For a long time the concept of a indoor practice bubble being installed at the Cards’ Tempe facility has been floating out there. It was something that first got traction when Ken Whisenhunt was first hired, although it hasn’t happened yet.
Yet may be the key phrase there. Team president Michael Bidwill said today, during an interview on “Doug and Wolf” on Arizona Sports 620, that the hope is that the Cardinals will finally get a bubble sometime this year.
“We’re going through a process now of getting a bubble in Tempe,” Bidwill said. “We had a political problem there, the former Mayor was opposed to it, but (new) Mayor (Mark) Mitchell, who is a great guy, is all for being supportive of this and hopefully we’ll get that done at the Tempe training facility this year. It’s an exciting time for us and it will really bring us back up to speed as far as being state of the art.”
Obviously, given the extreme heat early in the season, the chance to have an air conditioned practice facility would be a big benefit for the Cardinals — and make sure they don’t have to travel to ASU anymore (like last season, pictured below) to use a bubble if the weather called for it. Usually it stays pretty toasty during practice times all the way until late October, nearly halfway through the schedule.
Along those lines, Bidwill reiterated nothing has been decided on the spot of 2013 training camp, although discussions are ongoing with both NAU in Flagstaff and Glendale, location of University of Phoenix Stadium.
Tags: Michael Bidwill, practice bubble, training camp
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Team president Michael Bidwill is in New Orleans for the Super Bowl, and during a visit to Radio Row, touched on a subject a lot of people are wondering about: Where training camp will be held in 2013. It’s no secret the team’s contract with Flagstaff ran out after next year, and the team is currently exploring options.
Bidwill talked about some of the issues the Cardinals have had with NAU, with construction and being displaced and issues of various accommodations, and he said NAU plans to address those things. “That’s real good for them,” Bidwill told “Bickley and MJ” on XTRA 910, “because there are other competitors out there we are speaking with.”
One of those competitors is Glendale, where University of Phoenix Stadium resides. That could end up being the place the Cards go for camp, using the stadium and other possible new facilities to be built.
“They are (a viable option),” Bidwill said. “We are considering both (Flagstaff and Glendale), that’s for sure.”
As for what that might mean to the fans, Bidwill said fan access will still be important, regardless of where the Cards end up.
“The whole idea behind training camp is both a football activity where we are getting players ready for the season, but it is also a fan activity where we want to bring fans in,” Bidwill said. “There are many elements where it is great about doing it in Flagstaff, but there are also great possibilities of doing it at University of Phoenix Stadium. It could be a really a fantastic site. There are a little bit of tradeoffs, but there is no doubt (the camp experience) gets better and better each year and that is something we want to continue to focus on.”
– Bidwill had an interesting quote when talking about drafting a quarterback. He reiterated that the team needed to address the quarterback situation, but was going to leave those specifics up to GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians. But he talked about the things he had witnessed in the draft room over the years. “Every time we have reached, we have made a mistake. I don’t want to reach. You start reaching for a guy rather than going for best player available, you make mistakes.”
– As for free agency, he also is leaving that to Keim, but as for being tight against the salary cap, “I know we have some flexibility and there are things we can do around the cap to make room to get better,” Bidwill said.
Tags: draft, Michael Bidwill, salary cap, training camp, University of Phoenix stadium
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The dinner was at Tarbell’s on Camelback Road on Wednesday night, a prelude to a formal Thursday interview with potential head coach Bruce Arians. But Michael Bidwill felt that night — as the conversation turned, as much as they tried not to, to hardcore football.
“He’s a great teacher,” Bidwill said, “and he didn’t need a chalkboard to communicate what he wanted to do.”
That was the night Bidwill was convinced Arians was going to be the right pick to be the Cardinals’ next head coach. General manager Steve Keim wouldn’t go that far, but the vibe was good, he said, and that carried over to the next day’s talk — a long day that eventually ended up with Arians accepting the job in the early evening.
