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Arizona Cardinals head coaching search update: What’s changed since last week?

Where does the Cardinals head coaching search stand after three weeks? Let’s check in with the candidates.

NFL: New Orleans Saints-Press Conference
The Cardinals have reportedly finally interviewed Sean Payton for their HC opening.
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

We’re now on the third week of the Arizona Cardinals head coaching search. To put things in perspective, Kliff Kingsbury was hired on January 8, 2019, just 8 days after Steve Wilks was fired. Of course, this hiring process is a bit different because the Cardinals were also hiring a GM, but the Cardinals are definitely taking more time to make this decision. Here’s where things stand as of Wednesday, January 25.

Cardinals Coach Tracker

Candidate Permission? Interview Scheduled? Interview Complete?
Candidate Permission? Interview Scheduled? Interview Complete?
Vance Joseph N/A
Sean Payton
DeMeco Ryans X (PPD)
Brian Flores
Frank Reich N/A
Ejiro Evero
Aaron Glenn
New Candidates
Dan Quinn ✓✓ ✓✓
Jonathan Gannon X X

What updates are there on previously known candidates?

Last week, only Vance Joseph and Frank Reich had interviewed, and we had an interview scheduled with Aaron Glenn. We had permission to interview Sean Payton, DeMeco Ryans, Brian Flores, and Ejiro Evero. One week later, much has changed:

  • We completed an interview with Aaron Glenn.
  • We scheduled and completed an interview with Brian Flores.
  • We scheduled and completed an interview with Ejiro Evero
  • We scheduled an interview with DeMeco Ryans, but he postponed it to focus on the San Francisco 49ers ongoing playoff run.
  • We (finally) scheduled an interview with Sean Payton (reportedly today).

The next steps for these candidates are to reschedule that interview with Ryans, and schedule second interviews with the rest. Except for Vance Joseph, who Cardinals fans should want no part of any further. I’m not too sure Glenn and Evero are especially strong candidates, but the other four definitely are, so it will be interesting to see how the process unfolds for them, especially considering they are candidates for other openings.

What new candidates are on the list?

There are only two new names to add to the list: Cowboys DC Dan Quinn, and Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon. Quinn has now actually interviewed twice: one via Zoom last week and one in person on Wednesday. He’s a solid candidate. He has a strong defensive background, with 21 years of NFL coaching experience, including winning a Super Bowl as the Seahawks DC in 2013 and nearly winning another as the Falcons HC in 2016. Most recently, he’s had success as the Cowboys DC, including winning the 2021 AP NFL Assistant Coach of the Year. He’s rumored to be a strong candidate for several openings.

I’m less sold on Gannon. He’s been in the NFL coaching ranks since 2007, but mostly at the assistant level. He has three years under his belt as the Eagles DB coach, and has served as DC for the last two seasons. He’s obviously done great work, but he’s too green (pun not intended) for me. Plus since the Eagles are still alive in the playoffs, the Cardinals will have to wait to interview him. He’s a flashy young name, and I’m glad the Cardinals are doing their due diligence, but I don’t see him as a serious candidate at this point.

Will there be any names added to the list?

There hasn’t been any movement on any of the names I mentioned last week.

  • Jim Harbaugh will almost certainly return to the NFL eventually, just not this year.
  • Eric Bieniemy has interviewed with a couple teams, but it doesn’t sound like the Cardinals have even requested permission from the Chiefs.
  • The same goes for Eagles OC Shane Steichen.
  • The possibility of Titans DC Matt Bowen seems to have just been a product of the rumor mill given his connection to new GM Monti Ossenfort.

I don’t think any new candidates will be added to the list at this point. Vegas seems to agree, as Steichen has +1500 odds and Bieniemy is at +1800, along with a couple other total longshot names like Byron Leftwich (no thanks!) and Mike Kafka (too green). No one else is lower than +2000.

Final Thoughts

Last week, it looked to me like the three main candidates were Frank Reich (my favorite of the three), Brian Flores, and DeMeco Ryans. Since then, Ryans’s stock has fallen a bit while the stock of Sean Payton (maybe?) and, especially, Dan Quinn are on the rise. I’m still not sure if Payton is a realistic candidate given the cost to acquire his services and the competition with other teams, so maybe the top three are now Reich, Flores, and Quinn (with Payton still a possibility).

But there still seems to be a long way to go in this process. Kudos to Michael Bidwill and our new GM for not rushing into a decision.

Will we have a new coach by this time next week? Maybe, maybe not. In the meantime, vote in the poll below and tell us your thoughts in the comments.


Which candidate connected to the Cardinals so far do you hope gets the job?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Ejiro Evero
    (7 votes)
  • 19%
    Brian Flores
    (155 votes)
  • 0%
    Jonathan Gannon
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Aaron Glenn
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Vance Joseph
    (13 votes)
  • 33%
    Sean Payton
    (274 votes)
  • 24%
    Dan Quinn
    (196 votes)
  • 6%
    Frank Reich
    (56 votes)
  • 12%
    DeMeco Ryans
    (103 votes)
807 votes total Vote Now