GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Jonathan Gannon is learning on the job this season, just like any first-year head coach in the NFL.
One thing the Arizona Cardinals coach already knows is the importance of beating the New York Giants.
Gannon came to the Cardinals after two seasons as the defensive coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles and had a 4-1 record against their division rival, including a win in last season's playoffs.
The Giants (0-1) and Cardinals (0-1) are both looking for their first win of the season when the teams meet on Sunday in Arizona.
"Just having played them a couple of times being in that division, it’s going to be a good fight.” Gannon said.
The Giants didn't put up much of a fight in their opener, losing 40-0 to the Dallas Cowboys. The Cardinals also lost, though their performance was much more encouraging in a 20-16 setback against the Commanders.
It was a bizarre opener for the Giants, who fell behind 26-0 by halftime after having a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown and having an interception returned for another score. New York quarterback Daniel Jones — who signed a $160 million, four-year contract during the offseason — completed just 15 of 28 passes for 104 yards and two interceptions.
Gannon does not expect a repeat performance.
“I think Week 1 is different for everybody,” Gannon said. "You’ve got new players, new schemes, new teams, did you play your guys in preseason and injuries — all those things go into it. Within the first couple of games, you want to find your rhythm, see what you do well and evaluate that but in the NFL there’s no surprises.
“Some games are tight and certain ones get out of whack.”
Gannon's familiarity with the Giants could certainly help in preparation for his second game. Then again, New York Giants coach Brian Daboll is also very familiar with Gannon and his defensive schemes.
“Yeah, there’s some similarities,” Daboll said. “Different players, but I think they got after it pretty good (against Washington). They had a defensive touchdown, another interception, another fumble recovery. They turned the ball over, they’re fast.”
DOBBS, TAKE TWO
Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs will start for a second straight game after being acquired in a trade just two weeks before the season opener.
Dobbs played OK in his Arizona debut, completing 21 of 30 passes for 132 yards. He also lost two fumbles, which was one of the main reasons the Commanders rallied for a 20-16 win.
“It's just focus, right?” Dobbs said. “It's focus, discipline, just the little things. It starts with me at quarterback, but also sharing that with the guys. You never know which play it might be. You never know what down it might be. ... You have to stay locked in and focused.”
No matter how well Dobbs plays, his days as the starter are likely numbered. He's the fill-in for franchise quarterback Kyler Murray, who is still recovering from a torn ACL in his right knee and will miss at least the next three games.
The Giants opened the 2022 season with a 21-20 win over Tennessee on the road. The winning margin came when Daboll went for a late 2-point conversion in his NFL head coaching debut.
The following week Daboll took receiver Kenny Golladay and inside linebacker Austin Calitro out of the starting lineup.
Watch what happens coming off a 40-0 loss. The offensive line was bad. Jones was sacked seven times and the offense gained 171 yards.
Expect changes, with the least being some players rotating series. Left tackle Andrew Thomas has a hamstring injury. Defensively, edge rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari struggled.
Arizona's defense — and particularly the pass rush — was a pleasant surprise in last week's loss. The Cardinals had six sacks by five different players and forced three turnovers.
Linebacker Dennis Gardeck is the perfect leader for the no-name bunch. He's been with the Cardinals for six seasons, slowly climbing the ranks from undrafted free agent to a vital piece for the defense.
He had two sacks against the Commanders, including a strip-sack that was returned for a touchdown.
One player who might see more time for the Giants is Isaiah Simmons, who was acquired from Arizona before the final cuts. He had a motor against Dallas and facing his old team might rev him up more.
Simmons was the No. 8 overall pick in 2020 out of Clemson, but never totally found a consistent role with the Cardinals. Still, the athletic linebacker had several good moments in the desert and made more than 200 total tackles over the past two seasons.
AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan in East Rutherford, New Jersey, contributed.
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David Brandt, The Associated Press