In perhaps the least surprising news ever, Jonathan Gannon has been warmly received during the interview process with three teams that have head-coaching vacancies.
Gannon, 39, was interviewed by the Houston Texans on Tuesday this week, followed by the Denver Broncos on Wednesday and the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday, and has now been labeled as a front-runner by at least one national insider for the job in South Texas.
ESPN's Dan Graziano reported that the Eagles' current defensive coordinator “made a very strong impression” on the Texans and “is considered by some in that building to be the current front-runner for the job."
Gannon, of course, has a history with the two others teams he's discussed a head-coaching position from his time as the Vikings' assistant defensive backs coach from 2014-17, a period when current Broncos GM George Paton was the assistant GM for Minnesota.
Of the three positions, the Vikings are moving the slowest because they are also searching for a new GM after firing Rick Spielman and want that hire in place before they decide on a new coach.
Gannon's somewhat hot status on the NFL job market has taken many Philadelphia fans by surprise who lamented his focus on limiting explosive offensive plays at the expense of the aggression much of the fan base has been weaned on.
Many around the league, however, see that Gannon was able to piece together a top-10 unit with a perceived lack of talent on the back end and consider that a feather in his cap.
The strength of Gannon as a candidate and coach, however, remains his ability to connect with people which is what made him a rising star around the league in the first place.
"If you're hiring a scheme you're doing it wrong," has become conventional wisdom with many decision-makers around the NFL with the understanding that a vision and managing people with the leadership to get them there is the far bigger part of becoming a successful head coach when compared to the X's and O's.
“Judging a coordinator based on the way the team performed on his side of the ball is easy, but the characteristics that make a strong head coach don’t always align with those that define a coach’s specific defensive or offensive schemes," Graziano noted. "The 39-year-old Gannon is impressing people in ways that make teams look at him as a strong overall leader.”
The Texans, who moved on from David Culley after one 4-13 season, have been an organization in disarray due to the organization's issues with star quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is also in the midst of 22 civil accusations for sexual misconduct.
Watson, one of the NFL's most talented young quarterbacks, sat out last season and is not expected to play with Houston again.
Along with Gannon, the Texans have interviewed former Miami coach Brian Flores, Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, former NFL receiver Hines Ward, who is currently a special assistant to Florida Atlantic coach Willie Taggart, as well as long-time backup quarterback Josh McCown.
McCown, who was with the Eagles in parts of the 2019 and 2020 seasons, interviewed with Houston for the second consecutive year on Thursday and is also considered to be a strong candidate for the Texans with natural leadership skills. He would be making an unprecedented leap from a 19-year playing career to an NFL head coach with no prior pro or college coaching experience.
Outside the box thinkers look at McCown's nearly-two decade stint in the NFL and point out that his experience learning so many different offenses in so many different organizations trumps the slow climb from quality control to position coach to a coordinator that has become the standard around the NFL.
To those who know McCown, he's been regarded as a future NFL head coach for years and the Eagles at least broached the subject of him immediately joining their coaching staff after the 2019 campaign days after he was forced into action for an injured Carson Wentz in a postseason loss to Seattle.
Culley was a long-time Eagles' assistant under Andy Reid from 1999 through 2012.
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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.