There’s been a lot that the Arizona Cardinals are looking for in a head coach.
With news that Bruce Arians is likely returning to the NFL, teams seem less intent on finding “The Next Bruce Arians” (when they can get the ACTUAL one) and more on finding the young offensive guru in Sean McVay and pairing them with a former head coach or defensive coordinator, like the Rams and Bears did with Wade Phillips and Vic Fangio.
But is that the right move?
The Cardinals themselves had just a similar move last year in hiring a first-time head coach in Steve Wilks without much experience and adding in a former head coach in Mike McCoy.
It just failed.
Quite spectacularly, in fact.
Wilks went one-and-done and it brought up concerns about the team needing to find a coach who’s been there before, which is part of why a retread, older option like Jim Caldwell came up.
But there’s another option—one that’s available but hasn’t been connected to Arizona so far in any way.
Here’s what Arizona’s looking for and why they should be requesting to interview Bucs coordinator Todd Monken for their head coaching vacancy. Just like other teams are.
Todd Monken interviewing for Packers job tonight, per source. Former Bucs OC also meeting with Bengals on Monday, Jets on Tuesday.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 5, 2019
And guess what? The Cardinals are looking for experience at the coaching position
Monken, 52, has a wealth of experience. Following his wikipedia page, a painting that’s actually similar to the Cards former coach in Bruce Arians takes place (although he’s a decade younger at least than when BA was named a head coach).
Starting as an assistant at Grand Valley, Monken ended up as a GA at Notre Dame and ended up serving under current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly at one point. He moved to Louisiana Tech to coach running backs before he landed a big-time gig at Oklahoma State University as their passing game and wide receivers coach from 2002-2004.
Under Les Miles and Mike Gundy.
Yep, that Mike Gundy and that Les Miles with an offensive explosion (but few wins). They moved to Louisiana State University in 2005 and Monken followed him.
Louisiana State University’s era was fantastic with a STACKED roster.
-Head Coach Les Miles.
-Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher
-Defensive Coordinator Bo Pelini
-And Todd Monken was their passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach for JaMarcus Russell (a #1 pick) and multiple NFL draft picks at wide receiver.
Notice the trends?
Post LSU, he returned to Oklahoma State and Mike Gundy when he took that job and mentored wide receiver Justin Blackmon into one of the most productive careers in college football history and elevated Brandon Weeden into a 1st round pick at age 28 years old.
He took on a head coaching job shortly after at Southern Miss as an 0-12 football team.
Guess what happened to them?
In two years he had successfully developed Southern Miss Quarterback Nick Mullins into a guy who ended up being a starting quarterback for the Niners and took the team from 0-12 to 9-5 and a loss in the Conference-USA championship game in three years.
Imagine taking a collegiate team that can’t win a game and having to take on ALL of the recruiting, developing, coaching and building that program from a winless laughingstock to a runner-up in just two recruiting classes.
Monken ended up taking on an NFL job under Dirk Koetter with the Bucs as the offensive coordinator, and the team’s offense performed well, but mostly average for his first two years.
Then in this past year of 2018, he took over calling plays from Dirk Koetter in the preseason.
And it stuck. The Bucs seemed to strike gold and for a few weeks had the #1 offense in the National Football League, averaging around 30 points a game. At one point, Koetter took back the play-calling duties for a game.
#Bucs average points per game:— Evan Silva (@evansilva) November 12, 2018
When Dirk Koetter calls plays: 3.0
When Todd MFin Monken calls plays: 28.6
The Bucs only scored 3 points...despite 500 yards of offense in Monken’s scheme. Reluctantly, duties were returned to Monken after that game and it became obvious where the success was coming from.
The Bucs still had struggles with Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick (particularly with turnovers and being unable to stop anyone with their pass defense) but ended the season with a rotation at QB with the 3rd overall offense in the NFL this year.
Think about that.
And right up there is Todd Monken’s Buccaneers group at #3.
Given his history, wherever Monken goes, one thing is clear:
He has a proven track record of offense.
And what’s more:
He has a track record of turning bad teams and bad offenses around.
Monken might not be the young QB guru...but his resume reads about two pages longer than the Adam Gase’s and Kliff Kingsbury’s of the world.
Another thing that the Cardinals are looking for?
A man who can put together a staff. Monken at 52 has been in both college circles (elite ones at that) and also NFL circles for the last 3 years.
He’ll have more connections than a Kingsbury and unlike an Adam Gase, can dip into his college connections to build a staff. But perhaps the most important reason, in my opinion?
It’s that he and Josh Rosen will be like-minded in their approach to offense.
Monken is an aggressive-downfield play-caller very much like Bruce Arians but he has a better track record with his quarterbacks as far as avoiding injury and keeping them upright in the pocket. None of his quarterbacks have turned into Andrew Luck or Patrick Mahomes (mind you) but they’ve all shown NFL capabilities wherever he’s gone.
Rosen is just as aggressive as a passer as we’ve seen this year, and the “attacking” mentality that he showed this year fits well with Monken’s agenda...given that Todd Monken’s 2018 Bucs offense was ONLY surpassed in how deep they threw by one team.
The 2015 Arizona Cardinals.
Bruce Arians and the Bucs would be an interesting and exciting fit. Over the past seven seasons, the three greatest air yards/attempt for a team were:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 5, 2019
1. 2015 Cardinals (coached by Arians): 10.49 AY/A
2. 2018 Bucs: 10.48 AY/A
3. 2014 Cardinals (coached by Arians): 10.39 AY/A
So let’s check the boxes here...
- Years of experience including head coach experience
- Wealth of knowledge, production on offense in college and NFL
- Developed young QB’s at college level & offensive production w/ the pros
- Dynamic impact as a play-caller
- High-level contacts as coaches
- Offensive design & mentality fits Rosen
Well...what are the Cardinals waiting for?
Pick up the phone & give Todd Monken a call at the very least.
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