The Eagles season has obviously come to an end and its known that Jonathan Gannon is a hot commodity around league fronts. The 39 year old, first time defensive coordinator has said to have an eye opening amount of respect from organizations around the NFL. Jonathan Gannon has currently interviewed for three vacant head coaching positions.
Those organizations include Broncos, Vikings, and Texans and they have all shown high interest. This is not by coincidence. Gannon shares history with each one of these organizations in some way. The Texans GM Nick Caserio and Jonathan Gannon both are John Carroll University alums and have a great relationship. Broncos GM George Paton and Gannon worked together for four seasons in Minnesota and he watched the young assistant DB coach improve more and more every season. Lastly, The Vikings are very familiar with the Mike Zimmer protege and have a ton of respect for Gannon and his coaching style and beliefs.
As of today, he is out of the running for the Broncos HC opening as they’ve narrowed their search down to Dan Quinn, Nathaniel Hackett, and Kevin O’Connell.
From what I can tell is that the Vikings interview was more of a feeler and a kind gesture towards Gannon because of the time he spent as an assistant DB coach.
The Texans on the other hand have a real interest in what Gannon has to offer as a HC. The organization interests are so pressing that they have set up another interview with Gannon and have named him a finalist in their search. Many reporters have actually have went as far as to name Gannon the favorite to land the position.
Now if Gannon were to take one of the two positions, or even another one, the Eagles are left with a vacant DC spot. Will the Eagles look internal or external, an up and comer positions coach, or a proven vet? These are all questions that Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni have to start cracking down immediately. There are pros and cons to both internal and external, young or old, but this team needs a specific type of coach to get the absolute best of our their players. Below I’ll name some candidates that would fit extremely well with this organization moving forward.
Don “Wink” Martindale
By surprise to almost everyone, The Ravens and Martindale came to a mutual agreement to part ways last week. Now if you have watched football over the last 10 years, you have seen the staple Martindale has put on the Baltimore Ravens defense. In 2012, Martindale was hired as the teams LB coach until 2018 when he became the teams DC.
Martindale is known for his ultra aggressive style of defense by blitzing in disguise packages that constantly trouble the opposing QB. From 2018-2021, the Ravens ranked 1st in the NFL in blitzes. In 2018, the Ravens held the #1 defense in the NFL, 2019 the #4 defense, and 2020 #7 defense. This past season the team had the #26 defense, but his defense was injury ridden of just about every star talented player and starter they had.
Another key piece to his coaching is that he’s a players coach. The Ravens players had the upmost respect for Martindale.
— Kwame Browner (@KNBrowner) November 4, 2019
Wink was a Real one Respect Big Dawg #TownBiz
— Marcus Peters (@marcuspeters) January 22, 2022
That being said, reports are heating up that Wink Martindale is likely to become the New York Giants new DC, which is no bueno for the Eagles. I’m a big time Martindale guy, and I feel he could come into Philly, and make a real difference to our defensive unit.
Early 2021 when the Eagles were looking at potential HC candidates, they interviewed Mayo for the job. Word is they were very close to giving Mayo the job, but obviously they went another way. It’s now 2022, and Mayo has interviewed for a couple HC spots, but it doesn’t seem as there is any real interest other than the Texans who Jonathan Gannon is almost the clear favorite hire.
The Eagles had a strong interest in Mayo, and I feel if Gannon is hired as a HC some where else, it only makes sense for both parties to unite. Mayo having a few years as a DC in Philly could enhance his chances to become a HC in the future.
Learning under one of the best defensive minded coaches of all time in Bill Belichick, Mayo brings a smash mouth defensive style this team hasn’t seen in quite a while. Another positive to hiring Mayo is his age. Being 35 gives Mayo an advantage inside the locker room and understanding the players on a level maybe an older DC couldn’t. He was a true leader under Belichick and was able to lead an entire defensive unit on the football field, there’s no doubt he could do so as a DC.
Mayo would be smart to take the same route former Patriots LB Mike Vrabel took. Start as a LB coach, then DC, then make the jump to HC. It has worked wonders for Vrabel, I think it would do the same for Mayo, and Philly could be the perfect place for that to happen.
Before anyone brings the pitch forks and torches out on me because they don’t know who this is, let me explain. John Pagano has been a part of the NFL for over 25 years. He spent majority of his career in San Diego. In 2002, Pagano started out as an assistant and worked himself all the way up ladder to become the teams DC in 2012 until 2016.
You’ll like this Eagles fans, his specialty is LINEBACKERS. Pagano has worked with some of the leagues premier linebackers, and a big reason they preformed the way they did was due to his coaching. Guys like Shaun Phillips, Shawne Merriman, Bradley Chubb, Von Miller, and Khalil Mack have exceeded expectation while being coached by him . He tends to run a 3-4 style of defense but has coached a 4-3 style as well. The pass rush has always been his #1 priority on defense and I feel that has always been the key here in Philly.
Some of the ways John Pagano went between a 3-4 and 4-3 in Joey Bosa's first NFL game against the Raiders.
1st: First play of the game in their Base.
2nd: Bosa's second play. Standup OLB against 2TE set.
3rd: Bolts in Nickel. Hand in the dirt.
4th: Nickel with two stand up ends. pic.twitter.com/UutcX2Abmj
— 🎄☃️Walking in a Der-Winter Wonderland☃️🎄 (@ZoneTracks) January 18, 2021
Nick Sirianni, Shane Steichen and John Pagano crossed paths in San Diego and know each other quite well. History has shown that Sirianni likes to hire people he is familiar with and Pagano fits that mold.
Not to mention he is also the brother of beloved ex Colts HC Chuck Pagano. Washington Football Team’s HC Ron Rivera once stated that Pagano was one of the smartest football guys he’s ever been around. He also went on to say “When I got to San Diego, I thought I knew a lot of football, but listening to John talk really helped push me over the edge in terms of where I think I needed to be to give myself a chance to be a head coach in this league.”
Having an old school, no BS DC could give this team the old school nastiness and ferociousness it’s been missing and it might bod well for this defensive unit.
The 49ers have one of the games best pass rush units in the NFL, and they have their DL coach Kris Kocurek to thank for that. Since Kocurek took over the 49ers DL in 2019, they have been within the leagues top 10 defensive fronts in pass rush and the running game. A big part of that goes to the current personnel, but Kocurek has gotten that best out of every player in his room.
Sean McVay on #FTTB defense:
“You can see they can do an excellent job of applying pressure with a four-man rush. There's a real buy-in and a commitment to a philosophy. The way that they play with their front four, I think Kris Kocurek does an outstanding job with those guys.”
— Nick Hamilton (@NickHamilton213) January 25, 2022
As you see here, Kocurek’s philosophies are very similar to what the Eagles D line currently runs. 4 man rushes that get home with ease. One thing that Kocurek does better than that current Eagles, is disguises stunts extremely well. In today’s NFL, that is one of the most important task a defensive front should learn and execute and his DL room does that to almost perfection.
Kris Kocurek & Darryl Tapp have done such a fantastic job with this defensive line unit
Also, the stunt design here to free up Bosa is just *chefs kiss* pic.twitter.com/sDQQc9SfVl
— Jordan Elliott (@splash_cousin) January 18, 2022
Howie Roseman’s always stresses the importance of DL play, and if Jonathan Gannon leaves, Kris Kocurek may be the perfect up and coming coach for the job.
These are only a few names of a long list of candidates that make sense for the Eagles to hire, but to me these four potential candidates make entirely too much sense if Jonathan Gannon were to take a HC job.