagles only played 4 playoff teams. The Bengals played 6.

Eagles’ Toughest QBs on Playoff Teams —- Regular Season:

  • NYG —- Daniel Jones
  • MIN —- Kirk Cousins
  • DAL —- Dak Prescott
  • JAX —- Trevor Lawrence

Bengals’ Toughest QBs on Playoff Teams —- Regular Season:

  • BAL —- Lamar Jackson
  • DAL —- Dak Prescott
  • MIA —- Tua Tagovailoa
  • KC —- Patrick Mahomes
  • TB —- Tom Brady
  • BUF —- Josh Allen

For the Bengals’ defense to rank #1 in QBR in light of the toughness of their schedule and the prolific talent of the opposing QBs they faced, is phenomenal.

Let’s remember that over the past two years, Lou Anarumo has had one Pro Bowler, DE Trey Hendrickson, while Jonathan Gannon has had four: OLB Haason Reddick, DE Josh Sweat, DT Javon Hargraves and CB Darius Slay.

So yesterday while fans were trying to process what they saw from the Eagles’ defense in the second half, Jody Oehler floated a theory that the Super Bowl game shouldn’t matter because Monti Ossenfort, in his pursuit of Jonathan Gannon, is prioritizing leadership skills over schematics.

To which PHNX Cardinals’ pundit Johnny Venerable doubled down:

Now, to be fair, it’s not clear whether Jody sand Johnny necessarily agree with the theory —- it seems like they might —- but, in essence, this is a reporting of what they think Monti Ossenfort’s modus operandi is.

The premise is that a year ago, in anticipation of one day becoming a GM, Monti Ossenfort created a list of 12 assistant coaches whom he believes have a certain “it” leadership quality. Three of the names on that list were Bengals’ OC Brian Callahan, Lions’ DC Aaron Glenn and Eagles’ DC Jonathan Gannon.

Ossenfort was able to interview Callahan and Glenn, whom have since been removed from consideration and had been waiting to interview Gannon this week.

My biggest question is how and why Lou Anarumo, based on the remarkable success he had last year helping the once long-shot Bengals reach the Super Bowl wasn’t at or near the top of Monti Ossenfort’s list? In last year’s playoffs no assistant coach stood out more than Lou Anarumo.

Is Jonathan Gannon a stronger leader than Lou Anarumo? If the most successful form of leadership involves giving the players the best competitive edge via the coach’s game-planning schemes, then the schematic edge, without question, goes to Anarumo.

The two most successful head coaches of this era, Bill Belichick and Andy Reid, are soft-spoken Xs and Os schemers. They are classic chess players.

Here is Andrew Sendejo’s take during an interview with Johnny, Bo Brack and the PHNX Cardinals’ crew as to why Jonathan Gannon fits the bill as an “it factor” leader in today’s NFL:

What is your reaction to this interview?

I think Bo Brack asked the most salient question —- isn’t a coach’s relating to and understanding the players what the Cardinals got from Kliff Kingsbury?

Kudus to PHNX Cardinals for providing equal coverage for Lou Anarumo because:

This interview is a slam dunk for every salient reason that Solomon Wilcots explicates.

Give the Cardinals the guy who stifles QB by having his players prepared for motion and play action —- and having them cover all 5 of the the opposing receivers as hard as they can for 60 minutes.

Please sign up the Cardinals for that type of leadership.