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Arizona Cardinals head coaching search update: Who’s on the list so far? Who’s not?

The Cardinals coaching searching is kicking into high gear. Let’s see which candidates are on the team’s list and which ones aren’t—yet.

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NFL: London Games-Miami Dolphins Practice
Brian Flores has a long history with new Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort. Could he be the next head coach of the Cardinals?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been 10 days since the Cardinals fired former head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Having hired former Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort as GM, expect the coaching search to ramp up fast. Here’s where things stand as of Wednesday, 1/18.

Cardinals Coach Tracker

Candidate Permission? Interview Scheduled? Interview Complete?
Candidate Permission? Interview Scheduled? Interview Complete?
Vance Joseph N/A
Sean Payton X X
DeMeco Ryans X X
Brian Flores X X
Frank Reich N/A
Ejiro Evero X X
Aaron Glenn X

Who’s on the list so far?

This far, these are the only seven candidates officially linked with the Cardinals. The only two candidates who have been interviewed are Joseph, who’s an internal candidate, and Reich, a coaching free agent after being fired midseason by the Colts. Scheduling interviews with candidates from other NFL teams is a bit trickier, but we reportedly have an interview scheduled with Glenn on Saturday, and Flores and Evero should follow shortly, as their teams didn’t make the playoffs like Glenn’s Lions.

Ryans’s 49ers are still very much alive in the playoffs, so the Cardinals may need to wait to schedule an interview with him. As far as Sean Payton goes, he’s already directly spoken or interviewed with several teams—but not the Cardinals. One NFL insider is wondering whether the Cardinals’ hiring of Ossenfort has soured Payton on coming to the desert, as he’s rumored to want personnel control. Will he even interview with us at this point?

So that’s the list as of now. Everyone but Glenn was discussed in my recent wishlist piece. He’d have slotted into Tier 3 with Ryans and Evero. Although he’s not exactly a “young” hotshot at 50 years old, he also only has 8 years of NFL coaching experience, including just 2 at the coordinator level. These three are a bit green for my liking, and they’re defensive coaches—I’m of the opinion that we should hire another offensive-minded head coach.

The remaining names are more experienced, but only two seem like realistic strong candidates at this point: Reich and Flores. The chances that we’ll land Payton seem to be diminishing every day, and under no circumstances should this team hire Joseph, so I won’t be discussing him further. Between Reich and Flores, I’d slightly prefer Reich—again, he’s an offensive guy, and he did a solid job in Indianapolis before the organization failed around him this past season. Like Reich, Flores got a raw deal at the end of his last head coaching stop in Miami. He’s well-respected around the league and has a long history with our new GM from their days together in New England. No wonder his odds of becoming our next coach are surging. I think he’d be a good—although not quite great—hire.

Who’s not on the list?

Two big names that haven’t been directly linked to the Cardinals’ coaching search are Jim Harbaugh and Eric Bieniemy. It doesn’t *seem* like Harbaugh is going to leave Michigan this year, but you never know. But is the Cardinals job really the one he would leave Ann Arbor for? And Bieniemy, who is obviously still coaching with the Chiefs in the playoffs, really seems like he’s waiting for the perfect job to strike out on his own. Again, is the Cardinals job that job?

A couple younger names who have been turning through the Cardinals rumor mill are Lions OC Ben Johnson and Eagles OC Shane Steichen. Well, you can scratch Johnson’s name off the list—he’s staying with Detroit for at least another season. As for Steichen, he’s already interviewed with at least the Texans, Panthers, and Colts. It doesn’t seem like the Cardinals have even requested permission from the Eagles to interview him yet. Perhaps because they were still finalizing their GM search/hire? Although he was a little further down my tier list, he’s someone I’d hope the Cardinals would at least inquire about.

One final name not on the list so far to keep an eye on: Titans DC Shane Bowen. He wasn’t on my initial list, but he’s the hottest name on the rumor list now due to his obvious connection to our new GM, who came over from Tennessee. He doesn’t really fit my criteria—he’s a defensive guy with just 6 years of NFL coaching experience—but he’s well regarded and has done solid work with the Titans defense for the most part. I don’t think he’s a particularly strong candidate, but he’s a buzzy name and the connections are there.

Final Thoughts

Assuming names like Payton, Harbaugh, and Bieniemy are out, it seems like our next head coach will be one of Frank Reich, Brian Flores, or DeMeco Ryans, whom the team seems to be quite high on. Note that this isn’t based on any insider info or anything—it’s just a gut feeling.

Maybe Payton reconsiders, or maybe Evero or Glenn really knock their interview out of the park. Maybe Ossenfort brings his former team’s bright young DC over. Or maybe the Cardinals do the unthinkable and really give the job to Joseph. *shudders* Any of those scenarios are in play—or perhaps another darkhorse soon emerges.

But I think it’ll really come down to Reich, Flores, and Ryans. I’ll admit to being intrigued by Ryans, and I’m also a Dolphins fan in my spare time and have a lot of respect for Flores. But I think Reich would be the best hire of these three. He has a ton of experience (plus a Super Bowl ring!) and a strong offensive background. I’d be very pleased if he were to be hired as our next head coach.

How about y’all? Let us know your thoughts in the poll below and in the comments.


Who do you want to be the next Cardinals head coach?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Brian Flores
    (124 votes)
  • 30%
    Frank Reich
    (149 votes)
  • 25%
    DeMeco Ryans
    (122 votes)
  • 18%
    I’m holding out hope for another candidate.
    (89 votes)
484 votes total Vote Now