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Illuminating Info on JG from NBC’s Peter King

Arizona Cardinals Introduce Jonathan Gannon as Head Coach Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Check out Peter King’s revelations about JG in his iconic MMQB article this morning:

My Thoughts:

  • Despite all the hue and cry from Eagles fans in expressing their disdain for the 2nd year DC who helped lead the Eagles to a 16 win season and a berth in the Super Bowl, Jeffrey Lourie and Howie Roseman offered to pay JG a head coach’s salary in order to retain him. That’s a tremendous sign of respect and appreciation on their part.
  • Some pundits have opined throughout the Eagles’ season that the dynamic duo of Nick Sirianni and Jonathan Gannon served, for all and practical purposes, as co-head coaches. JG is humble enough to refute that. His affinity for Sirianni is bountiful.
  • But, JG, while humbled by the Eagles’ offer, said “I wanted to be a head coach” and he lauded the philosophical fit he felt in Arizona.
  • The fact that Cardinals’ GM Monti Ossenfort was hired a week into the head coaching interview process and therefore, was unable to interview Jonathan Gannon until after the Super Bowl may have been a blessing in the sense that if the Cardinals had offered the Texans early competition for JG, then perhaps they may have made JG an offer.
  • Back then, it appeared as if the Broncos were zeroing in on DeMeco Ryans, so maybe the Texans, fearing that if they were to wait, could miss out on both Ryans and Gannon.
  • Perhaps in an ironic way, JJ Watt deserves some credit foe the Cardinals winding up with JG. Watt’s avid push and endorsement for Ryans to sign with the Texans created quite an emotional stir.
  • In hindsight, I think we now can understand why the Cardinals played things a little coy with the likes of Brain Flores, Dan Quinn and Sean Payton, that is, if JG was MO’s guy from the get-go. If this is the case, one can arrive at the conclusion that Michael Bidwill has been putting his full trust in Monti Ossenfort.
  • For some fans like myself —- for Michael Bidwill to hand over the reins of football operations to a capable, football-savvy GM —- this is the breakthrough we have been hoping for.
  • Peter King also did an excellent job of lauding Lou Anarumo’s head coaching qualifications. Rightfully so. Of course, I was sold on Sweet Lou. I mean Lou’s prepping of his defense (with only one Pro Bowler) to beat Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in 4 of his last 5 chances, with 4 of those games being on the road, imo, was an astronomical feat.
  • However, I can see what a difficult choice that could have been for MO —- largely because of the difference in Anarumo’s and Gannon’s coaching styles and personalities. I have come to realization that as a partner with Monti Ossenfort (MOJO), hiring a more outspoken and charismatic head coach was apt to have a more dynamic kind of “buzz” effect in picking up the spirits of the Cardinals’ players, as well as increasing the team’s ability to sign coaches and key free agents.
  • One of the most compelling aspects of the Cardinals’ hiring of JG is his full commitment to QB Kyler Murray. He told Peter King that “I wouldn’t have taken the job” without Kyler on the roster. With regard to JG recently calling Kyler “an extension of myself,” I tweeted:
  • What’s striking to me is not only how the Cardinals not only wound up with JG, but how they were able to win the Nick Rallis sweepstakes. We are not sure whether the Eagles were one of the teams making a push to sign Nick Rallis, but Rallis’ urge to cone to Arizona with JG speaks volumes to the loyalty of their relationship.
  • MO has talked about alignment since he arrives. Well, there is an automatic alignment now from MOJO to NR.
  • How the Eagles let Nick Rallis slip away, with their DC job now open, is kind of a shocker.
  • Plus, now that JG and NR are in Arizona, will this give the Cardinals an edge in trying to sign the likes of DT Javon Hargrave, DE Brandon Graham and LB T.J. Edwards, and possibly even DT Fletcher Cox, S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and/or CB James Bradberry?

