Imagine a coach who jumps up and down after a big play. Someone who might run onto the field and high-five a player in the middle of a game. That’s the kind of energy the new defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles is bringing.
Jonathan Gannon is a bit of a wild card heading into the 2021 campaign. This will mark the first time he’s ever called the defensive plays despite 14 years of experience in the NFL. Gannon made his bones as a secondary coach in Minnesota and Indianapolis before arriving in Philadelphia this offseason.
Anthony Harris, who inked a one-year deal in Philly last week, played under him for three seasons with the Vikings when Gannon was assistant defensive backs coach. The 29-year-old safety fondly recalled the coach’s full-throttle personality and contagious energy during a Zoom call.
“He’s going to bring some energy,” Harris told reporters. “He’s going to be somebody who has that balance of being dialed into the point of letting you know what’s expected and what the expectations are.
“But he’s also going to be that guy right there with you, jumping around when you make a play. So I imagine he’ll be right there next to guys, maybe even demonstrating some of the drills. He’s just that type of guy who loves football, who loves being around the players, and ultimately just wants to win.”
Gannon has yet to address the media, so Harris was asked to paint a picture. The Virginia native admitted that one of the reasons he chose Philly was to be closer to home as well as to reconnect with Gannon and Rodney McLeod since the two players overlapped at the University of Virginia.
“He was a big mentor for me,” Harris said of McLeod. “He showed me how to put in the work and study the game. I just think it was a great fit.”
Harris isn’t sure what his role will be in Gannon’s defense, but he’s open to playing multiple positions. He was “interchangeable” in Minnesota, seeing time in the deep post while sometimes rotating down to covering the slots or moving up inside the box to stuff the run.
“I played everything in that defense,” Harris said. “Successful defenses require that a lot.”
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Harris Hypes Up Eagles Fans, ‘Electric’ Atmosphere
Harris had a front-row seat for the way Eagles fans embrace a winning football team. He was the enemy in 2017 as a member of the visiting Vikings in the NFC Championship Game when the Eagles rolled 38-7 to advance to the Super Bowl. Harris recalled an “electric” atmosphere. He’s looking forward to being on the other side of it in 2021.
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“I remember being in the warmup, the Meek Mill song playing, and the players dancing, embracing it, and the crowd going wild,” Harris said. “I remember the crowd just being electric and rallying the team to get back into the game. That’s something I’m excited about and looking forward to, just that extra burst of energy.”
So, what type of player are the Eagles getting? A non-stop worker who fights until the whistle blows.
“You can talk schemes and being put in positions but once the ball snaps, all those things go out the window,” Harris said. “At the end of the day, it’s just all about effort, you know that want to of wanting to be the first there and if not the first there making sure you get there before the whistle’s blown.”
Eagles Release WR Deontay Burnett
The Eagles made a minor roster move on Tuesday by cutting Deontay Burnett. That leaves the squad with seven wide receivers heading into training camp: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Jalen Reagor, Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, John Hightower, Quez Watkins, Khalil Tate. They are widely expected to draft a pass-catcher in the first round, too. Two Alabama standouts — Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith — continue to gain steam as names to watch thanks to their chemistry with Jalen Hurts.