“It was very similar to when I decided what college I went to,” said Keim, the former offensive lineman from North Carolina State. “I remember having just the right feel.”
Bidwill said the Cardinals interviewed a total of “close to 10 candidates.” Not all were known publicly and at least one was on the college level, Bidwill added. Arians was a target from the start, Keim said. Why did it take so long to talk to him? Keim said there were others the Cards wanted to get to first — Andy Reid and Mike McCoy were named the day the Cards fired Ken Whisenhunt — and Arians was also in the playoffs with the Colts. Then Arians came down with the serious ear infection that not only kept him from the Indianapolis playoff game but for a couple of days after, and then Arians also committed to interviewing with the Bears (a job for which Arians was the runner-up to Marc Trestman.)
But Keim said he had been talking with Arians’ agent, Mike Brown, from the time Whisenhunt was relieved of his duties. “We knew at some point we’d have a chance to get in front of Bruce,” Keim said.
The exact details of how the coaching decision was made was, obviously, kept close to the vest by the power structure (Bidwill said director of player personnel Jason Licht and brother Tim Bidwill joined Keim and himself on the coaching interviews.)
“One thing through this process I have learned is the amount of misinformation,” Keim said. “You guys (in the media) have a tough job, because a lot of times, you’re chasing ghosts.
“We stayed the course. We had several guys we wanted to talk to, but once we talked to Bruce, we knew he was our guy.”
Tags: Bruce Arians, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim
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Bruce Arians had coached with Ray Horton in Pittsburgh. He called Horton a “dear friend” during his press conference Friday. But by then, it was also clear that the mass of reports leading up to the press conference that Horton would indeed be moving on from being Cardinals defensive coordinator. Arians deftly and succinctly handled the question of why he would want to do that — because the question everyone had was why move on from a coordinator who had had so much success?
It was, in the end, simple for Arians. It was about one direction in the locker room.
“I had talked with Michael (Bidwill) when I got here about that (Horton) situation and I didn’t feel like, at this point and time, that’s where I wanted to go,” Arians said. “We talked about it at length, and like I said, I’ve got all the respect in the world for Ray. We worked together in Pittsburgh. We were together with a Super Bowl team. He’s done a great job here. For my first time (as a head coach), this is the direction that I feel very strongly about.
“I wish him the best. Like I said, he’s going to be a head coach. It needed to be a football team that was directed by me. Anytime there’s carryover, we don’t want guys being able to go somewhere else to voice their opinion. I didn’t want to put Ray in that situation. That’s not fair to him. If a guy’s has got a gripe or a concern, come to me, and that’s just the way we’re going to do business.”
Horton didn’t last long on the market; Within an hour of the end of Arians’ press conference, the Browns — who interviewed Horton for their head coaching job but went with Rob Chudzinski instead — hired Horton as DC with a reportedly hefty four-year, $8 million contract. Arians’ new bosses, general manager Steve Keim and president Michael Bidwill, made clear they wanted to support their new coach.
“We talked it through and when you look at it, we have great confidence in what (Arians) has done, last year and through out his career,” Bidwill said. “Ray made some tremendous contributions to the Cardinals and we wish him well. We have tremendous talent on our defense and we expect our defense to continue to be very good.”
Said Keim, “Any time you hire a new head coach, you want to give him a chance to succeed. If he thinks his best opportunity is by making changes on his coaching staff, I think you have to support him.”
Arians didn’t name his new DC yet, but all signs point to Todd Bowles, who as of right now technically remains with the Eagles. Bowles played for Arians at Temple in the 1980s and later coached with Arians in Cleveland. Arians wouldn’t talk about Bowles as a potential Cardinals’ coach — yet — but it was clear Bowles makes sense as a candidate.
