There is no question that the Arizona Cardinals are building for the long run. In QB Kyler Murray, they now have their young franchise QB for the first time in eons. In HC Kliff Kingsbury, they have one of the more diverse, innovative play callers in the NFL.
There is a buzz about the direction of this team because of its youthful talent and its exciting style of offense.
But what the Cardinals need now, imo, is a leadership fraternity, starting at GM.
These next three drafts are the most important drafts in the franchise’s history.
The Cardinals need a draft guru—-and one who immediately comes to mind is the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah.
Jeremiah was an NFL scout for the Ravens, Browns and Eagles. His mock drafts have been about as accurate as anyone’s. He knows his way around the NFL Combine and has commanded the analyst booth at the NFL Draft.
Teaming Daniel Jeremiah with Kliff Kingsbury would be the start of creating a united, youthful leadership fraternity in Arizona—-one that could last for a couple of decades, as both Jeremiah and Kingsbury are in their early 40s.
In his final mock draft (4.0) last April—-Jeremiah stayed firm in his belief that not only would the Cardinals select Kyler Murray, they should select Kyler Murray. Here is an interview DJ did with Rick Eisen right before Kyler Murray was measured at the Combine—-at a time when most pundits were backing off of Kyler—-listen to what DJ had to say:
It took guts for draft pundits to show conviction in Murray particularly before the combine when scouts were convinced Murray was 5’8” and had small hands. Jeremiah’s assessment of Murray was spot-on.
Impressively, DJ hit on the following 1st round predictions: 1. ARI—-QB Murray; 2. SF—-DE Bosa; 3. NYJ—-DT Williams; 5. TB—-LB D. White; 13. MIA—-DT Wilkins; 15. WAS—-QB Haskins; 17. NYG—-QB Jones (traded up); 18. MIN—-C Bradbury; 24. OAK—-RB Jacobs.
if you recall, the New York Jets were the first NFL team to express interest in hiring Kliff Kingsbury. How many Jets’ fans would want to trade Adam Gase for Kingsbury right now?
Well, last spring the Jets were also considering Daniel Jeremiah for a front office position.
So, let’s go and snag him the way we snagged Kingsbury.
With John Lynch and Mike Mayock having success as GMs—-particularly in their ability to attract free agents and orchestrate the draft—-Daniel Jeremiah could be just what the Cardinals need to take the current buzz to the next level.
Now the next part of this proposed fraternity may come as a surprise—-but again, while searching for a defensive coordinator who would be a natural and talented fit in this leadership fraternity—--one who is of a similar age and intensity as Kingsbury and Jeremiah—the guy who perhaps best fits that bill, imo, is the Bears’ defensive line coach, Jay Rodgers, the brother of the Cardinals’ assistant head coach and special teams’ coordinator, Jeff Rodgers.
Jay Rodgers has 11 years of NFL experience—-and it says a lot that the Bears have fiercely hung on to him through head coaching changes, Rodgers has been the Bears’ defensive line coach for the past 5 years and in that time he has built them into a dominant force.
Jay and Jeff Rodgers, like Kliff Kingsbury, are the sons of coaches. Their dad, Randy Rodgers coached at Texas and Illinois. While their dad was at Texas, they played for one of the top programs in the state: Westlake High School in Austin. Drew Brees and Nick Foles are two of the more famous Westlake alums. In fact, Jeff Rodgers and Drew Brees were Westlake schoolmates.
Here is Jay Rodgers’ interview a few weeks ago when he was asked about DT Akiem Hicks:
Jay Rodgers is a 34 coach (gotta love that Chandler Jones!)—-and working hand in hand with Daniel Jeremiah with ample cap space, they could quickly add stronger 34 personnel.
The Bears have three 2020 UFAs on defense who might aid and abet such a transition: LB Danny Trevathan (who reminds me a lot of Larry Foote), FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (size and 4.5 speed, 75.4 PFF grade) and DT Nick Williams (currently having his best season in his 5th year, 69.8 PFF grade in 299 snaps).
Bringing the Bears’ defensive approach and mentality to the Cardinals is just what this defense needs.
The Cardinals should keep Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson as Director of Player Personnel and Director of Pro Scouting respectively. Both of them are on their way to being GMs some day. Maybe Michael Bidwill feels one of them is already ready? But, if the Cardinals want a splash hire who could immediately attract free agents and draft picks to Arizona, Daniel Jeremiah is that guy.
Cardinals Leadership Proposal:
GM—-Daniel Jeremiah (41)
HC/OC—-Kliff Kingsbury (40)
DC—-Jay Rodgers (43)
STC—-Jeff Rodgers (44)
DPP—-Quentin Harris (42)
DPS—-Adrian Wilson (40)
As the ad exec in the play “Twelve Angry Men” would say, “I think I’ll string it up the flagpole and see who salutes it.”
The question is: will Michael Bidwill salute something like this?