The Arizona Cardinals hold the unfortunate title of being the oldest NFL franchise (founded in Chicago in 1920 as one of the first members of the league) to never have managed to win a Super Bowl title. 

While they’re widely expected to be one of the worst teams in football this season, the Cardinals and their fans hope that’s going to change in the near future with the breath of fresh air that new head coach Jonathan Gannon has brought to the floundering franchise.

You Don’t Know How Bad You Have It Until It’s Gone


When Arizona hired former head coach Kliff Kingsbury ahead of the 2019 season, many NFL fans and pundits raised their collective eyebrows in unison: a man who’d managed just two winning seasons in six years as a head coach at the college level, expected to turn the franchise around?

Kingsbury received his fair share of criticism over the next four seasons ahead of his eventual ouster this year, but reports of just how bad the environment he cultured were didn’t start filtering out to the public until this offseason (beyond the occasional perturbed look from a player talking with Kingsbury caught on cameras during games), when veteran Cardinals’ players compared the easygoing, outgoing regime to the disciplined era that Gannon is working hard to bring to life.

Veterans Chip In


In describing the coaching change, franchise quarterback Kyler Murray ripped into Kingsbury and former GM Steve Keim in a YouTube video the Cardinals shared this offseason: while he kept his answers political, they left no doubt who he was referring to.

“I feel like they’ve [Gannon and new general manager Monti Ossenfort] done a great job ever since they came in. Holding people accountable, the leadership, they’re really trying to build something from the ground up,” Murray said. “The whole (last) year was (expletive). It happened for a reason. The things we were doing weren’t sustainable for success. It was necessary and in turn good will come out of what happened.”

After Kingsbury operated a team that suffered from a lack of accountability, Gannon is adding that in spades with a regimented leadership style. In the Kingsbury days, players could show up late to meetings without any repercussions. 

Per the New York Post, linebacker Zaven Collins said Gannon changed all that. 

“You can’t be 30 seconds late to a meeting. You can’t be five minutes late to a meeting,” Collins said. “So, it’s the culture and everyone’s held accountable. They have to be because if they’re held accountable in the locker room, they’re going to be held accountable on the field.”

Just as Murray and the Cardinals seem like they’ll enjoy the upcoming season (at least, more than they did under the flailing Kingsbury regime), you can too with the latest Arizona sportsbook promos.

A Breath of Fresh Air


Bringing in an air of toughness and accountability to a team that previously had nothing of the sort poses a significant challenge. After years of being able to get away with walking all over Kingsbury, veterans of the team could’ve easily attempted to do the same with Gannon.

Instead, he managed to step in and shift the culture from day 1. 

In that same video, Murray discussed how Gannon, a 40-year-old first-time head coach, won the respect of the locker room.

“It’s pretty different for me, but it’s been seamless. Me and JG [Jonathan Gannon] hit it off, he sees things the way I see things,” Murray said. “He can relate to the guys, and he genuinely feels like he believes in the guys and trying to get them better, me better. I feel like you’ll run through a wall for that type of guy, and that’s the type of energy that he brings.”

Murray, like Kingsbury, often caught flack during his first four seasons in the NFL because of a perceived immature attitude, never holding himself or his teammates accountable despite his prescribed role as a leader that being a franchise quarterback entail. 

If Gannon is able to help Murray take the next step as a leader after four inconsistent seasons to start his career, the Cardinals could be much closer than they seem to be to reaching their championship potential. 

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