Jonathan Gannon is now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, but the former Eagles defensive coordinator just gave a little more insight into one of the most important moments of the Nick Sirianni Era in Philly.
Remember when Sirianni gave up offensive play-calling duties midway through his first season as Eagles head coach?
In a story from Zak Keefer of The Athletic, Gannon claims it was his idea:
Seven games into the 2021 season, Nick Sirianni — the Eagles head coach who’d brought Gannon with him from Indianapolis — stormed into a meeting, venting about how he wasn’t sure he could call the offense and manage the game how he needed to. At that point, the Eagles were 2-5.
“So give the play-calling to Shane,” Gannon suggested, referring to offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.
“Well, they’re gonna look at me like I’m a failure,” Gannon remembers Sirianni saying.
“Who gives a f—?” Gannon replied. “We’re gonna get fired if we’re 3-14.”
In the past, Sirianni has been vague about saying exactly when he handed over play-calling duties to Steichen. But Gannon say is it was after the loss in Las Vegas that dropped the Eagles to 2-5.
Here’s a look at the Eagles’ offense through seven weeks and after that date:
Weeks 1-7: 2-5 record, 22.7 points per game, 347.7 yards per game, 231 passing yards per game, 116.7 rushing yards per game
Week 8-18: 7-3 record, 28.5 points per game, 368.5 yards per game, 178.7 passing yards per game, 189.8 rushing yards per game
The Eagles resurrected their season behind a strong run game, anchored by a powerful offensive line and stormed back to make the playoffs. It’s one of the most important moments in Sirianni’s time as the Eagles’ head coach.
The next season, Sirianni kept Steichen as his play-caller and it helped Steichen get a head coaching gig of his own. He’s now the head coach in Indianapolis. And this change was so important to Sirianni’s success that he’s giving those game-day play-calling responsibilities to new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson.
Here’s what Sirianni said after Steichen left when asked if he planned to have the next OC call plays:
“I do. It does help me manage the game better, in my opinion. It helps me interact with the players more on the sideline. And it helps me be able to discuss something that, with somebody upstairs, to get on the defensive headset when the offense is up, vice versa.
“Yes, that will be my intent to — the next offensive coordinator to call the game. I feel like we’ve seen benefits from that. I just feel like my ability to manage the game — I feel like I do a better job managing the game when I don’t have — and some guys do it and they do a great job of it. And I’m highly impressed by that. For me, what works is this. And I’ll continue doing it that way. That’s the plan.”
While Sirianni has at times downplayed the importance of the offensive play-caller because so much of the work is done during the week, it’s still obviously an important job. And there’s a reason Sirianni was feeling overwhelmed when he was tasked with running the entire operation and calling plays on offense.
The whole Gannon story is worth a read. He breaks down a bit more of what went wrong in the Super Bowl, a comment about Philly reporters he regrets and more.