Cardinals HC Gannon wanting to get began with ‘elite’ Murray


TEMPE, Ariz. — Part of why Jonathan Gannon was hired as the Arizona Cardinals‘ new coach was because of his opinion of Kyler Murray.

During Gannon’s introductory news conference on Thursday, he said one of his first moves will be to start looking at offensive coaches who he feels are the right fit to coach Murray. After a whirlwind four days, that process will start in the next 48 hours, Gannon said.

“I have a very specific vision of how I want to play on offense and the person that comes in here to run the offense is going to understand that everything that we do will be structured around the quarterback position to maximize his skill set,” Gannon said. “And we have an elite one.”

During the almost 40-minute news conference, Gannon laid out his approach for the Cardinals.

“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,” he said. “And all three phases go into that and we will maximize the talents of the players that we have, and that’s how we’re going to win games.

“And don’t get it twisted: We’re going to win games.”

Gannon made it clear, however, that he understood that he would need Murray to do that, whenever Murray recovers from ACL surgery.

Murray was one of 10 players in attendance for Gannon’s news conference, joining fellow quarterback Colt McCoy, running backs James Conner and Darrel Williams, wide receivers Rondale Moore and Antoine Wesley, tight end Zach Ertz, and offensive linemen D.J. Humphries, Will Hernandez and Josh Jones.

Gannon said the Cardinals will have a plan ready depending on how Murray’s recovery goes and whether or not he’ll miss time in the regular season. During his initial conversations with Murray, Gannon has been impressed with his mindset.

“You can tell that he is super competitive, which you have to be at that spot and, very self-aware, which I thought was really cool,” Gannon said. “The maturity that he shows when we talked, he ultimately, just like me, wants to get started and wants to do great things and win football games. And I think that he knows whatever he needs to do that for the team, that’s what he’ll do.

“So I was just really excited about him.”

During Gannon’s interview with the Cardinals, which he didn’t find out about until Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told him about it after Super Bowl LVII, he impressed Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill with his opinion of Murray.

“It’s the view that he had of our elite quarterback and getting him back to being the playmaker that he is and making sure we build around him and put our players in positions, especially Kyler as our quarterback, to really get after it, and I was excited about what his plan is and how he outlined it.”

Gannon said he called around on the Cardinals’ opening before his interview on Monday morning and talked with people he trusted about their opinion of the job. Gannon said all the feedback he received was positive but, ultimately, he was going to trust his gut once he got into the actual interview.

Gannon said he anticipates collaborating with new general manager Monti Ossenfort “100 percent on everything we do,” from building the roster and the staff to the team’s psychology department to the player-development department.

“We’re going to do that together,” Gannon said. “I believe that the more brains and knowledge that we have to make decisions, the better.”

When it comes to Gannon building his staff, the timing of his hiring has been an issue, he said. He spent the entire flight back to Philadelphia working on his staff and also plans on meeting with Vance Joseph, who’s currently under contract as the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator, on Thursday.

“I’m looking forward to sitting down with Vance,” Gannon said. “I’ve know Vance for a long time as a fan because he’s done it at a high level. So looking forward to talking to him about his vision for the defense and if it blends with mine and well, we’ll go from there.”

When Gannon, whose former team, the Eagles, spent last week practicing at the Cardinals’ facility, returned to Arizona as the Cardinals’ head coach, he had a recent memory of Murray to look back on.

Philadelphia beat Arizona in Week 5 but Murray threw for 250 yards, a touchdown and an interception while running for 42 yards on four carries.

“It was a unique game plan to put together because of his skill set,” Gannon said. “And I used the term, he’s a problem to defend because what he can do, he’s a legit problem for defenses and he has a very unique skill set and that’s what I’m looking forward to, working with him and showing him, ‘Hey, this is how defenses are going to try to stop you. Here’s what you need to be ready for and these are the things.’

“That we’re going to do with him that’s going to help him move all the way up and down the field, score a bunch of points and be explosive and protect the football.”

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