For the second year in a row, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon has interviewed for the Texans head coaching job. In 2022, Drew Dougherty of Texas TV interviewed Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The duo talked again about Gannon’s leadership style and more.
DD: Dave, we talked at length about Gannon a year ago after he interviewed for the job. How is he different, if any, after defending them for a year?
Zangaro: Another year of experience. This is very important. I think he was in a great position to be the head coach last year. But it’s important to be in charge of the whole department for another year, and he has more experience. He also went through the process of running for election last year. He knows what he wants to do. He has an idea of, ‘OK, this is what I want my staff to look like’ and that’s a big part of being a head coach.
I don’t think it’s talked about enough because a head coach alone doesn’t make a good coaching staff. You have to know how you’re going to fill it out. He’s been thinking about it for over a year. What his staff will look like, what his duties will look like.
He’s a really good leader, and his plan has gotten a lot of criticism in Philly. But the results speak for themselves. They’re a top-notch defense, but they’re not as aggressive at times as Eagles fans would like them to be. Eagles fans expect a blitz every game, and he doesn’t. That’s a lot of area to cover. Put it in front of you, but it removes explosive play and is underwhelming. They are a really nice unit.
DD: What do you think Texas fans should know about Gannon that they might not know otherwise?
Zangaro: high energy. Always high energy. If he’s having a bad day, he hides it well enough that it can be contagious. If the whole group is looking at the leader and that person falters a bit, there’s trouble. In this regard, I noticed Gannon’s incredible consistency. Always be optimistic.
If something was wrong, he’d say, ‘Okay, let’s find out. Let’s figure it out. I mentioned this to you last year. In his tenure with (defensive liner) Fletcher Cox, there was a moment that I think was a really big moment. They don’t see eye to eye, and that’s probably why they’ve failed defensively, especially him. Cox is one of the greatest players in Philadelphia history. He made his displeasure public, and Gannon never publicly took the bait. He went behind the scenes and said, ‘Okay, let’s figure it out. Let’s figure out how we can come to an understanding after that. There is nothing wrong with them. His ability to calm it down shows his leadership qualities. But it also shows that he listens to his players, which is important.
I’ve talked to a lot of defensive players and they’ve told me he really listens. “He might not do what we think is best or what we want to do, but we’ll take that into account.” If (defensive lineman) Hasson Redick walks into his office and says, ‘Hey, I think I should Used as such’, Gannon probably wouldn’t do it, but he’d listen, he’d think about it, he’d try to incorporate it if he thought it made sense. It gives these guys a sense of ownership over the defense, which is hard to buy. That sense of identification helps a lot when a person feels like they are listening to me and thinking about what I want to do. It’s one of the most impressive parts of his time here.
DD: You mentioned his fiery side, but would you describe his leadership style that way?
Zangaro: it toggles a bit. It’s fun because he’s loud and he’s right in front of you, but he can also relax. I think we see more on game day. Some coaches know when to hit that button and when to kick back a little during the practice week. That’s when it’s time to speak up. That’s the time to get everyone excited because they’re going to have it on their game day. I think that’s when he sits down and calls the defense.
He listens to his players and coaches, and they try to solve problems on the fly. So I think it’s a little bit of both. But there’s no question he can command a room. I’ve heard from many different sources that he interviews well. Not just for the Texan’s job, but for the three jobs he prepared last year. This is not surprising at all.