By Max Harper
So, it turns out that Jonathan Gannon did have other things on his mind when he was the Eagles defensive coordinator and his game plan came up woefully short in a 38-35 loss to the Chiefs back in February.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman told 94WIP yesterday that the the Cardinals’ impermissible phone contact with Gannon was “was handled at the ownership level and at the league level,” via Audacy.com.
It’s unclear who at the league contributed to the result — basically a draft-pick exchange that harmed the Cardinals and boosted the Eagles.
Roseman also disputed a report from Marcus Hayes of the Inky that the Eagles are “furious” with Gannon, who took the call that violated the rules. That’s no surprise, since Howie usually takes up residence on the high road. (Case in point, he repeatedly refused to complain about the poor quality of the surface at Super Bowl LVII, even though it clearly undermined his team’s pass rush.)
Did the Cardinals simply make that one phone call, or was there something more to distract Gannon from his Super Bowl preparations?
Gannon admitted on Tuesday that Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort asked shortly after the NFC Championship (at a time when contact was forbidden) whether Gannon “would you be interested in interviewing if the timing gets pushed back to after Super Bowl.”
Gannon said yes.
The fact that he knew with certainty that he’d be interviewed after the Super Bowl created a distraction. He’d be, at a minimum, thinking about the interview to come as he got ready for the game. He possibly spent time preparing for the interview, including making calls to potential staff members who would join him in Arizona.
The distraction becomes even more significant if Ossenfort told Gannon he’d be getting the job. How could Gannon not spend time that should have been devoted to preparing the Philly defense for the Super Bowl thinking about and/or acting on his planning for the next phase of his career — the one that represents the culmination of his coaching dreams?
If the Eagles opted to explore how and why the defense failed to be ready for — for example — adjusting to Kansas City motions and shifts (a CLEAR issue with the Eagles defense that was exposed twice in the second half), it didn’t take a genius to wonder whether Gannon was secretly spending time that should have been devoted to watching Kansas City film (specifically, the Week One game at Arizona, when the Chiefs used the same play that was used in a key spot in the Super Bowl) to preparing to become the Arizona head coach?
Again, the violation was blatant. In lieu of the league imposing discipline, the Eagles and Cardinals were permitted to resolve it among themselves. Many throughout the league remain confused, especially since neither the Saints nor the Buccaneers received anything for the blatant tampering by the Dolphins with Sean Payton and Tom Brady in early 2022.
Why was compensation not appropriate there but proper here? It seems as if the Eagles were able to persuade both the league and the Cardinals that the tampering actually harmed their strategic interests. Presumably, in the Super Bowl.
Bottom line? It feels like there’s A LOT more to this, and it feels like we’re never going to get the full story on what happened and how it came to light.