“Why can’t you just be normal?!?” *insert image of screaming child*
The Arizona Cardinals following a 4-win season and a month’s-plus long delay, finally have a head coach.
Once again, Arizona has been the last team to hire a head coach. However, it’s been a very different process from years past.
On one hand, it felt like a “same old Cardinals” type of coaching search with multiple options going elsewhere.
In 2013, Andy Reid left to go to Kansas City, and Mike McCoy was snatched up by the Chargers before the Cardinals could catch an interview. (All on the heels of Peyton Manning going to the Broncos)
This year we’ve also seen another “Payton” to the Broncos and Dan Quinn returning to the Cowboys...but there’s also been another change as far as to HOW Arizona’s conducted their coaching search.
And it centers around those differences that set up the search ending up with Gannon in the end being different from the process that brought Steve Wilks and Kliff Kingsbury into the Valley.
It involves a General Manager on the same page as his coach, and, as of now, autonomy for said coach to hire his own staff.
And also, letting the General Manager pick his own coach:
With the Cardinals and Colts taking their time, it became clear that both teams were targeting Super Bowl-bound coaches.
And both processes saw some interesting choices, with Arizona hiring a GM before speaking with Sean Payton only to pursue him and Indy tying Jeff Saturday to the job for what felt like the longest time.
In the end, both general managers’ influence ended up being the deciding factor.
And for the Cardinals, that’s gotta be a refreshing change of pace.
2018 was laden with rumors that there was a split in the front office over coaches, and part of that was evidenced by the eventual hire of Steve Wilks but also the hiring of Mike McCoy to be his offensive coordinator...not Wilks bringing in his own choice for OC.
In the year following, Kliff Kingsbury was like-wise hired and didn’t have the NFL connections so the Cardinals’ choice of Vance Joseph was, in part, a Steve Keim hire.
Not a head coaching hire.
It essentially was an unusual marriage and divorce followed by quick nuptials to another where the parents were the ones kinda behind the scenes doing a bit of the match-making. Not exactly a recipe for success, on paper.
(Joseph, also, might be freed now by Arizona to pursue other jobs versus seeing an owner force him onto a new incoming head coach as might have been the case with Mike Kafka or Lou Anarumo)
To the credit of the parties, Arizona was able to pivot and Kingsbury found enough success to gain a contract extension, but the gap proved to be too much. LIke jamming puzzle pieces together and desiring a fit that (in the end) wasn’t quite there.
I don’t know how the hires of Monti Ossenfort and Jonathan Gannon will turn out.
I think the staff and added personnel/drafts will be important for both.
But at the end of the day, it’s at least a bit refreshing to see following the departure of Steve Keim that there’s not been any “funny” business.
Instead, just a search, a hire with a man in mind with influence from the GM and an Owner signing off with said coach bringing in their own staff.
That’s how it usually goes in the NFL. That’s how it hasn’t gone for the Cardinals for a number of years now.
And while criticism, valid or not, is present, it’s nice to see that Arizona didn’t just signal change only to go on making the same sort of meddling moves or interfering with their coach like the 2019 season showed; they actually acted on it.
Here’s hoping that it leads to a revitalized organization that is able to finally graduate into the ranks of the majority of the NFL versus being an outlier that’s avoided by top candidates in the years to come.