The Cardinals’ best success over the years has come from offensive minded head coaches like Don Coryell, Ken Whisenhunt and Bruce Arians.
Why Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim deviated from that script this year—-knowing fully well that they intended to use their 1st round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft in acquiring their quarterback of the future—-is a head scratcher of the highest degree.
As a fan, I have tried my best to warm up to Steve Wilks and Mike McCoy, but regardless of what happens the rest of this season, which is off to woeful 0-4 start, there is no question in my mind that getting the right head coach in place for Josh Rosen for at least the next 4 years is of paramount importance.
The only way to ensure stability and continuity for Rosen and the offense is to hire an offensive minded HC. The Cardinals can try to roll the dice on unproven OCs—-but why roll the dice when you can pair Rosen up with the best possible coach?
In vetting the young, exciting offensive minded head coaching prospects across the NFL, I have narrowed my short list to 4 candidates—-here they are in alphabetical order:
- John DeFilippo (40)—-offensive coordinator of the Vikings.
Flip was my #1 choice this year for the Cardinals’ head coaching position. Bidwill and Keim interviewed him during the playoffs, but, alas, did not view him as a finalist.
What I love about Flip is that each week in preparation of the next opponent and what would work best against their defense, Flip draws up a detailed package of core plays (catered to down and distance) that he first presents to his QBs. He was so effective with this in Philly as their QB coach (Carson Wentz, Nick Foles), that the Eagles made him their red zone offense coordinator.
Check out this video of Flip’s red zone philosophy:
This year as the Vikings’ OC, Flip has already captured the imaginations of the local sports writers so much that they are already speculating that if the Vikings falter this year they will let Mike Zimmer go and promote Flip to head coach. Obviously, Flip’s chemistry with QB Kirk Cousins is very likely the key to the Vikings’ present and future success.
2. Nathaniel Hackett (38)—-offensive coordinator of the Jaguars.
Nathaniel Hackett, son of QB guru Paul Hackett, is making quite a name for himself in Jacksonville. Look at the job he has done with QB Blake Bortles over the past few years. Bortles has steadily improved under Hackett’s diligent tutelage.
Imagine, therefore, what Hackett could do with Josh Rosen.
Plus, Hackett’s offense is built around a productive rushing attack, which would be a boon for David Johnson and Chase Edmonds.
This short video will give you a feeling for hHackett’s command of a practice and his passion:
3. Matt LaFleur (38)—-offensive coordinator of the Titans.
Matt LaFleur was the OC of the Rams last year and helped to develop QB Jared Goff. He decided to accept Mike Vrable’s offer to come to Tennessee as the OC because in LA, as we know, Sean McVay calls the plays.
Look at what LaFleur has been able to accomplish with the Titans in 4 games. They are 3-1. They won a game with QB2 Blaine Gabbert when QB1 Marcus Mariotta was out. And last week during an OT thriller versus the Eagles, Vrable had such confidence in Mariotta and his offense that instead of going for a 50 yard FG (with one of best FG kickers in the NFL Ryan Succop) to tie game, Vrable decided to go for it on 4th and 2. Fast forward to the 3:40 mark and watch these late game heroics by Mariotta and the Titans:
4. Josh McDaniels (42)—-offensive coordinator of the Patriots.
While McDaniels spurned the Colts at the last minute when Bob Kraft offered him a sizable raise—-as tensions mount in New England—-this could be the year that McDaniels flies the coop.
Obviously, McDaniels has the most big game experience of any OC in the NFL. Some liken Josh Rosen’s skillset to Tom Brady’s—-thus, it’s possible that McDaniels could hop at the chance to groom Rosen.
What would make McDaniels a great fit in Arizona is not only how he could develop Josh Rosen, but no OC in the NFL is more creative with a stable of highly versatile RBs than McDaniels.
Here is a short video that highlights the creativity of McDaniels’ play calling:
I hope that the Cardinals prioritize the importance of putting Josh Rosen in the best possible hands. If they do, I hope that the front office involves Josh in the hiring process. It is of utmost importance to get this right. Success at the QB position today should be every team’s #1 priority. Not sure why the Cardinals didn't look at it that way this past off-season, but hopefully they will in 2019.