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Cardinals Know It's Time To Trend Up With Trip To Houston

Game against Texans features two first-year head coaches

Coach Jonathan Gannon congratulates QB Kyler Murray after a scoring drive in last week's win over the Falcons.
Coach Jonathan Gannon congratulates QB Kyler Murray after a scoring drive in last week's win over the Falcons.

Jonathan Gannon has always been a stickler for being on time.

As he sat in the media room this week, Gannon smiled while looking at his unflashy, simple watch that he "might've bought for 38 dollars on sale at Target."

"The best thing I've ever bought for myself," he said.

It emphasized his message of making the most of the opportunities presented in a 24-hour day.

"If you want to strive to be the best at what you do, if you want to strive to be a consistent winning football team, we have to maximize the day," Gannon said. "I always say anyone can rah rah and stay positive for a day, but you have to have sustained positive enthusiasm."

The enthusiasm for Gannon is real right now, even with a 2-8 record. Kyler Murray had an impressive return to the field last week. And now, Sunday against the Texans, he will face another first-year coach in DeMeco Ryans, who has the Texans (5-4) in the playoff hunt.

"It's the Cardinals versus Texans, but when he took over in San Fran is when I took over in Philly, so we're kind of on the same path," Gannon said. "I got a relationship with him. He's a really good dude. I have a very high opinion of him and it's not surprising what he's doing over there."

Both Gannon and Ryans were assigned the task of bringing in the right players, but also changing a culture. Both team have had players come out to say that the difference is noticeable. Gannon said as invigorated as he is on a daily basis, he was walking around the facility "hooting and hollering this morning and made sure that everyone's awake and ready to go to work."

As a first-year coach, there are going to be unfamiliar situations that pop up on Gannon's desk. When those come up, he relies on those that have been a part of the culture shift. He said that communicating "effectively and clearly" allows them to operate well as a fairly new staff.

"You do the best job you can with the circumstances and factors that you have to go into the decisions in what you do," Gannon said.

One of the factors that'll certainly be impacted by the result of this Sunday's game is where the Cardinals and Texans will pick in the 2024 draft. As part of April's draft day trade between the two organizations, the Cardinals acquired the Texans 2024 first-round pick, in exchange for the Cardinals 2023 first-round pick.

The Texans have had success this season, despite being projected as one of the NFL's worst. Quarterback C.J. Stroud is in the MVP conversation. If the NFL draft was today, the Cardinals' Texans draft pick would be No. 20.

It's understandable to look at the Cardinals' record and have an eye towards next season. But the guys in the Cardinals locker room want nothing more than to win this Sunday, and every Sunday after.

"We are putting in the groundwork now," linebacker and captain Kyzir White said. "Obviously the year hasn't gone how we wanted it to, but we still have a lot of games left. Hopefully we can win out and make something shake. Texans are in the hunt too, so it's great to battle a team like that."

The draft is in 159 days, but when Gannon looks at his watch, it doesn't say Apr. 25, 2024. It says under 24 hours until the Cardinals battle it in Houston.

"You can't relax," Gannon said. "You have to have accountability. You have to have a willingness to improve and learn."