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Cardinals Go Full Monti

Team owner Michael Bidwill continued his stripping of the Cardinals’ staff yesterday by hiring former Patriots Director of College Scouting and Titans Director of Player Personnel Monti Ossenfort as the team’s successor to Steve Keim as GM.

By electing to hire his GM from the outside for the first time since hiring Buddy Ryan as GM/HC back in 1993, in essence, Michael Bidwill, feeling that he and the franchise are at the end of their ropes, is staging his NFL version of The Full Monti.

To hear Monti Ossenfort’s name as the Cardinals’ new GM came as quite a surprise to most, including myself, as evidenced by the GM poll I waged for Cardinals’ fans over the weekend:

I have to give tons of credit for how well researched the 184 Cardinals’ fans were who voted in this poll. I chose Ran Carthon in light of his connect to DeMeco Ryans. I had a hunch that Joe Hortiz would be a name recommended by Sean Payton. And I imagined that Ian Cunningham could be linked to the Eagles’ OC Shane Steichen.

Kudos to the fans as well for sensing that Michael Bidwill was going to go outside of the organization to make this hire.

Over the weekend, when I was surprised and pleased to learn that the Cardinals have expressed interest in interviewing Brian Flores for head coach, I did not pick up pn the instant connection that Flores has with Monti Ossenfort.

However, the second I heard Ossenfort’s name as Cardinals’ GM, bells were ringing. And as my esteemed coaching mentor, Miles Hubbard of Trinity-Pawling School, would say, “there’s nothing wrong with getting little excited.”

If, in fact, Monti Ossenfort was hired to be paired with Brian Flores as head coach, it means that Michael Bidwill is now placing a priority on GM/HC chemistry and direct lines of communication and understanding.

Yesterday, in my article about Brian Flores, I noted that over the span of his 20 year career 19 of his teams had winning records. Over the span of Monti Ossenfort’s 21 year career, 17 of his his teams have had winning records and 15 of his teams were division champions (13 in NE and 2 in TEN). Flores and Ossenfort were on Bill Belichick’s staff for 4 of the Patriot’s Super Bowl wins.

To put this kind of winning in perpsective, the 15 division championships that Ossenfort’s teams have been a part of created 15 automatic home games in the playoffs. Throughout the entire 102 year history of the Cardinals they have only had 17 playoff games (7-10) in total.

Chemistry between the GM and HC is something the Cardinals have been lacking and the lack of it was a central cause for Kliff Kingsbury’s demise in Arizona. The allegiance between Kingsbury and Steve Keim was held together by gossamer threads. Or should we say by puppet strings?

While Michael Bidwill insists that the current Cardinals’ roster has enough talent to perform a “quick turnaround”, with the uncertainty over Kyler Murray’s ACL rehab timetable and the fact that the Cardinals have 33 players right now who are free agents, Monti Ossenfort and his head coach are faced with the formidable and yet exciting task of re-building the Cardinals’ roster.

Ossenfort is going to need valuable input from Michael Bidwill, Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson when it comes to prioritizing the re-signing of the Cardinals own free agents, especially in light of there being 33 in total.

One has to wonder what Quentin Harris and Adrian Wilson must be feeling about being passed over for Ossenfort. On the one hand, Monti Ossenfort has the more extensive and impressive resume. Perhaps, Q and A-Dub will be able to concede and understand that. On the other hand, as hard as these men have worked for the organization, it would only be natural for them to feel overlooked.

It will be up to Bidwill and Ossenfort to galvanize the front office as a functional and spirited team. If egos get in the way, changes will have to be made, as so often they are, when new leadership arrives.

Seth Cox did an outstanding job of outlining Monti Ossenfort’s strengths in building offensive and defensive lines and in promoting a hard-nosed, physical brand of football.

Here is the crux of Seth’s evidence:

In Ossenfort’s time with both teams, an emphasis has been along the offensive and defensive lines.

