The Cardinals put to an end one of the longest hiring cycles in NFL history on Tuesday when Arizona officially named Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon its new head coach.
Gannon is fresh off his second season in that role for Philadelphia. He fared well, helping the Eagles mount a Super Bowl run thanks to what was largely a stalwart defensive effort.
Gannon becomes the second coordinator to leave the Eagles in as many days after their Super Bowl 57 defeat at the hands of the Chiefs. Shane Steichen took the other remaining coaching opening with the Colts on Monday.
So, we know that Gannon just helped lead a team to a conference title and Super Bowl appearance. But who exactly is he, and what are his credentials for the job beyond that? Here’s what to know about the Cardinals’ replacement for Kliff Kingsbury.
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Who is Jonathan Gannon?
Gannon is set to become the Cardinals’ head coach after 15 years as an assistant at the NFL level. He broke into the league as a quality control coach with the Falcons in 2007 before spending three seasons in the Rams scouting department from 2009 to 2011. He moved back to the sidelines with the Titans in 2012 and has remained there since.
All of Gannon’s experience has come on the defensive side of the ball. He was a defensive quality control coach for two years with the Titans before becoming an assistant defensive backs coach with the Vikings from 2014 to 2017. He learned under Mike Zimmer, a respected defensive mind, during that stop, and that was enough to earn him a job with the Colts.
Gannon spent three seasons as a defensive backs coach with the Colts before he followed offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni to the Eagles in 2021. Sirianni made Gannon his defensive coordinator and in that role, Gannon thrived.
The Eagles sported a top-10 defense in terms of yardage allowed in Gannon’s first season in Philadelphia. The team took a big step forward in his second season, ranking second in yardage allowed and improving to eighth in points allowed after finishing 18th during the previous season.
Philadelphia had its share of covering the Chiefs in its 38-35 loss in Super Bowl 57, but that was a blip on the radar for the Eagles’ otherwise stellar defense. Gannon will now be tasked with building a similarly strong stop unit in the desert as he guides Arizona through a mini rebuild.
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How old is Jonathan Gannon?
Gannon just turned 40 just before the close of the 2022 regular season. He has been in the NFL since following Bobby Petrino from Louisville to Atlanta to coach with the Falcons. He was 24 when his NFL career began.
Gannon’s hiring follows a recent trend of younger coaching hires across the NFL. The difference is that his experience comes on the defensive side of the ball while many of the other young hires are offensive-minded coaches.
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NFL’s youngest head coaches
Where does Gannon rank among the NFL’s youngest coaches? He will be the sixth-youngest man in charge to start the 2023 NFL season.
Incredibly, however, Gannon will be just the third-youngest coach hired during this cycle. His fellow Eagles coordinator Shane Steichen and new Texans coach DeMeco Ryans are just a bit younger than him.
Below is a look at the 10 youngest NFL coaches for 2023 as of Gannon’s hiring date.
Is Jonathan Gannon related to Rich Gannon?
While Jonathan Gannon and Rich Gannon share the same last name, they are not related to one another.
It’s natural that this question would come up after the announcement that Jonathan Gannon would be the head coach in Arizona. After all, he isn’t the best-known coordinator across the NFL.
But no, the Cardinals’ Gannon is of no relation to the Gannon who won a Super Bowl with the Raiders and later became a broadcaster.