The Ken Whisenhunt era in Arizona has come to a close. After another 5-11 season, it seemed that it was simply time to part ways, to start fresh. Whiz took this franchise to new heights; to places it may or may not reach in the near future without him.
But whoever comes in to replace him will ensure that reaching the same plateau he did is their primary job. With that, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill informed the press and Cardinals fans that he will do his best in finding someone that can bring the team back to the Super Bowl. In his press conference on Monday, he mentioned defensive coordinator Ray Horton as a possible successor to Whisenhunt, as well as former Eagles coach Andy Reid and current Broncos offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy.
Horton is obviously an intriguing name due to what Cards fans already know about him. He is, in many ways, the polar opposite of Coach Whisenhunt. Horton sparks emotion and, although he is a player's coach as well, he goes about it in a different way. That, as we have seen many times, can either help or hurt a coach in getting a job.
Horton has been the coach of one of the league's top defenses for the past couple of seasons, but one of the things the Bidwills will be wondering is whether or not he is ready for this kind of position. He thrives as a coordinator, but does he have what it takes to be a head coach? Is he too much of the same, whereas the Cards should be moving in a completely different direction? Whether he is hired or not will be based on that.
Then you have Andy Reid. Over the past 14 years as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, we have seen him put together quite a few teams that were just an inch away from wining that ever elusive Super Bowl. One of the problems with Whisenhunt was his inability to pick a quarterback, develop him and stick with him. That is not an issue with Reid. He would be reunited with Kevin Kolb, whom he coached in Philadelphia, and hopefully, make good things happen with him.
The biggest con with Reid is whether or not he can take the team all the way. He had some pretty talented teams in Philly, but could never get over the hump. The team may look for a more proven winner in terms of actual rings if they are going to dish out the kind of money Reid will be looking for. He is easily the most expensive coach on the market, which is another negative attached to his name.
Finally, Mike McCoy is a name that Michael Bidwill spat out in his presser. The Broncos' offensive coordinator already has some wooing over him, as he took a team led by Tim Tebow to the playoffs, where they eventually beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now, he is the architect of a powerhouse offense run by future Hall of Fame quarterback, Peyton Manning.
But that's the thing -- McCoy has a Hall of Fame quarterback. That was the knock many had on Whisenhunt, saying that the only way he had success was because of Kurt Warner, another HoFer in his own right. Can McCoy lead a team with no established quarterback back into the playoffs? Does he have the necessary experience to be a head coach?
Now, these last couple of names were not directly mentioned by Mr. Bidwill, so I am simply speculating here. Todd Haley, the current offensive coordinator of the Steelers and former coordinator for the Cards, is going to be a guy they call, whether you like it or not. He has ties to the team, head coaching experience with the Chiefs and friends within the organization. However, he has always been a guy with an abrasive attitude and does not always play well with others. He is not what you would call a player's coach.
His time in Kansas City may impact him negatively. He showed that, much like Norv Turner, he has a brilliant offensive mind, but cannot keep things under control as a head coach. He may be granted a release from Pittsburgh this offseason, as he and Ben Roethlisberger have been seen butting heads this year. That would open the door for him to come to Arizona as a coordinator, as opposed to a head coach. Still, I think he at least gets an interview for the HC position.
The last name that sounds like it will be highly sought after is Bruce Arians, who in Chuck Pagano's absence in Indianapolis due to leukemia, managed to not only lead the team to the playoffs, but unite a city and a team. It is truly special what he has done. But is he willing to leave Indy, a place that he seems to have grown so fond of? He has a franchise quarterback to groom in Andrew Luck, whereas he would basically have to start over in that regards if he came to Arizona.
Over the coming days, the team will conduct interviews with many of the above candidates, if not all of them. Whoever they decide to hire in the end, rest assured, it will be the coach they feel can lead this team back to the Super Bowl.