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Five Takeaways From Jonathan Gannon At The NFL Spring Meeting

Cardinals coach talks Kyler in offseason, Kyzir White health, Dortch development

Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon speaks with the media on Tuesday at the NFL's annual spring meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Cardinals coach Jonathan Gannon speaks with the media on Tuesday at the NFL's annual spring meeting in Orlando, Fla.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The NFC coaches had their media roundtable/breakfast on Tuesday morning, and Jonathan Gannon spoke for about 30 minutes. The biggest news was his acknowledgment that the Cardinals would again take part in a joint practice in the preseason.

But there were a few other things to highlight as the league finishes up its business, changing rules like the hip-drop tackle and the kickoff, as teams head toward the final few weeks before the draft.


Kyler Murray as QB1 has been settled for a long while, although it isn't surprisingly still a popular topic when Gannon is among national/non-Arizona media. The coach again talked about how much he loved Murray as a person, teammate, and competitor.

But now into 2024, it's the offseason with Murray – one that Gannon and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing did not get last year when Murray was rehabbing – that sparks Gannon's excitement. Murray has been at the facility often this offseason, continuing the long-term work on his knee. But when the football starts, that's a chance at another jump.

"Being in the spring and going through spring, it's really going to help his development within our system," Gannon said. "I mean, we changed his stance (to take a snap) and he took to it. He understands the why behind it, and he likes it now. He's going to bank all those reps in the spring. That's why I say his best football is ahead of them, which is, is interesting to say, because he's playing at such a high level. But I really think that he's going to keep doing that."


Linebacker Kyzir White and defensive lineman L.J. Collier are expected to be back when offseason work resumes "full tilt" after both suffered torn biceps, although Gannon said the Cardinals will be smart with both veterans on the field. (Defensive lineman Dante Stills is also healthy after a late-season injury.)

But bigger picture, Gannon knows getting White back on the field is crucial. The Cardinals were missing something after he was sidelined.

"The versatility that he brings, you know, obviously the motor and the violence, the coverage ability to run, obviously a complete player, super smart," Gannon said. "I'm not gonna lie, that hurt us. As a starter that was playing real well, that was done for the year, but other guys stepped in and maximize their opportunities. I really like what some other guys did in there, and we'll have more competition in that room this year. Kyzir is looking forward to going through spring. I know that."


In his first year as an outside linebacker, Zaven Collins didn't put up eye-popping statistics – an interception, 3.5 sacks, 6 tackles for loss playing 58 percent of the snaps in Nick Rallis' OLB rotation -- but remains someone whom Gannon praises in his new role. Collins is headed into the final year of his rookie deal, although the Cardinals do have until May to exercise his fifth-year option for 2025 if they so choose.

"He's got all the tools he's shown on tape, he can do everything that we need to do to be a premium player for us," Gannon said. "(He needs) the consistency of doing that every single day. He's so bright and so smart. But at that position, there's times where we talk to him about 'Hey, man, like, you just gotta cut it loose. You can't overthink this.'"


The Cardinals have overhauled their defensive line this offseason, with the free-agent signings of Bilal Nichols and Justin Jones. The Cards remained committed to a rotation up front – and drafting one or two from the line is still very much a possibility – but Gannon loves both the versatility and violence both players have shown in their careers.

"They can both rush, they can both play the run in multiple modes of run defense," Gannon said. "They are both pretty durable, which you never know how that's going to go but they have proven they can play a lot of snaps. The makeup of the players – we did a lot of homework on those guys, to bring them in. Glowing reviews about those guys. And when you watch the tape, you have a vision for those guys."


With the trade of Rondale Moore – and with the caveat that the draft will likely bring in at least one wide receiver – Gannon said the next step for Greg Dortch is to "keep expanding his role." Dortch had 24 catches (on 41 targets) for 280 yards and two touchdowns last season, numbers that were down from 2021. But Dortch made big plays late in the season when needed.

"What I love about G is, I said, 'Hey, man, like, you got to make sure that you're concentrating on these certain things, and you got to do a better job of these things.' He took that to heart and he worked on him, and he got better at those things," Gannon said.

"He's self-aware. I mean, 'OK, like JG said, I need to work on this. This is what he wants to see, this is what I'm going to work on. This is what he's going to see.' He did that. I appreciate that. The thing I really love about him is that he's got a smile on his face and he loves ball, and he loves to practice. He loves to play, he loves the process, loves to compete. I'll line up with him."


Kyle Brandt of "Good Morning Football" did his annual have-some-fun breakdown of the NFL coaches photo taken every year at the annual meeting and gave Gannon some love for his biceps in the picture. Gannon said he hadn't heard Brandt's breakdown.

"Biceps? We don't even do arms," Gannon quipped. "You should see my hamstrings."