When I learned that the Cardinals hired Spencer Whipple as the Offensive Quality Control coach, I messaged my good friend, Brian Mulrooney, to ask if he could get the scoop from his buddy Mark Whipple.
Brian was able to talk with Whip yesterday and here is the scoop.
”No connection at all,” Brian said. “A couple of years ago Spencer met Kliff Kingsbury at a coaching clinic and they had a good talk afterward, but it wasn’t as if Kingsbury called Spencer to ask if he would be interested in joining the Cardinals’ staff.”
”What happened is as simple as this. Whip suggested to his son that now is the perfect time to get started in the NFL, that he polish up his resume and hand it directly in person to the Cardinals. Spencer did so on Monday. The Cardinals called him back Tuesday for an interview and Spencer was officially hired on Wednesday. Just like that.”
”Quality control positions are usually titles given to young coaches who the organization wants on their staff,” Brian continued. “Spencer is very impressive when you meet him in person. When Whip was the QB coach for the Steelers, Spencer sat next to me one game. He was 19 or 20 years old then and he knew every formation and all of the Steelers’ tendencies, so much so that he could predict the plays. Whip had always told me that Spencer was going to go far in the coaching profession because he’s very knowledgeable, media savvy and extremely articulate.”
”Walter, it’s a good bet that Spencer will be an NFL offensive coordinator within 5 years, and possible sooner.”
So then we got talking about our favorite teams. One thing Brian and I have in common is that we are native New Englanders who have never been Patriots’ fans. Both of us picked our favorite teams in the 1960s when we were kids. I picked the Cardinals and my idol was FS Larry Wilson. Brian picked the Browns, and his idol was RB Jim Brown.
”Like you as a Cardinals’ fan, Walter, despite the historic ineptitude of the Browns, I have stayed a loyal fan. It’s tough to watch all of these Patriots’ fans gloat over the Super Bowl rings and the G.O.A.T., but I don’t care. The Browns will always be my team.”
”And now it seems we have a quarterback. Baker Mayfield. To be honest, in the draft last year, I wanted the Browns to take RB Saquan Barkley at #1, DE Bradley Chubb at #4 and then trade up to draft QB Lamar Jackson.”
I said, “Man, Brian, Lamar Jackson was my top choice for the Cardinals.”
”But it worked out great that we drafted Mayfield, and I love the RB we took in Nick Chubb. He’s a force between the tackles.”
I said, “Yeah, and now you have one of our old coaches as head coach in Freddie Kitchens.”
”I like him,” Brian said.
I said, “Yeah, he’s a pisser. He seems made to order for Mayfield. Amazing the Cardinals had him on their staff for 10 years and never really knew what they had in Kitchens.”
Brian said, “Yeah and we just hired your ex head coach Steve Wilks as DC. What do you think of him?”
”I can tell you this---Wilks knows how to dial up pressure from all different angles. The problem was he tried to switch the Cardinals to the 43 and the Cardinals’ linebackers were poor fits for it. The 43 looks good with linebackers like Keuchly, Davis and Thompson. You have to have fast, instinctive tough guys who can stuff the run and be agile and athletic enough to play a combination of man and zone coverage. Your linebackers on the Browns are better for the 43 than the Cardinals’, so you’ll have a better chance.”
Then we had a fascinating talk about Kyler Murray. I will leave that discussion up to your imagination.
Keim Feathering the Nest:
* Acquiring ILB Tanner Vallejo via waivers. Good STs player. Could compete at WILB.
* Signing CB Robert Alford (Falcons)---to what essentially is a 2 year deal with a club option on the 3rd year, per the guaranteed money of $13.5M. Yes, Alford is 30 and coming off a sub par injury-plagued season (high ankle sprain). A 2nd round pick in 2013, Alford was the CB star of the Combine, earning the top CB scores in the 40 (4.39), 225 reps (17), vertical jump (40”) and broad jump (132”)---plus he scored a superb time on the 3 cone at 6.89. The hope is that he will cover the #2 WRs such as Tyler Lockett, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Pierre Garcon and Dante Pettis---and should receive frequent safety help with Patrick Peterson blanketing the #1 WR. Alford is best in press coverage and thus fits the 34 style of defense Vance Joseph wants to play. Alford cited his friendship with Peterson as the reason why he chose Arizona over a host of other teams. Having 2 CBs who can run sub 4.4 times is a real plus.
* Signing 34OLB Brooks Reed. Value signing because he is very good at setting the edge, something the Cardinals have struggled with in recent years---and this allows an edge rotation and edge flexibility. This would allow, for instance, the Cardinals to start Reed at OLB in the 34 and then come in with Nick Bosa on all passing situations.
The upside of these moves:
* Signing recently cut veterans does not count toward compensatory picks.
* Alford and Reed played in the Super Bowl a year and one week ago. They know what it takes to get there.
* Keim wants to add veterans to the defense to make it a strong point and give the team a fighting chance to win.
* The fact that the Cardinals are beating other teams to the punch could set an auspicious tone for their popularity in free agency.