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Accountability High On To-Do List For Jonathan Gannon

Coach knows that it isn't just about corrections but also praise

Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon (left) talks with tackle D.J. Humphries on Thursday.
Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon (left) talks with tackle D.J. Humphries on Thursday.

Budda Baker famously tried to do it, in a moment caught by Hard Knocks cameras last season after a loss against, coincidentally enough, the Eagles and the Cardinals' future head coach.

The Pro Bowl safety emotionally ranted about being tired of losing, about being accountable to each other in what turned out to be a message that never resonated. Not enough.

Finding that accountability is one of the reasons Kliff Kingsbury is no longer around and Jonathan Gannon – the Eagles defensive coordinator that day – is now in charge. It was no surprise the subject came up on Gannon's first official day on the job.

"Player accountability is simply this: You have to define what winning behavior is and hold people to that standard," Gannon said. "Accountability is not just a negative. It's a positive too. When people do the right thing, that is winning behavior … as hard as we are going to be on our guys, we're going to love 'em up even more. That's how you win games."

"The ultimate accountability is not wanting to let your teammate down when you are going about your business."

Sliding to a 4-13 record brings with it multiple reasons for struggles. It is much too simple of an argument to say had there been more accountability, the record would have been significantly different.

But in a season that provided plenty of reasons to fracture, more accountability would've helped.

"There were a lot of distractions, a lot of things taking away from the end goal," tight end Zach Ertz said. "If you can eliminate distractions, get out of the media per se for a couple months and focus on being the best versions of ourselves, we'll be in a better spot going into this year. It's not the fault of anyone in particular. Everyone shares blame in that, the lack of success we had as a team this year. But at the end of the day, it's in the past."

The topic has been at the forefront of the offseason so far. GM Monti Ossenfort talked about team-first and no need for egos, and owner Michael Bidwill saw that too as dovetailing into accountability.

"It's clear that that's going to be an emphasis here and that's what (Ossenfort) described as setting ego aside," Bidwill said last month. "It's all about accountability to the team. I think it's absolutely related. It's absolutely something our players are interested in."

Gannon spoke about the character he wants all his players to have. Within that will come a responsibility for the roster not only to themselves but the rest of the guys in the locker room.

Every team needs it, and every coach wants it. But executing it is all that matters.

"The players sitting here right now are going to take it over because the ultimate accountability comes from not wanting to let your teammate down and how you're going about your business," Gannon said at his press conference, a number of key players sitting in the front row as he spoke. "There are a lot of different ways to get that done and I look forward to doing that with our guys. That'll be one of the major things that we hold our hat on."