Eagles should look at these 7 potential replacements for Jonathan Gannon

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 27: Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni during the National Football League preseason game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 27, 2021 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

The poaching of the Eagles’ coaching staff continues as the team now needs a new defensive coordinator. Have you ever seen someone at work do such a poor job and then get promoted for it? Well that person now has something in common with Jonathan Gannon.

After a second half of forgetting he was in the Super Bowl, Gannon seemingly did not get on a plane back to Philadelphia and is now the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

With Gannon out, who’s in? Let’s take a look at some of the Eagles options:


Dennard Wilson

Wilson just completed his second season with the Eagles and helped coach three DBs to excellent seasons: Darius Slay (Pro Bowl, Pro Football Writers All Pro), James Bradberry (2nd team AP All Pro), and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (tied for league leading INT – 6). Prior to joining the Philadelphia Eagles, Wilson was with the New York Jets and was responsible for coaching Jamal Adams to his only Pro Bowl and All Pro years.

Wilson’s success with the secondary should be enough for strong consideration to be defensive coordinator. When asked in July if he’s ready to be a defensive coordinator, Wilson said:

“I’ve been groomed by Gregg Williams, I’ve been groomed by Todd Bowles, who are very good in this league, and they’re very thorough. I’ve been tutored by them. I know how to run a ship. I know the responsibilities. So if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll be ready for it.

Nick Rallis

Said to be the “Sean McVay” of defensive assistants, Rallis has been linked to both the Denver and Arizona defensive coordinator jobs.

Rallis has had a meteoric rise from defensive quality control coach in Minnesota from 2018-2020 to his current LB coach position to now being a candidate for defensive coordinator. I personally think he follows Gannon to Arizona, so Sirianni and Roseman will have to move quickly if the Eagles want to keep Rallis on staff.


John Pagano

Pagano has familiarity with Sirianni as Pagano was the defensive coordinator in SD when Sirianni was there. Pagano most recently was the Broncos outside linebackers coach for Denver (2020-2021) and coached for former unofficial/official Eagles consultant Vic Fangio. Fango is set to become the Miami defensive coordinator, so signs point to Pagano joining his staff there but it’s worth mentioning a name that the Eagles head coach knows.

Jim Leonhard

The hot name for a few offseasons now, Leonhard has stood away from the NFL light (outside of being a safety) but it may be time for him to make the jump.

Here’s his defensive philosophy:

While he utilizes a base 3-4 scheme, his defense deploys various fronts, with a 2-4-5 design regularly used against pass-heavy teams. Leonhard is known for using an array of stunts and blitz packages to aggressively attack offenses while leaving his defensive backs in man-to-man coverage.

He’s smart, he’s innovative, and the defense would be exciting under him.

Vance Joseph

Joseph is currently the Cardinals defensive coordinator but that’s set to change soon. Joseph coached Haason Reddick in Arizona and is widely regarded as one of the top defensive minds in the league.

Marquand Manuel

A former secondary coach with the Eagles, Manuel is currently doing the same for the Jets. Have you seen how great the JETS secondary was last year? While he was the defensive coordinator for the 28-3 Atlanta Falcons, Manuel has a strong history of success and could pair with Dennard Wilson (if he doesn’t go somewhere else) to coach a strong enough pass defense to withstand above average quarterbacks.

Sean Desai

Desai is currently the associate head coach-defense for the Seattle Seahawks. He is also familiar with the Philly area as he was a temple grad and a former Temple assistant. Desai is a disciple of Vic Fangio and has been behind two straight strong pass defense seasons for two different teams (Chicago & Seattle). Robert Quinn’s 18 sack 2021 came with Desai as his defensive coordinator. Said to be one of the more creative minds in the game, Desai’s defenses would be a breath of fresh air in the disguises department.

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire