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Is Jonathan Gannon’s appointment of his own captains a wise decision?

Could Gannon’s decision to forgo a team vote for captains backfire on him?

Philadelphia Eagles v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Did the Arizona Cardinals’ new head coach, Jonathan Gannon, make a wise choice by appointing the team’s captains?


Did the Arizona Cardinals’ new head coach, Jonathan Gannon, make a wise choice by appointing the team’s captains?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    (199 votes)
  • 40%
    (135 votes)
334 votes total Vote Now

Could Gannon’s decision to forgo a team vote backfire on him and the team?


Could Gannon’s decision to forgo a team vote for the team’s captains backfire on him?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    (153 votes)
  • 52%
    (167 votes)
320 votes total Vote Now

One could make the argument that because so many players on this year’s roster and practice squad are new to the organization, the head coach might be more apt to appoint the team’s captains, rather than leave the results up to a team vote.

In addition, once could argue that Jonathan Gannon’s top priority here was modeling for the team what he believes are the most qualified and deserving leaders on the team.

The counters to these arguments are that Gannon and the vast majority of his staff are new to the organization themselves —- and for a head coach who preaches “team first”, wouldn’t he at least want to gauge what the team thinks? Wouldn’t he want to pay the team that kind of respect?


What’s very curious about the choices Gannon made are that 5 of the 6 appointees (QB Kyler Murray, T D.J. Humphries, RB James Conner, S Budda Baker and LB/ST’s ace Dennis Gardeck) are players who were acquired by Steve Keim, either through the draft or free agency. The one exception is LB Kyzir White, who played good ball (65.0) at WILB last season for JG in Philly.

In my opinion, if the players had been given the opportunity to vote, only 3 of the 6 appointees would have been slam dunks:

  • S Budda Baker
  • RB James Conner
  • LB/ST’s ace Dennis Gardeck.

The riskiest of the appointees was QB Kyler Murray, who is not currently on the team’s 53 man roster. Both JG and Cardinals’ OC Drew Petzing have been raving about Kyler’s leadership.


If what Gannon and Petzing are saying about Kyler Murray turns out to be true, then what a breakthrough this could be for Kyler and the team.

The potential problems, in my opinion, are:

  • Gannon and Petzing have yet to see Kyler take one practice snap in the team’s offense.
  • The kinds of “levels of engagement” that Petzing is praising about Kyler are normal things one would hope and expect from any player.
  • An obvious caveat with regard to Kyler’s participation during the off-season was the $10M off-season participation at the team facility incentive that was included in his contract. Fact is, the compensation Kyler was receiving for his participation during OTAs blew away the participation bonuses of his teammates’. Typically, that doesn’t sit well with teammates.
  • Would Kyler’s teammates have voted him in as captain last year? Per my reliable sources, not a chance. How the players would have voted for him this year may not have been the kind of slam dunk that some fans would hope. No one, including any of the coaches and players, truly know yet whether Kyler will choose to play this season.
  • Fans are now convinced that Kyler’s captaincy ensures that he will indeed play this season, perhaps even sooner than later. But, what if, for one reason or another, Kyler does not wind up playing?
  • Could “Josh is our guy” become deja vu all over again? Thank you, Yogi.

The second riskiest appointee for captaincy is D.J. Humphries.

D.J. is outstanding behind the mic —- he’s a gregarious, flat-out hoot and has a penchant for creating superb sound bites like the one he made when asked whether the team under JG and staff were experiencing a change in culture and without batting an eye, D.J. said, “change in culture? This is a culture shock!”

The questions about D.J. have little to nothing to do with his charismatic personality.

It was curious to see Jonathn Gannon hitch his wagon to D.J. Humphries practically from the moment he was hired. Gannon went as far as to laud D.J.’s outstanding “football integrity.”

