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Four Candidates to be DC if Jonathan Gannon Becomes a Head Coach

Here are two veterans who could be in the mix along with a pair of in-house candidates
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His boss was 39, had one interview, and landed a head coaching gig.

Jonathan Gannon is in a position to follow in the same footsteps as Nick Sirianni, who came from out of nowhere last year and wowed the Eagles’ brain trust enough to land in the big seat.

It would certainly be a surprise if Gannon got an offer from one of the three teams expected to interview him for their head coaching vacancies – Denver, Houston, and Minnesota.

This feels like a process that, for Gannon, would be for interview experience purposes to perhaps help with future openings, but it’s hard to be certain his moment isn’t right now.

His defense was up and down throughout his one year as defensive coordinator, but a shortage of playmakers, specifically, and personnel, in general, cannot be ignored. Maybe someone sitting in a GM chair views Gannon’s situation through that prism and decides to take a chance on him.

There would likely be an uproar if he were picked ahead of some who seem to be more qualified, including minority assistants such as Eric Bieniemy, Byron Leftwich, Todd Bowles, Raheem Morris, and Brian Flores.

What if it happens though?

Where would the Eagles turn to take over as Sirianni’s DC?

Here’s a short list:

Vic Fangio. He could easily be at the top.

Fangio, who is 63, grew up in Dunmore, located outside of Scranton in the northeast part of Pennsylvania, and played football at East Stroudsburg University.

Geography aside, he was just fired after a three-year run as the head coach of the Denver Broncos, compiling a 19-30 record.

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His defenses are known for taking the ball away, though the Broncos had 12 interceptions this past season, which is the same number of interceptions as the Eagles, but his 2011 49ers defense forced 35 turnovers to lead the NLF and in 2018 his Chicago Bears unit had 36 takeaways with 27 being interceptions.

He would probably be a longshot to take over for Gannon, given the youthful makeup of Sirianni’s staff. Even if the Eagles look that way, who knows if Fangio would be ready to return in such a role after being a head coach.

Maybe the promise of spending the three first-round picks the Eagles have on defense would sway him - or at least three of the first four picks on his side of the ball, anyway - if there is an interest.

Mike Zimmer. An even longer shot that this would happen. The 65-year-old’s ego would be too big to return to a DC role after spending eight seasons as the head coach in Minnesota.

Dennard Wilson. The defensive backs coach could be one of two in-house promotions the team turns to in the event Gannon departs.

He certainly fits the mold, with his 40th birthday coming up in March, and his experience is certainly noteworthy after getting his start as a pro scout for the Chicago Bears in 2006 and climbing the ranks since then. Before joining Sirianni’s staff, he was the passing game coordinator for the New York Jets and helped develop Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, who, in 2020 led the team’s secondary in tackles (86), passes defended (11), tackles for loss (4), and sacks (2).

Cornerback Darius Slay also said earlier this year that he believed Wilson would make a good DC and deserved a shot at getting one of those jobs.

He could be the favorite if Gannon leaves.

Nick Rallis. This would seem like a long shot, but maybe not. Granted, he is just 28, but should that matter? Look at the job he did this past season, his first coaching linebackers for the Eagles. Alex Singleton and T.J. Edwards finished 1-2 on the team in tackles with Singleton getting 130 and Edwards finishing with 124.

Edwards’ development as the middle linebacker was a revelation, so much so the Eagles extended his contract for next season.

It would be a big jump for Rallis, but not out of the question.

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Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.