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Vance #2 Favorite to be Cardinals Next HC?

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Dallas Cowboys v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

During Michael Bidwill’s firing of Kliff Kingsbury press conference he said he was going to cast “the widest of nets” in his search for the team’s new GM and HC.

Yet, as of today, the odds makers at OddsCheckers, as reported by azcentral’s Jeremy Cluff

the current favorites to be appointed the Cardinals head coach are::

  • +250 —- Sean Payton (NO HC)
  • +700 —- Vance Joseph (ARI DC)
  • +750 —- Shane Steichen (PHI OC)
  • +1000 —- Jim Harbaugh (Michigan)
  • +1000 —- DeMeco Ryans (SF DC)
  • +1200 —- Dan Quinn (DAL DC)
  • +1200 —- Ben Johnson (DET OC)
  • +1200 —- Byron Leftwich (TB OC)
  • +1200 —-Eric Bienemy (KC OC)

For those of you who are high on Vance Joseph, I apologize, but I cannot possibly fathom how a defensive coordinator who doesn’t preach or teach contain and has a habit of playing porous, absurdly soft zones without covering TEs and RBs, especially late in 4th quarters with games on the line could possibly be in consideration for the head coaching position.

Not to mention Vance’s ‘hockey lines” substitution patterns and penchant for playing cat and mouse mind games with top defensive draft picks. Those two factors in themselves should remove him from any possible consideration.

What’s been nagging me all season is the insane number of times that whenever the offense would manage to gain some momentum by scoring a TD or timely FG, that on the very next possession —- the defense, no matter how well they may have been playing in that game to keep the game close —- would immediately surrender a TD or costly FG.

So this morning I went to check the play-by-plays in the Cardinals’ 13 losses to see if my eyes had been deceiving me. And this is what I found

Week 1: KC 44 ARI 21 —- Cardinals score TD to cut Chiefs’ lead to 14-7. Next possession: Chiefs score TD to increase the lead to 21-7

Week 3: LAR 20 ARI 12 —- Cardinals kick FG to cut Rams’ lead to 13-9. Next possession: Rams score TD to increase the lead to 20-9.

Week 5: PHI 20 ARI 17 —- Cardinals score TD to tie the game at 17-17. Next possession: Eagles score FG to take 20-17 lead.

Week 6: SEA 19 ARI 9 —- Cardinals score TD to cut Seahawks lead to 12-9. Next possession: Seahawks score TD to increase the lead to 19-9.

Week 8: MIN 34 ARI 26 —- Cardinals score TD to take 17-14 lead.. Next possession: Vikings score TD to take back the lead 21-17.

Week 9 SEA 31 ARI 21 —- on an interception TD Cardinals take 14-10 lead. Next possession Seahawks score TD to retake the lead at 17-14. In second half, Cardinals score a TD to cut the lead to 21-24. Next possession Seahawks score TD to increase the lead to 31-21.

Week 10: SF 38 ARI 10 —- Cardinals kick FG to cut 49ers’; lead to 14-10. Next possession: 49ers kick FG to increase the lead to 17-10 at halftime, Defense gives up two quick TDs and 28 points in 2nd half.

Week 13: LAC 25 ARI 24 —- Chargers, down 8 with less than 2 minutes left in the game, get easy runs and catches from RB Austin Ekeler whose TD reception cuts the Cardinals lead to 24-23 and then Justin Herbert hits a wide open TE Gerald Everett for game winning 2 point conversion.

Week 14: NE 27 ARI 13 —- Cardinals kick FG to take 3-0 lead. Next possession: Patriots score TD to go up 7-3. Defense gives up 17 points in second half.

Week 15: DEN 24 ARI 15 —- after what was the defense’s most dominating 1st half of the season versus Broncos offense with Brett Rypien at QB, to start the2nd half, Cardinals kick FG to go up 9-3. Next possession Broncos score TD to take 10-9 lead. Then on their next possession Broncos score a TD to take 17-9 lead. This one made absolutely no sense,

Week 16: TB 19 ARI 16 OT: Cardinals score 2nd half TD to take 16-6 lead. Next possession Bucs score TD to cut the lead to 16-13. Bucs’ drive in OT was 66 yards to set game winng FG.

Week 17: ATL 20 ARI 19 —- Cardinals kick late 4th quarter FG to take 19-17 lead. Next possession: Falcons go 72 yards in 12 plays covering 4:57 minutes and kick the game winning FG with time expiring.

Week 18 SF 38 ARI 13 —- Cardinals score TD to take 6-0 lead. Next possession 49ers score TD to take 7-6 lead. Cardinals score TD to cut the 49ers lead to 14-13. Next possession 49ers score TD to take 21-13 lead.

This is absolutely insane, isn’t it?

These are next possession reversals of whatever momentum the Cardinals’ offense had generated.

The Cardinals defense created the bulk of their buzz with their pick-sixes, the OT fumble scoop to the house in Las Vegas by Byron Murphy, Budda Baker’s inspired Pro Bowler level of play and JJ Watt’s stunning tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. Vance deserves his rightful share of credit for that. Wouldn’t begrudge him that credit in the least.

But, what’s been nagging at me to no end was the redundant way in which the Cardinals lost their close games, especially the 3 closes ones down the stretch and each time Vance Joseph played his soft zones and loose coverage on simple swing passes and bubble screens and easy RB out passes. From week to week, Vance did not even try a different approach.

This made me feel so bad for Kliff and the players who wanted so badly to win this games —- and to not even come away with one of them —- man, that was tough.

It also made me wonder whether sub-consciously or perhaps even deliberately, Vance didn't want to see the team win games, for fear that Kliff Kingsbury would be retained. It’s pretty clear that on HBO’s Hard Knocks Vance has been posturing for the head coaching job. Would it be surprising to you to think that Vance believes he is way more qualified for the job than Kliff and that of anyone own the staff, he deserves it?

Plus, while we don’t know the specifics yet about why Kliff wanted to fire OLC Sean Kugler, Kliff must have believed that Kugler was undermining him —- and again, would Kugler believe that he is imminently more qualified for an NFL head coaching job than Kliff?

When Steve Keim promoted Kugler to running game coordinator, my instinct at the time was that Keim could have been setting Kugler up to be the next head coach. That wouldn’t have surprised me in the least. After all, I never had the sense that Keim was comfortable having Kliff as the head coach. Did you?

Do you think Kugler and Joseph were happy to hear that Kliff got his 5 year extension?

Nonetheless, it is amazing to think of what Kliff was able to accomplish in 2020 and 2021 given the situations with his controlling GM and the coaches his GM hired.

This is precisely why head coaches want to hire their own assistants.

Vance has a great voice and he’s passionate and obviously Michael Bidwill loves him based on the bear hug he gave Vance on the sidelines before the Broncos’ game.

But, when looking at Vance’s flaws, patterns and propensities as a defensive coordinator, man, to think of him, when all is said and done, as winding up as the coach that Bidwill is going to pull out of the “widest of nets”, is unfathomable and, quite frankly, undeserved.

Furthermore, who would be Vance’s DC, Billy Davis?

Please, will someone make an argument that Vance belongs at or near the top of this year’s list of defensive-minded head coaching candidates, which include:

  • Dan Quinn
  • DeMeco Ryans
  • Brian Flores
  • Jerrod May
  • Raheem Morris
  • Lovie Smith
  • Jonathan Gannon
  • Leslie Frazier
  • Ejiro Evero.

Where would you rank Vance Joseph amongst these defensive-minded HC candidates?