It’s good to feel wanted. It’s better to be loved. Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon felt both emotions during a hectic offseason. Three different NFL franchises wanted Gannon to be their next head coach.
He was a candidate for three head-coaching jobs after interviewing with the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, and Minnesota Vikings last January. And the 39-year-old assistant was considered an “extremely strong contender” for the Houston gig before they hired Lovie Smith.
The rising star coach had been tight-lipped about the interviews when first asked about it at the end of last season. Four months later – after signing on for another year in Philly – Gannon described the experience as “humbling.”
“It was good. It was humbling to have the opportunity to get a chance to interview with a couple different teams,” Gannon told reporters on May 24. “Just excited about being in the seat that I’m in right now. Learned a lot from it, but that’s kind of in the past and I’m focused on right now getting our players better.”
His troops are ecstatic to have Gannon back for a second season, too. He wears the “player’s coach” label with pride, slapped across his youthful face and embodied by his high-energy practices.
“I mean, I like him. I like his personality. I like everything about him,” defensive end Josh Sweat said. “He just wants the best for his guys. It means a lot to me to be with him for another year. As I said, we fell short, we weren’t where we need to be. But this defense, underneath him, we can be so much better.”
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Front 7 Issued Separate Meeting Rooms
When Haason Reddick revealed that Gannon had split up the defensive meeting rooms by position, it caused a bit of a stir. He also brought Jeremiah Washburn over to help coach the defensive ends and linebackers. Why? Gannon explained the decision came out of a talk with head coach Nick Sirianni about maximizing staff.
“Just a little more time on task because we play different forms, different spacing, and we wanted to kind of group those guys together,” Gannon said. “There are times where they’re going to meet together and there are times when they meet separate, but the different front structures that we play felt like it was … [I] sat down with the head coach [Sirianni] and said, ‘Hey, how can we maximize the staff that we have with what we’re doing to ultimately improve our players.’ That’s where we decided to go. I’m excited about it.”
Reddick is in the room with Washburn which features the outside linebackers and defensive ends. The self-described “weapon” sees the new structure as a strong move. The Eagles only registered 29 sacks in 2021, second-worst total in the NFL.
“Last year everybody, as far as d-tackles, inside defensive linemen, and d-ends and outside linebackers, were all in one room from my understanding,” Reddick said, “and now it’s split up which is a great thing because now we can focus on more of what we’re supposed to do with the position itself.”
Not Concerned About Starting Safety Tandem
Philadelphia is expected to roll with a starting safety tandem of Anthony Harris and Marcus Epps. While some are skeptical of the talent and depth at the position, Gannon isn’t worried. He likes the production he got out of the group last season, especially the younger guys like K’Von Wallace and Andre Chachere.
“Production,” Gannon said about why he’s confident in the safeties. “I feel like that room, each guy that’s in that room right now that’s played has shown that they can play at a high level for us. Anthony [Harris] obviously coming back and Marcus [Epps] playing a lot of snaps for us last year, K’Von [Wallace], Dre [Chachere], Jared [Mayden], I feel really good about that room. Everything that I look for in a safety, all those guys in that room have those qualities. Really have to put the work in and then see where it goes.”