But, here are the potential problems:

  • Throughout D.J.’s 8 year tenure with the Cardinals he has played in 83 of 142 games. That is 62.9% of the games. In recent years he’s been more reliable, but last season he was placed on the season-ending IR due to a back injury after 8 games.
  • D.J.’s replacement at LT was Josh Jones, the team’s 2020 3rd round pick from Houston. Josh Jones not only outplayed D.J., he was the highest graded player on the entire Cardinals’ offense at 75.3. Jones also had the only run blocking grade in the 70s on the offensive line.
  • Yet, despite JG’s insistence that “all starting jobs are open to competition”, it appeared very clearly that the coaches had already decided that D.J. was going to be the starter at LT, because, unlike his former bookend Kelvin Beachum and his teammate Josh Jones who were asked to compete regularly in the pre-season games, D.J., was only asked to take 11 snaps —- and in those 11 snaps his grades across the board were in the below average 50s, while Josh Jones’ were right where he left off —- in the commendable mid-70s. Inexplicably, with no clear depth behind D.J., Jones was shipped off for a mere 5th round pick.
  • D.J. has graded well at LT in recent years and he made the Pro Bowl as an alternate in 2021. But, what happens if age and injuries have caught up with D.J.? Josh Jones is now a Texan. In the one game the coaches tried Kelvin Beachum at LT this pre-season versus the Broncos, he graded 53.6. And Ilm Manning is an under-sized, un-drafted rookie, who is now appearing on the Cardinals’ depth chart as a backup LG. Yet, the player listed as D.J. backup is Carter O’Donnell who spent a couple of years on the Colts’ practice squad and has yet to play an NFL snap.
  • Lastly, this could very likely be D.J. Humphries’ last season with the Cardinals. Last season, after holding out of OTAs and holding-in during training camp, Steve Keim gave D.J. a 3 year $66.8M contract extension with $34M guaranteed. This off-season he agreed to convert his $8M roster bonus into a signing bonus. The gist is that in order to avoid $22.9M cap hits on D.J. contract for the next two seasons, the Cardinals can save $34.7M on the cap by releasing him, while incurring $13.8M in dead cap money.

When Bruce Arians arrived in Arizona in 2013, he hitched his wagon right away to Darnell Dockett. How many times did we see BA summon Darnell to “break ‘em down, Dock.” But, hitching the wagon to Darnell Dockett was a wise choice for BA, seeing as not only had Dock made an All-Pro team and multiple Pro Bowls, Dock showed up big-time at the Super Bowl delivering 3 impressive sacks on Ben Roethlisberger.

But, most of all, Darnell Dockett was one of the most durable Cardinals of all time. Including Dock’s year with BA, he played in 156 of his 158 games with the Cardinals. And in 2013, Dock recorded 46 tackles, 36 solo. 12 TFL and 4.5 sacks, starting all 16 games.

Can Jonathan Gannon get that kind of production and durability this season from D.J. Humphries? Let’s hope so because....

If D.J. isn’t durable this season, the irony is, that could have a significant impact as to whether Kyler Murray chooses to return, given the inexperience at LT behind #74.

Like they say, “you can’t help the club from the tub.”

The third riskiest appointee as captain is Kyzir White.

By all accounts, Kyzir White has looked superb in practice, and he looked very physical in his one preseason appearance, grading 68.7 in 10 snaps.

Yet, this year brings a number of firsts for Kyzir. First time captain. First time playing the MIKE ILB. First time playing in Arizona in the NFC West. First time wearing the green dot. Kyzir, who is a converted safety to linebacker, has a lot on his plate. It would be a coup for JG and Nick Rallis if Kyzir delivers on his talent. However, if he struggles more than the coaches and fans expect, that might call into question his captaincy, which was provided to him by the head coach this early in his tenure in Arizona.

Had the players voted for Kyzir, then that’s a whole different story. It’s quite possible they would have voted for him.

In my opinion, there was a Cardinals’ captain candidate who was more deserving:

  • S Jalen Thompson

Do you think the Cardinals’ players might have voted for Jalen Thompson instead? I do.

Jalen Thompson, imo, is the most glaring omission.

I believe he’s earned those stripes.

Do you?


Do you believe that Jalen Thompson deserves to be team captain?

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  • 60%
    (87 votes)
  • 39%
    (57 votes)
144 votes total Vote Now


Do you believe that JG’s decision to appoint his own captains will backfire on him?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    (46 votes)
  • 68%
    (98 votes)
144 votes total Vote Now

Your thoughts?