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January 09, 2023

NFL rumors: Could Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon replace Lovie Smith with Texans?

Houston fired Lovie Smith after a single season at head coach, perhaps to get ready to circle back around to the Eagles' defensive coordinator

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Jonathan_Gannon_Eagles_Giants_091922_KateFrese165.jpg Kate Frese/For PhillyVoice

It would actually make more sense if Jonathan Gannon were talking to the Cardinals while the Eagles were on defense during the Super Bowl.

UPDATE [4:25 p.m. ET] – The Texans are already trying to get the wheels turning, it seems.

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter on Monday afternoon, Houston has requested permission from the Eagles to interview Gannon. 

But he's not the only one in Philly that the Texans want to talk to. Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, they've also requested permission to interview offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.


The Texans didn't even wait for Black Monday to clear a potential path for Jonathan Gannon. 

Houston fired Lovie Smith as its head coach late Sunday night, just hours after the team's final game and a coinciding report that the Eagles defensive coordinator would be a "top candidate" for the position this offseason

Per Aaron Wilson of KPRC down in Houston, who tracked the leadup and aftermath of Smith's firing throughout the day, there is mutual interest between both parties: 

Several league sources have labeled Gannon as a top candidate for the Texans’ potential opening after he made a strong impression during two interviews last season before the Texans promoted Smith from defensive coordinator after considering former NFL quarterback Josh McCown for the job.

Gannon could possibly assemble an experienced staff with his connections to former Colts coach Frank Reich and Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and Eagles quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson.

Gannon interviewed with the Texans, Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings during the last hiring cycle.

Gannon “knocked it out of the park” and “crushed” his meetings with NFL teams, impressing them with his knowledge, creativity, detailed plans about strategy and staff and his passion for the game, according to league sources.

One member of an NFL search committee said of Gannon: “He knows the answer before you even ask him the question.” [KPRC]

As the report mentioned, Gannon impressed during his interviews last year, and while nothing panned out, the Texans look ready to circle back around. 

Gannon, 40, has been a name on the rise in the coaching market for a while and now he has the benefit of a statistically high-end defense to his name. 

Under his watch this season, the Eagles' defense has allowed the fewest passing yards per game (179.8), the second-fewest total yards per game (301.5), and tied with Washington for seventh in average points allowed (20.2). The defense also produced 27 takeaways (17 interceptions and 10 fumbles) and contained a pass rush that saw four players record at least 11 sacks. 

Watching them in action though has yielded some consistent criticisms throughout his Eagles tenure, especially in 2022. A rather passive approach has prevented a lot of big plays from happening, but often at the cost of the Eagles getting torn up underneath and sometimes completely unable to get off the field if the opposing offense shows up with a patient enough gameplan. 

Gannon has also taken flack in the past for failing to adapt to his personnel in the face of injuries or falling short in playing to their strengths. 

The Texans job would represent a pretty blank slate, however. 

They have a couple of promising young players already in running back Dameon Pierce and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., along with 11 picks in the draft this April, including the No. 2 overall pick after Smith managed a win over the Colts on Sunday to put Houston a game behind the Bears in draft order at 3-13-1.

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