“He’s very dear to me, one of my captains at Temple, has a bunch of Super Bowl rings as a player, and is a good football coach,” Arians said.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Michael Bidwill, Ray Horton, Steve Keim, Todd Bowles
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The Cardinals, it seemed, wanted to get a second chance to talk to Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy about their open head coaching job. It certainly doesn’t look like they will get it, not after the news early Tuesday that McCoy is finalizing a deal to become the Chargers head coach and has told the Broncos he is leaving. (In an interesting twist, former Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt reportedly would be a candidate to replace McCoy as Broncos offensive coordinator, which if it comes to pass would mean Whiz got to team up with Peyton Manning after all.)
UPDATE: McCoy to Chargers is done.
With McCoy going elsewhere, that leaves defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. (I know I don’t have Todd Haley in here. Maybe I should but I just don’t see it. Could be totally wrong.) I am going on gut here only, but I’d think Horton would have a strong chance at this point. I have no idea who his assistants would be on the offensive side of the ball — I’m not sure anyone does, outside of Cards’ ownership and the front office — but I don’t think anyone would be hired without confidence in those choices. Again, president Michael Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim know how poorly the offense played and how it must be fixed. Bidwill insisted he wouldn’t make a choice based on offense/defense, but Gruden is an offensive guy.
Does this mean a decision will be made today? We will see. Anymore, it’s tough to forecast anything in a world of coaching searches that seem to change every few hours.
Tags: Broncos, Chargers, Jay Gruden, Ken Whisenhunt, Michael Bidwill, Mike McCoy, Peyton Manning, Ray Horton, Steve Keim, Todd Haley
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With Steve Keim in place as general manager, the Cardinals now need to find a head coach. That is ongoing, and there was some spark thrown into Wednesday morning with conflicting reports about the Cardinals and Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Some reported there was an interview happening, others said no. (Or absolutely no.) What we know is that the Cards have talked to Ray Horton and Mike McCoy and are going to talk to Jay Gruden Thursday. President Michael Bidwill said all those things Tuesday. The team has been pretty transparent with all their interviews once they are lined up. Then again, Haley might want this kept quiet (which doesn’t necessarily prevent leaks, not when it is fellow coaches apparently saying what is going on.)
The Cards, in the Haley case, are not commenting.
(UPDATE: Steelers president Art Rooney said Haley is interviewing. Feels like a solid source.)
Regardless, nothing has changed with the hiring time frame, which was that there was no time frame. Bidwill reiterated that notion. “The timetable is the timetable that gets us the right coach and the right decision for the team to move us forward,” team president Michael Bidwill said during Steve Keim’s introductory press conference Tuesday.
One final interesting note, which comes via Geoff Mosher from CSN Philadelphia, via tweets that make me think he too has been hit with many questions from concerned fans about no head coach yet hired, in his case with the Eagles.
“KC was first NFL team last year to hire HC, on Jan. 9. Chiefs went 2-14, fired Crennel. Colts hired Chuck Pagano on Jan. 25. Made playoffs”
Mosher makes the point of various successful coaches over the years and their hire dates: Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin Jan. 22 (’07); Baltimore’s John Harbaugh Jan. 19 (’08); Denver’s John Fox Jan. 13 (’11); Atlanta’s Mike Smith Jan. 24 (’08); and Seattle’s Pete Carroll Jan. 11 (’10). Again, I’m not trying to say every coach hired is the right one, or that waiting always is a benefit. But clearly, it’s not like taking time crushes chances for success. Of the seven teams that need new coaches, only two have hired new coaches, and that doesn’t include the possibility Jacksonville could change coaches now that they have a new GM.
– One final outlier here: After the Cowboys fired DC Rob Ryan Tuesday it became popular — driven by media speculation — that Horton could be a candidate to replace him. Horton was wooed by Jason Garrett to be on staff two years ago as Horton was coming to Arizona as DC. Here’s the problem: If the Cards don’t hire Horton has head coach, I’m pretty sure they want him to stay as defensive coordinator. Now, that can always change depending on who the head coach is, but with Horton still under contract for another season, he can’t go anywhere (except as a head coach) if the Cards don’t want him to. And I just don’t see the Cards allowing a lateral move, even if Horton did (of which I’m not sure either).