Look at the picks:

Dominique Easley (DE) 2014 first round for New England Patriots

Malcolm Brown (DL) 2015 first round pick for Patriots

Geneo Grissom (DE) 2015 third round pick for Patriots

Trey Flowers (DE) 2015 fourth round pick for Patriots

Tre’ Jackson (OL) 2015 fourth round pick for Patriots

Shaq Mason (OL) 2015 fourth round pick for Patriots

Joe Thuney (OL) 2016 third round pick for Patriots

Vincent Valentine (DT) 2016 third round pick for Patriots

Ted Karras (OL) 2016 sixth round pick for Patriots

Derek Rivers (DE) 2017 third round pick for Patriots

Antonio Garcia (OL) 2017 third round pick for Patriots

Deatrich Wise Jr. (DE) 2017 fourth round pick for Patriots

Isaiah Wynn (OL) 2018 first round pick for Patriots

Chase Winovich (DE) 2019 third round pick for Patriots

Yodny Cajuste (OL) 2019 third round pick for Patriots

Hjakte Froholdt (OL) 2019 fourth round pick for Patriots

Byron Cowart (DL) 2019 fifth round pick for Patriots

Dillon Radunz (OL) 2020 second round pick for Tennessee Titans

Rashad Weaver (DL) 2020 fourth round pick for Titans

Nicholas Petit-Frere (OL) 2020 third round pick for Titans

12 top three round picks on OL and DL and Mason and Karras were massive successes on day three.

The Cardinals in the Keim era drafted 10 offensive or defensive linemen/edge rushers in the top three rounds. No day three successes either.

As I said to my buddies, I would rather swing and miss like Ossenfort has on the offensive and defensive fronts than use 12 top three round picks on wide receivers, tight ends and off ball linebackers.

If the Cardinals could build a line with a Wynn, Thuney, Karras, Mason... Man that would be quite the departure.

Here is a look at some 2023 UFAs whom Monti Ossenfort had a hand in drafting or signing:

  • QB Jacoby Brissett, 30, 82.6
  • RB Damien Harris, 25, 75.8
  • T Isaiah Wynn, 26, 54.6
  • CB Jonathan Jones, 29, 68.1
  • G Aaron Brewer, 25, 59.9 (RFA)
  • LB David Long, 26, 76.2
  • S Lonnie Johnson, 25, 64.8
  • RB Dontrell Hilliard, 27, 67.1
  • DE DeMarcus Walker, 28, 72.8 (8 sacks, 32 pressures)
  • CB Terrence Mitchell, 30, 61.2
  • C Corey Levin, 28, 68.3
  • S Andrew Adams, 30, 70.6
  • DT Da’Shawn Hand, 27, 68.3
  • NT Teair Tart, 26, 73.1 (RFA)
  • CB Joshua Kalu, 27, 68.0
  • G Nate Davis, 26, 70.6

The 4 UFAs who appeal most to me are RB Damien Harris, CB Jonathan Jones, LB David Long and G Nate Davis. The RFA who could be a coup for the Cardinals is NT Teair Tart.

Is Ossenfort a Fan of Kyler?

There are two main reasons to believe why Monti Ossenfort would be high on Kyler Murray:

1 —- in light of the Titans’ QB woes the past two seasons.

2 —- he had a front row seat to see Kyler Murray play one of the best games of his career, Week 1 of 2021. Kyler passed for 21/32, 289 yards, 9.0 ave. 4 TDs, 1 int. rating of 120.9. Plus, Kyler ran 4 tees for 20 yards (5.0 ave.) and scored a TD on the bootleg with JJ Watt as TE where it looked like a designed run where Kyler faked out everyone on both sides.

The question is what kind of a plan Ossenfort and the new HC will have at QB and for Kyler Murray. That’s a question that he and the new HC are going to have to answer for months.

With Monti Ossenfort on board, one can expect there to be added emphases on winning the battles up front on both sides of the ball, on having a consistently strong running game, on stopping the run and on creating tremendous pressure on the opposing QBs with pesky pass coverage on the back end.

In order to accomplish all of this, Ossenfort will have to assemble a staff of coaches who fit and embrace the team’s points of emphasis.

What do you think of this bold, new move by Michael Bidwill?

It’s exciting to me to see him go for The Full Monti.

After all, going The Full Monty is what some people happen to do when they are at their wit’s end.