New Eagles safety Anthony Harris arrived in Philadelphia on Tuesday and the team captured the moment he walked into the NovaCare Complex for the first time.
Just a couple steps through the door and he was greeted by new defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and an emphatic dap that could probably be heard from the Linc.
Harris, 29, on a virtual call with local reporters said one of the main things that attracted him to Philadelphia was the chance to play under Gannon again. The two were together for several years with the Vikings when Harris was a relatively unknown undrafted free agent and Gannon was an assistant position coach. The two have a history together.
So who better than Harris to tell us what Gannon’s all about.
“He’s going to bring some energy,” Harris said. “He’s going to be somebody who has that balance of being dialed in, getting to the point, letting you know what his expectations are. But he’s also going to be that guy right there with you, jumping around when you make a play. I imagine he’ll be right there next to guys, maybe even demonstrating some of the drills. He’s just that guy who loves football, who loves being around the players and ultimately just wants to win.”
Gannon, 37, hasn’t spoken publicly since taking the Eagles’ defensive coordinator job — you can read more about his incredible story here — but at least we have one of his former players in town to tell us about Gannon and what his defense might look like.
A big clue is the presence of Harris alone. The signing might be a hint that Gannon will be constructing a defensive scheme with similarities to the defense that Mike Zimmer has been running in Minnesota since 2014.
Although, Harris wasn’t ready to say the Eagles’ defense will be a carbon copy of what they run in Minnesota. In fact, he’s excited to see the differences.
“It’s an opportunity for [Gannon] to step into the defensive coordinator role and take it in whatever direction he wants to go,” Harris said. “For me, it’s going to be new in terms of new facility, new uniforms, new team, new coaches and that’s something I’m excited for. And in terms of what the defense may look like, that’s something you may have to ask him. Regardless of what it is, I’m excited.”
Gannon was a hot name as a defensive coordinator candidate this offseason and there’s a chance that if things go well for him in Philly, he’ll be a head coach soon. Even when he was in Minnesota, it was clear that Gannon was destined for big things in the NFL.
He left the Vikings in 2018 to take a job on Frank Reich’s staff in Indianapolis, where he worked with Eagles new head coach Nick Sirianni. When the Eagles hired Sirianni this offseason, it was understood that Gannon would be his defensive coordinator. The staff Sirianni planned to assemble — a big part of that was Gannon — was one of the many things the Eagles’ brass liked about him.
While Harris wasn’t ready to explain all the X’s and O’s of the defense Gannon might implement, he does know about the basics.
“I expect his defense to be fundamentally sound, just knowing him,” Harris said. “He’s a person who really likes and loves the game. He communicates well with the players, asks how you see things out there on the field. So that’s one piece. And then just effort. He’s really big on effort, controlling what you can control and just flying around playing football and just loving it.”
As for Harris’s role in Gannon’s defense, he expects to play an “interchangeable” role much like he did with the Vikings. In 2020, the majority of Harris’s snaps came as a free safety, but he also played as a box safety, slot corner and even took a few snaps on the line and at wide corner, according to ProFootballFocus.
“Successful defenses, they require that a lot,” Harris said. “I’m just here to be utilized in any way they see fit and that helps the team be successful.”
In other words: He’s trusting Gannon. After all, Gannon is a big reason why he’s here.
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