Tags: Art Rooney, Chiefs, Chuck Pagano, Colts, Cowboys, Eagles, John Fox, John Harbaugh, Michael Bidwill, Mike Smith, Mike Tomlin, Pete Carroll, Ray Horton, Steve Keim, Todd Haley
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When Steve Keim was 9 years old, he was already fascinated by watching games and figuring out which players were better — so much so that he told his mom he wanted to be an NFL general manager one day. She “sort of snickered,” Keim said Tuesday — the day he was named the Cardinals’ general manager.
“If you only worked on your math and science as hard as you did knowing these players, you may end up being successful,” his mother told him.
“I heeded my mother’s advice,” Keim said.
Now, I can’t speak to Keim’s ability in either, but the math would have come in handy all those years on the road as a scout (lot of expense reports to tally as well as numbers to crunch on potential draftees). As for science, well, there’s always a thought that finding and developing a quarterback is a science. Wait, that’s as much art as science, right? And some luck.
Anyway, many are asking what exactly has changed with Keim at the helm, since he was already here and already had a hand in decisions that were being made. Obviously there is a belief by Michael Bidwill that Keim can get the job done. And before, there were two people above Keim swaying choices — Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves. Like anyone, the freedom given once someone ascends to the top job can change — at least somewhat — how he makes a choice. I’m not saying it will change Keim, and I don’t know exactly how much power he had before. Bidwill made it clear Keim and the head coach will “have a collaborative relationship.” With a strong GM and a strong coach, “what they tend to do is they improve each other.”
— When it came to the draft, Keim was the one absorbing all the input from the scouts and coaches to give a player a final grade. But the decisions on who to pick was a group effort. Bidwill said that will stay the same. It doesn’t look like director of player personnel Jason Licht is going anywhere else. I’d expect him to remain Keim’s right-hand man, perhaps with a promotion at some point. I do expect the Cards to consider adding more bodies to the player personnel department too.
– It was interesting to hear that Keim believes in the Ron Wolf line of thinking in terms of gathering QBs. Once upon a time, Wolf, with the Packers, had Brett Favre and still collected Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck, Aaron Brooks and Ty Detmer. All were used as backups and/or trade bait. The Cards will take one solid prospect right now, but maybe they can get there, QB-wise.
– I do expect, with a new GM and new O-line coach — no matter who it is — to have a new approach to building that group, although Keim did say he thought some pieces were in place.
Tags: Jason Licht, Michael Bidwill, Steve Keim
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Team president Michael Bidwill sat down for an interview this week in between his various head coach and general manager talks to explain, among other things, what he is looking for in both positions. The full interview will be featured on the season’s final episode of “Flight Plan,” which will air Saturday night at midnight following “Saturday Night Live” on Ch. 12 (KPNX).
In terms of a general manager, “I want a strong football person,” Bidwill said. “Not necessarily the best cap guy or the best football operations guy. I want a strong football person. At the end of the day I want to make sure we have the best personnel department, the best scouting department, that we can have.”
Bidwill said he wants to add new positions to the personnel department under the general manager.
As for a coach, “it’s important I don’t get stuck in offense versus defense,” he said. Who the candidate is planning on bringing in for his staff is important to Bidwill in the process, as is — not surprisingly — the plan to develop quarterbacks.
P.S. One final thing. It’s Bidwill.
With an “i.”
Please make a note of it.
Tags: Michael Bidwill
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With the Andy Reid discussion officially over (and it was over last night), the Cardinals’ search for a coach remains with multiple candidates. The Mike McCoy interview will happen this weekend. We’re still waiting for word of a talk with Todd Haley (although Haley reportedly isn’t sure he’d want to leave Pittsburgh.) The Ray Horton talks are done, and I think there is still a chance for another candidate or two to emerge.
