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Flores Took the Bird in Hand

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Minicamp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Many fans thought Brian Flores, in his search for his next coaching gig, would be inclined to hook up with a former Patriot, like Monti Ossenfort. Flores did just that. Yet, he didn’t have a job offer as yet from Ossenfort, but he had one from Vikings’ head coach Kevin O’Connell, Flores’ former coaching colleague in New England. Flores took the bird in hand.

As the old saying goes, “Time and tide wait for no man.”

When someone is playing things coy with you, you don’t know whether you are being teased or taken seriously.

What Cardinals’ owner Michael Bidwill does not seem to understand is how frustrating it is to have to wait around after a job interview to find out if the interview went well.

Lou Anarumo and Mike Kafka, the Cardinals’ two remaining finalists have not had to wait nearly as long as Brian Flores did to learn that they performed well enough in their first interviews to emerge as finalists.

But, if the Cardinals decide to interview more candidates after this week, it would not be surprising to see Anarumo and/or Kafka decide to bail on the Cardinals and stick with their current jobs.

It has stuck in my craw since Black Monday when Michael Bidwill fired the “hardest working coach I have ever seen” how Bidwill said he had already interviewed Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris for the full-time GM job, but was going to cast his net far and wide to interview other GM candidates.

The writing was on the wall right hen and there, wasn’t it?

When hearing this, my first reaction was, if you are Wilson or Harris, you must be thinkng, “well, looks like I didn’t knock that interview out of the park.” Plus, “I guess all my years of dedicated work in this organization are not enough for this owner.”

At this point one has to wonder whether Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris, once touted as promising, up-and-coming GM prospects, will ever get a whiff of another GM job, seeing how they were summarily bypassed by Michael Bidwill —- not only snubbed for the GM job (Monti Ossenfort - after Ian Cunningham declined)), but for the assistant GM job (Dave Sears).

Of course, the terrible irony for Wilson and Harris is that Michael Bidwill is one of the five NFL owners who serves on the league’s Equal Opportunity/Diversity committee.

The only Black employee on the staff at the Cardinals facility whom Bidwill is favoring these days appears to be Vance Joseph.

Bidwill’s allegiance to Vance Joseph appears to be one of the main reasons why head coaching candidates, especially the experienced ones like Dan Quinn, Sean Payton and Brian Flores have scattered in different directions.

The national and local media have been reporting that Michael Bidwill appears to be doing everything he can to retain Vance Joseph as the team’s DC. Those close to the situation whom I have have consulted are indicating the same thing.

The main reason why Vance Joseph is still in the building is Budda Baker, who has been crying out for the Cardinals to hold on to his DC, no matter what it takes. As we saw on HBO’s Hard Knocks, Vance likes to start some of his team defense meetings with a clip of Budda Baker making a big-time splash play. With good reason.

But, there is a reason why Budda Baker was the team’s lone Pro Bowler. Other players have not been flourishing in Vance’s defense the way Budda has. Other players have not had the kind of rapport with Vance that Budda has.

Other players often seem confused as to what they are being asked to do, particularly in Vance’s infamous “soft zones” that are the epitome of “prevent defense” —- but, alas, typically what these soft zones have prevented is the Cardinals from winning close 4th quarter games —- as clearly evidenced down the stretch this year when the Cardinals’ offense, behind 4 different QBs, managed to take 4th quarter leads —- only one of which resulted in a win because, on that day in LA, Colt McCoy helped to stick 31 points on the Rams. On all other occasions, the Cardinals’ defense surrendered the lead right back. How many episodes of the game footage on Hard Knocks ended with Vance Jospeh throwing his arms up in disgust?

Let’s take a minute to gauge Vance Joseph’s four years of work versus Kliff Kingsbury’s —-

Kliff’s Offense —— Vance’s Defense

  • 2019 YPG: 21st; PPG: 16th; QBR: 18th —- 2019 YPG: 32nd; PPG: 28th; QBR: 32nd
  • 2020: YPG: 6th; PPG: 13th; QBR: 15th —- 2019 YPG: 13th; PPG: 12th; QBR: 15th
  • 2021: YPG: 8th; PPG: 11th; QBR: 8th —- 2019 YPG: 11th; PPG:10th; QBR: 19th
  • 2022: YPG: 22nd; PPG: 21st; QBR: 28th —- 2019 YPG: 21st; PPG: 31st; QBR: 31st

When looking at these rankings, which coach should have been the first to be fired? Which coach showed more upside?

For those arguing that Vance Joseph’s defense was the “bright spot” on the team, these NFL rankings would refute that notion.

For those arguing that Kliff was given more talent to work with which is why Vance claimed he was coaching “a JV squad” —- here are some of the notable players whom Vance was unable to get good seasons out o based on their talent level: Patrick Peterson (twice), Terrell Suggs, D.J. Swearinger, Jordan Phillips, Chandler Jones (in 2020 and 2021), De’Vondre Campbell, Dre Kirkpatrick, Rasul Douglas, Jordan Hicks, Devon Kennard, Nick Vigil, Haason Reddick* (when he was finally used on the edge after Devon Kennard was injured, he thrived, but Vance didn’t fight to re-sign him and the defense hasn’t had prototypical 3-4 OLB since).

Let’s remind ourselves, Vance Joseph felt that Devon Kennard was a better starter at 34 OLB than Haason Reddick. Let’s also remind ourselves that Vance Jospeh felt like Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins were best off standing on the sidelines for the Cardinals playoff game versus the Rams. or can we ever forget Vance feeling like it was a good idea to blitz Patrick Mahomes 55% of the time.

