The Reporter (Lansdale, PA)
Gannon ready to lead Cards after whirlwind process
Jonathan Gannon said multiple times Thursday that he’s a big believer “in being where your feet are.”
His two feet have taken him through quite the whirlwind over the past 96 hours.
Gannon officially was introduced as the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach on Thursday morning, just four days after the Super Bowl, his final game as defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles lost 3835 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
The 40-year-old only had a few hours to prepare for his interview with the Cardinals on Monday and his approach to arguably the biggest meeting of his professional life could be instructive about how he’ll approach his first NFL head coaching job.
“I got in here and just let it rip,” Gannon said.
The Cardinals liked what they heard. Now he’s the team’s fourth head coach in seven years.
Gannon will team with new general manager Monti Ossenfort, who was hired last month, on a franchise overhaul following a 4-13 season that included an avalanche of injuries and offthe-field distractions. The coach’s hiring comes after a meandering search that took more than a month.
Ossenfort said the Cardinals interviewed about 10 candidates before settling on Gannon.
“Ultimately, our process led us to Jonathan,” Ossenfort said. “Jonathan’s energy when he entered the room — it was nonstop from the beginning — all the more impressive coming off a Super Bowl just hours before he stepped in our room.”
Gannon replaces Kliff Kingsbury, who was fired after going 28-37-1 over four seasons.
About a dozen current Cardinals players attended Thursday’s news conference, including quarterback Kyler Murray, who is just six weeks removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee. Murray’s presence was appreciated by Gannon, who gave that love right back during his introduction.
“Not too many times you take over a team and you have a franchise quarterback,” Gannon said. “That was very appealing.”
Gannon’s resume took a bit of a hit during the Super Bowl. The Eagles coughed up a 10-point halftime lead and couldn’t stop Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, even though the MVP wasn’t moving at his best because of a sprained ankle.
That hiccup wasn’t enough to deter Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill, who is trying to find a leader who can help the franchise win its first NFL championship since 1947.
Until the Super Bowl, the Eagles had a stellar defensive season. They had the NFL’s No. 2 defense and led the league with 70 sacks during the regular season — 15 more than any other team.
“We’re going to be adaptable, we’re going to be violent, we’re going to be explosive and we’re going to be smart,” Gannon said.
Gannon inherits a team with some quality players — including Murray, safeties Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson, and linebackers Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins. The Cardinals also have the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
JOHNSON, PASTRANA SEEKING NEW THRILLS >> Travis Pastrana has jumped out of a plane without a parachute but never driven NASCAR’s top Cup Series car over 40 mph. He never took the car for so much as a single spin on the high-banked, high-speed track at Daytona International Speedway. And despite a previous dalliance with NASCAR, Pastrana had never before tried to qualify for the Daytona 500.
So as the action sports star found himself standing on the grid, just a car apart from good friend and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, it might have been a great time for Pastrana to ask for some last-minute pointers from the two-time Daytona 500 winner.
Johnson has just returned to NASCAR after a two-year stint in the IndyCar Series and, like Pastrana, the aging superstars were not guaranteed a spot in Sunday’s season-opening spectacle.
But the duo skipped the small talk about entry or exit or throttle or speed.
Pastrana watched Johnson, making select starts this season, attempt his lap on the videoboard. It was a rough and bumpy ride with his new Legacy Motor Club team that alarmed Johnson, who after two years away has no idea what the Next Gen car is supposed to feel like.
“You are a professional man!” Pastrana gushed to Johnson after the session.
When it was Pastrana’s turn to qualify in a Toyota from 23XI Racing, his ride was much smoother and, like Johnson, fast enough for the duo to claim two of the four open spots in the 40-driver Daytona 500 field.
Just like that, a Daytona 500 champ and an X Games champ will be racing for one of the biggest prizes in NASCAR.
There were six drivers vying for the spots, with Johnson and Pastrana earning the two awarded through time trials. The other four were set for a pair of Thursday night qualifying races that finalize the field.
JACOB DEGROM SAYS TIGHTNESS IN SIDE MINOR >> Texas Rangers ace Jacob deGrom said Thursday he is already further ahead than normal this spring training, even after being held out of the team’s first official workout.
The Rangers kept deGrom off the field a day earlier after the right-hander reported feeling tightness in his left side from throwing before he got to Arizona. His past two seasons with the New York Mets were shortened significantly by injuries.
“Obviously what I’ve been through the last couple of years, I’ve dealt with some things, and this is very minor,” deGrom said. “Left side was a little tight, I mentioned that to them. ... They just said, let’s take a couple of days off and knock this all the way out and then resume.”
The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, who signed a $185 million, fiveyear contract in December, said he threw off the mound “close to six times” before reporting to camp. He said he would usually only do that two or three times going into spring training.
SOURCE: LOVE DISCUSSING BUYOUT >> Kevin Love’s long, winding run with the Cleveland Cavaliers could be ending after nearly nine years.
The five-time All-Star forward has discussed the possibility of a contract buyout with the Cavs after being dropped from their rotation, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Love is in the final year of a $120 million, four-year extension he signed in 2018.
MORETT-CURTIS RETIRES AS PENN STATE COACH >> Char Morett-Curtiss announced her retirement as Penn State’s field hockey coach Wednesday after a career that spanned 39 seasons.
She will continue to remain with the team in an advising role.
Morett-Curtiss has been with the Nittany Lions for the majority of her time in the sport, first playing for Penn State from 197579 and making a return as the head coach in 1987. She took quick detours with Old Dominion (1980-1984) and Boston College (1984-1987).
Morrett-Curtiss led Penn State to an overall record of 575-239-16, six Final Four appearances and 30 NCAA Tournament berths.
She capped her coaching career with a 17-4 record in 2022 and made one last Final Four appearance.