(After everything that happened with Reid, I’m not sure the Cards are going to be quite as transparent with announcing potential names at this point. Leaks are going to happen, though.)
I know I mentioned this before but the key phrase in Michael Bidwill’s Monday presser: “It’s not going to move at lightning speed. You don’t want it to, because you learn a lot during your due diligence period.” Bidwill wants to make sure he talks to all the candidates he wants to before making any decisions. That makes sense. This is a huge decision that will impact the next three or four seasons at least.
UPDATE: The interview with GM candidate Morocco Brown of the Redskins took place in Washington D.C. Friday. The McCoy interview comes Saturday in Denver.
– Interesting that Mike Sullivan, the Buccaneers offensive coordinator, reportedly had a good interview with the Bears for their head coaching job and that Bucs QB coach Ron Turner is leaving to coach in college, former Cardinals QB coach John McNulty may not only have a landing spot with friend and Bucs head coach Greg Schiano but could even end up right where he tried to go last year. McNulty, who coached with Schiano at Rutgers, was Schiano’s original choice as OC but the Cardinals wouldn’t release him from his contract to leave, seeking continuity on their staff. The Bucs turned to Sullivan. Now, you’d think McNulty will likely end up on the Tampa staff one way or the other.
Tags: Andy Reid, Buccaneers, John McNulty, Michael Bidwill, Mike McCoy, Ray Horton, Todd Haley
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The combination of a 5-11 record and change with both the general manager and head coach usually leads to one thing: Roster turnover. Of course, none of that happens until the new GM and head coach are in place, and that isn’t happening tomorrow.
(Reiterating from Michael Bidwill on Monday: “It’s not going to move at lightning speed. You don’t want it to, because you learn a lot during your due diligence period.” Remember that concept.)
In the meantime, there are things to speculate upon. With that, here is my annual overview of the roster and where players stand contract-wise heading into the offseason. Free agency begins at 2 p.m. Arizona time on March 12. Until then, the Cardinals have the ability to re-sign any of their own players set to hit the market. With the shift in giving all draft picks at least four-year contracts, the shrinking of the restricted free agent market continues; the only RFA the Cards have is linebacker Brandon Williams, who was so far off the radar after being waived-injured back after training camp that he didn’t appear on the roster.
There are some key decisions to make:
– In terms of unrestricted free agents, it seems probable that all of them would choose to at least reach the market. At this point, there is probably nothing to lose, and would want to see their market value. The Cardinals need to figure out whether they want to lock down these guys. Of the 13 unrestricted guys on the market, the most intriguing include safety Rashad Johnson (given the looming decision on Adrian Wilson), linebacker Quentin Groves, running back LaRod Stephens-Howling, linebacker Paris Lenon and cornerback Greg Toler. I would not be shocked, especially with roster change, to see any of them leave. Lenon’s age works against him. Johnson’s future may be tied to whomever is coach.
– Of the players under contract, money may dictate change. We’ve covered QB Kevin Kolb’s situation plenty, but that will have to be figured out. I think the Cardinals would like to extend safety Kerry Rhodes, who has one more season, but he’s also due a $4.5 million salary and a $1 million reporting bonus next year and that might be too pricey for the team. I’d think they’d want to extend Rhodes and restructure the deal. He may end up in a Wilson situation from camp. Speaking of Wilson, does the team bring him back for a 13th season? That too may depend on the new decision-makers. Wilson is due a roster bonus in March so we may know soon. Curious to know what the Cards do with running back Beanie Wells, if anything.
Lots of questions like that. Obviously I’ve barely touched on most of them. It’s difficult to get too much of a read on them until those making the choices are in place. I think there are going to be plenty of comings and goings, and it won’t just be relegated to the coaching and GM searches.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Beanie Wells, Brandon Williams, Greg Toler, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Michael Bidwill, Paris Lenon, Quentin Groves, Rashad Johnson
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