The Super Bowl Coda

  • What was additionally illuminating about Peter King’s MMQB article is what he discovered about the Chiefs’ two huge 4th quarter TDs. JG took full blame for the botched plays on defense —- but with his mea culpa JG also said: “I’ll never be as smart as Andy Reid. But where I do align with him (Andy Reid) philosophically is seven or eight brains are better than one.”
  • JG told PK that he is planning to add a couple of senior advisors to his Cardinals’ staff.
  • The first TD King talked about was Andy Reid’s “Corn Dog” play where Reid had WR Kadarius Toney fake a speed motion to his left and then reverse direction to break loose on an out pass. To which Peter King wrote: “I can’t fault Eagles players and coaches for Corn Dog. How could Philadelphia have seen this coming? Kansas City had called it one time all season—in the second quarter of the season-opener, coincidentally in this same stadium against the Cardinals, on the 23rd offensive snap of the season. Reid called 77 quarters worth of plays, exactly 1,242 snaps over 19 games, without opting for the Jet Motion reverse again.” OH THE IRONY! A COUPLE OF CORN DOGS AT STATE FARM!
  • Regarding the second speed motion play, it was interesting to learn why Skyy Moore was wide open on the swing pass for an easy walk in TD, It turned out this was one of the rare times when JG called a “zero” blitz and none of his 4 cover men were close enough to pick up Moore. JG blames himself for this —- but the profound irony is that Eagles’ fans had been screaming at him all year to call more blitzes.
  • Perhaps JG’s mea culpas might already be frustrating you because of Kliff’s penchant to offer them after every loss. However, let’s remind ourselves that the master of mea culpas is the G.O.A.T., Bill Belichick. In my opinion, this is a very smart coach’s way of letting everyone know—- from fans to the coaches and players —- that “accountability starts with me.”
  • Total respect for what JG said about the 4th quarter blues; “Our players were prepped. I did not do a good enough job myself to put them in a position to make the play. I didn’t do a good enough job to get out of the call what I wanted out of the call. I didn’t give them the tools that they needed to win the down. On the second one, I thought [Mahomes] was gonna play that as a drop back and that [coverage] was a zero [blitz]. Jesus Christ wouldn’t have covered that in a zero.”
  • While JG doesn’t want anyone making excuses for him, he certainly is not the first DC to get out-foxed by Andy Reid in a close game. Secondly, JG joins a long list of Super Bowl DCs who have suffered the 4th quarter blues. Some recent examples are Kyle Shanahan, Bill Belichick, Wade Phillips and Lou Anarumo —- and, of course, the most haunting example for Cardinals fans is Clancy Pendergast.
  • In order to put JG’s 2022 accomplishment as the Eagles’ DC in proper perspective —- with regard to JG’s ability to reflect on shortcomings and to set goals frok one season to the next, let’s take a look at the improvements he and his staff helped to make from 2021 to 2022:
  • Yards Per Game —- 2021: 363 (19th) —— 2022: 301 (2nd)
  • Rushing Yards —- 2021: 125 (23rd) —— 2022: 121 (16th)
  • Passing Yards —- 2021: 237 (15th) —— 2022: 179 (1st)
  • QBR —- 2021 : 102 (28th) —— 2022: 81 (3rd)
  • Sacks —-2021: 49 (3rd) —— 2022: 70 (1st)
  • 3rd Down % —- 2021: 38% (7th) —- 2022: 38% (14th)
  • Points Per Game: —- 2021: 26 (20th) —- 20 (8th)
  • Regular Season Record: —- 2021: 9-8 —- 2022: 14-3
  • Playoffs Record: —- 2021: 0-1 —- 2022: 2-1

Some of these improvements (highlighted above) are absolutely astonishing.

2022 Playoffs Eagles Defensive Rankings Among the 14 Playoff Teams:

  • Yards Per Game: 243 (2nd)
  • Rushing Yards: 119 (10th)
  • Passing Yards: 124 (1st)
  • QBR: 88 (7th)
  • Sacks: 9 (2nd)
  • 3rd Down %: 38% (3rd)
  • Points Per Game: 17.3 (3rd)* —-if you don’t count KC’s defensive TD, the Eagles’ defensive PPG was 15.0 (1st)

The reason why it can help to go to this length to chart JG’s improvements is how such progress is a strong manifestation of his ability to address the improvement areas in a thoughtful and reflective way.

After all, curious reflection, accountability and adaptability are three of JG’s foundational, philosophical pillars.

Thanks to Peter King for his outstanding article and to Ari Meirov for posting the article on twitter.

How are you feeling about the Cardinals hiring of JG and the MOJO connection?