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One Year After Jonathan Gannon's Arrival

Cardinals coach has made inroads as he reaches hiring anniversary

Coach Jonathan Gannon smiles after James Conner scored a touchdown in the rain during a win at Pittsburgh this past season.
Coach Jonathan Gannon smiles after James Conner scored a touchdown in the rain during a win at Pittsburgh this past season.

Exactly one year from the day Jonathan Gannon had officially become the newest head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, he sat in the auditorium of the Dignity Health Training Center on Wednesday with his staff as they prepped for a second season.

Gannon's mission is ongoing, a given considering a four-win season. But when he arrived, it was the process – not necessarily the results – that Gannon repeatedly and emphatically hammered home.

Culture is a word often invoked, but executing such change was at the heart of Gannon's plan from the day he walked in the door.

"(Players) enjoyed the standard, the accountability and the competition," Gannon said after the season ended. "I said, 'Give me some critiques on me.' It's funny what you hear, and it just goes to show you you've always got to stay in contact with the players. You never know what they're thinking, but I got some really good feedback. Some other guys were kind of shocked that I asked that. I said, 'When it hits your brain when you're in the movie theater, when you're doing something, just shoot me a text.' That's how you learn.

"When it (doesn't) comes from a place of criticism (but) it comes from a place of care, love and wanting to get better, it's very easy to take. The guys that I'm asking that, I understand that their critique is coming from that type of place where they want to win football games. We all have to improve."

Two weeks from now the NFL – and the Cardinals -- will be in the middle of the NFL Scouting combine, the early stages of going over the prospects in person that will potentially be the team's first-round picks (No. 4 and No. 27). Free Agency will begin about two weeks after that.

Gannon and GM Monti Ossenfort have gone through this, of course. But their decisions last offseason were made through a fog, not having yet seen their players on the field and within the system and structure that Gannon would implement.

There is little doubt that, barring a Super Bowl win, Gannon will again gather his coaching staff next year on the day that marks his arrival anniversary. He'll have another year of experience by then, applying what he can to a team seeking to eventually turn the date into a potential Super Bowl parade.

"I feel like I've learned a lot," Gannon said. "There's a lot more I've got to learn. I've got that detailed out already, but honestly the people in the building helped me a lot. The staff— everybody in place in the building— (Owner) Michael (Bidwill), Monti, they really helped me a lot with a lot of things that we had to navigate this year.

"When you've got good people, you listen to them, get their opinions, and then you make a decision."