Plus, look at the draft capital the Cardinals gave to the defense: CB Byron Murphy, DE Zach Allen, S Jalen Thompson, DE Michael Dogbe, LB Isaiah Simmons, DT Rashard Lawrence, DT Leki Fotu, LB Zaven Collins, CB Marco Williams, DE Victor Dimukeje, CB Tay Gowan, S James Wiggins, DE Cam Thomas, DE Myjai Sanders, CB Christian Matthew; LB Jesse Luketa.

How content are you with how Vance Joseph has treated and developed these draft picks?

When Monti Ossenfort was asked whether the new head coach had to be a good fit for Kyler Murray, what did he say? He said the new coach had to be a good fit for “all the players.”

Why then shouldn’t this apply to Budda Baker wanting so badly for the Cardinals to hold on Vance Jospeh as DC? Vance Jospeh is great for Budda, but is he great for “all the players”?

The evidence that was presented above tells is that Vance Joseph has not been great for all of the players, nor for a majority of the players.

Kafka’s Candidacy

How many oof you feel like you could be a lot more excited about Mike Kafka as head coach if he’s not paired with Vance Jospeh as DC, the way Kliff was?

How many of you got excited when you saw and listened to Patrick Mahomes’ letter of recommendation for Mike Kafka?

Man, I got excited thinking that Mike Kafka could bring back the romance of play action bootlegs and waggles. I even thought of tweeting over to Wolf how the Cardinals may finally bring back a fullback into offense, which they haven’t had since they absurdly traded (10 years ago) Pro Bowl FB and ST ace Anthony Sherman for a CB (Javier Arenas) who never panned out.

But, if Vance Joseph is kept on as DC, how is the situation going to be any different for Mike Kafka and the team than it was for Kliff Kingsbury?

When you hear the pundits say, “yeah, Vance can be a great mentor to Mike Kafka,” what do you thinkl? How did that work out for Kliff? Right?

This time around Vance Joseph may feel even more indignant about being passed over for the HC job for a candidate who has only 5 years of NFL coaching experience. Do you think Vance would fight harder to win for Kafka than he did for Kliff?

In matters like this, one has to understand human nature and how it works for subordinates who think they are better, more qualified, more deserving candidates than their bosses,

Sean Payton fully understands the human nature element in this, which is why he was fine with DC Ejiro Evero moving on. Evero interviewed for the Broncos’ HC job and had the overwhelming support of the Broncos’ players, not just from All Pro safety Justin Simmons.

That’s not a healthy scenario for a new head coach. Nor is it an ideal scenario for a coach who has been turned down for the HC job.

Flores Takes Bird in Hand

Whether Flores was taking the bird in hand or giving the bird in hand to the Cardinals, the elephant in the room that we discussed at length yesterday, has swiftly left the premises.

Yesterday my great friend Laguna Pat wrote:

Walt, the reality in life is that color matters. It shouldn’t but it does. Hopefully one day it does not. Congrats for not shying away from it.

My only fear with any of these gentlemen is that MB forces them to keep VJ as DC. That will spoil all the hope we have been garnering since SK was let go.

I am fine with and will support whomever the HC is as long as they have the freedom to assemble their own staff and closely coordinate with Ossie on the draft , free agency and the current players in the roster. Our luck has to change at some point, doesn’t it?

To which I wrote:

Thanks, Pat. I too am hoping big-time that the new HC gets to hire his own staff. The new HC shouldn’t have to be hindered by the owner’s past mistakes.

I had already convinced myself that the Cardinals were not going to hire Brian Flores. In the interim, I have become so fascinated with Lou Anamuro. There’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind it if Flores took the Broncos’ DC job so that the Cardinals can hire Anamuro. But, both Flores and Anamuro are masterful game planners and in-game adjusters.

Lou Anarumo Touches All the Bases

As long as Lou Anarumo is coordinating and calling the defense, it’s moot whether Vance Joseph is kept on board, The Cardinals are going to have to pay his salary this year, that is, if he doesn’t take another job.

We’ve been hearing that the OC Lou Anamuro has in mind is the Bengals’ QB coach, Dan Pitcher.

Like Lou Anarumo (Staten island), Dan Pitcher is a native New Yorker (Cortland). Pitcher starred as a QB at Colgate University for three years and then for one season in his hometown for SUNY Cortland State. That year at Cortland State he was a finalist for the Gagliani Trophy, which is Division III’s version of the Heisman. At 6-0, Dan Pitcher might know a little something about how shorter QBs can create clear passing lanes and use their lack of height to their advantage.

Pitcher has been with the Bengals for 7 years and has been the QB coach for the past three.

Right now, Dan Pitcher has a second interview scheduled with the Bucs for their OC job. The Bengals recently gave Pitcher a contract extension with a handsome raise. They are grooming him to succeed Brian Callahan, should Callahan get a HC gig.

But, Pitcher is heading down to Tampa to meet with the Bucs in person, because, as Brian Callahan well knows, becoming another team’s OC is the only way he is going to call plays in a game. This is because HC Zac Taylor makes the calls for the Bengals.

Thus, it would appear that Dan Pitcher would hop on the chance to take an offensive coordinator job this year and, if the Cardinals want him as part of an Anarumo/Pitcher package, they had better act quickly.

If only...

As a great buddy of mine always says to waitresses who are frequently late bringing drinks and food, “Honey, I have summer in my hair, I have winter in my teeth, but if you don’t get some spring in your ass, we’ll be here to the fuc^ing fall.”

Or like Al Czervik to Judge Smails: