How Jonathan Gannon bounced back from Super Bowl loss to land Cardinals job in less than 48 hours
TEMPE, Arizona. Jonathan Gannon’s path to becoming the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals began long before general manager Monty Ossenforth picked him up at his hotel around 11 a.m. Monday to drive Gannon to the Cardinals headquarters in Tempe. to start. of what became a two-day interview.
It started about a year ago and at first had nothing to do with Gannon, who had been the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator for the past two seasons.
Ossenforth was still director of personnel for the Tennessee Titans when he interviewed the general manager during last year’s hiring cycle. He recalled being asked who he would interview for a head coach job, and Ossenforth listed several names. But he didn’t know any of the coaches he mentioned – they were just good coaches. Last summer, Ossenforth decided to change that. He began contacting league assistants he felt had head coaching potential to get to know them, talk about football, and discuss their vision if they ever became head coaches.
“I had a lot of great conversations,” Ossenforth said on Thursday.
One of them was with Gannon.
When Ossenforth was appointed general manager of the Cardinals on January 16, his first task was to lead the search for a head coach to replace Cliff Kingsbury, who had been fired a week earlier. Thanks to Ossenforth’s work last summer, Gannon was one of the names on the GM list – and this time he actually knew the people on the list.
However, Ossenforth’s plan to interview Gannon hit a snag. By the time Ossenforth was hired, the window for interviews with playoff coaches had already closed, meaning the Cardinals would have to wait until Gannon’s Eagles were eliminated.
So the cardinals waited. And waited. The Eagles continued to win as they advanced to Super Bowl LVII, which coincidentally was scheduled to take place at the Cardinals’ home field at State Farm Stadium, and Philadelphia was going to use Arizona Stadium all week.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals polled nine other candidates.
Gannon’s path to the Cardinals began in earnest even before the Eagles lost in the Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman approached Gannon the morning before the Super Bowl and asked if he knew the Cardinals were interested in interviewing him. Hanno wasn’t there. Roseman said they would talk about it after the game.
After the game, Roseman approached Gannon again with some news: he would not be flying back with the team in the morning because he had an interview with the Cardinals the next day. That night, Gannon said he retired to his hotel room and watched a film of the game in which his defense lost a season-high 38 points.
As soon as he learned about the interview, Gannon had to hastily change his approach. He had to separate the Super Bowl loss and move on to the interview.
“That’s when I turned on that mindset and said, ‘Okay, okay, let me stop. I need to clean myself up a bit, because I was clearly overwhelmed by the game, take a shower, practice, come and fire your weapon, ”said Gannon. “So that’s what I did.
Luckily for Gannon, he had the right clothes for the interview because he was wearing it on the Eagles flight to Arizona.
Since the Eagles’ buses left the team’s hotel at 10 am on Monday, and Ossenforth was due to drop by and pick up Gannon in about an hour, Gannon had a morning to collect his thoughts and write a few notes.
“Obviously, I’ve been preparing for this opportunity for a long time,” Gannon said. “And basically I didn’t have a book. I didn’t have a paper.
“I had one note card. I showed [Cardinals owner] Michael [Bidwill] my Super Bowl call list and said, “This is how I do things. I write by hand. And in the end we talked about what was in my brain and what was in my heart.
Gannon was scheduled to fly back to Philadelphia at 6:30 p.m. Monday night, but was asked if he had enough clothes to stay overnight again. He did, and it led to him, Bidwill, and Ossenforth going out to dinner on Monday before talking on Tuesday.
“When I came in here and did the interview, I was very open-minded and I used the interview to explain my vision and really wanted to see if my vision of managing the team matched that of Michael and Monty,” Gannon said. — And so it happened.
By the time he finally returned to Philadelphia on Tuesday, he was already the head coach of the Cardinals.
But his chaotic week isn’t over yet.
He spent Tuesday evening at home, and flew back to Arizona on Wednesday with his wife, Gina; daughter Lola; and two sons, Rocco and Angelo.
“Here and there,” Gannon said. “Back and forth.”
All this led to the morning press conference on Thursday. He took a seat at the table in the Cardinals’ team meeting room between Bidville and Ossenforth, and was introduced as the 11th head coach for the Cardinals since they moved to Arizona in 1988.
“The last four or five days have been completely normal for me,” Gannon said. “You have to adapt as things come to your door and they have been exciting. Obviously, I have a lot of energy and emotion that was put into the game and then lost in that game and then stayed here for the night, not knowing that I would stay the night and interview for the head coach position.
“But you take everything calmly and do everything in your power. And I will say that it was a fun 48 hours. I’ll say this because I liked it.”