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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Before I power down for the evening — the Arians news continues again tomorrow with the 1 p.m. press conference, with some behind-the-scenes stuff on azcardinals.com too — a few thoughts on the newest Cardinals’ head coach.
It feels like a good move for the Cardinals. This is a guy who many thought would be a hot candidate for a head coaching job and who was close to getting the Bears job. He’s about a vertical passing game — one of the reasons he reportedly lost his offensive coordinator job in Pittsburgh was because he passed too much. I do think, with Steve Keim as general manager, the offensive line and run game will be made a priority. That part of the offense has to get better. It has to get better in general, and it has to get better to ease the pressure on a passing offense that — at this point — can’t shoulder such a burden.
I’d think Larry Fitzgerald is a big winner here, assuming that consistent quarterback play can be found. I really have no doubt that the bottoming out of the quarterback position won’t be repeated. Will the franchise quarterback be found this season? No way to know, but given the draft class, it might not be possible. But I do think the offense will get better. But the proof will be on the field in September, October, etc.
As for the defense, there’s a lot to settle. There are a lot of reports about defensive coordinator Ray Horton, about him being upset he didn’t get the head coaching job, about him wanting out, about the Cards replacing him. Here’s all that I know as I type this: He’s still under contract, he’s still employed by the Cards. (And the reported replacement, Todd Bowles, is still under contract for the Eagles.) Could there be a change? There is always that possibility when a head coaching change happens. Anyone assuming that something was set in stone — how many times in the last three weeks has something been put out there, nationally, and have it turn out to be untrue? — is wrong because these are all fluid situations.
Losing Horton doesn’t sound appealing. I get that. I do know this, that for those who suggested on Twitter that there would be a player revolt, I don’t see it. Some players might not be happy. Others might embrace a change. But players know coaches come and go. That’s the business.
We’ll see how the staff shapes up. If Horton isn’t coming back, the other defensive coaches may be moving on too. I’d think special teams coach Kevin Spencer could be OK, since he coached with Arians in Pittsburgh. Strength coach John Lott could be OK. It was a little strange when tight end coach Freddie Kitchens was the lone offensive coach retained, but look at this — Arians was the offensive coordinator for the University of Alabama in 1997, the same year Kitchens, then a senior, was quarterbacking the Crimson Tide. So there is a tie there.
There will be much more tomorrow. So I’m going to get some sleep now.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Freddie Kitchens, Kevin Spencer, Larry Fitzgerald, Ray Horton, Steve Keim, Todd Bowles
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Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is interviewing with the Cardinals today, and as has been custom to candidates who have come to Tempe, he met with the media this afternoon. He’s wanted to become a head coach for a long time and admitted he isn’t sure why he hasn’t garnered more interest before now, but he’s taking advantage of his visits. The Bears, during Marc Trestman’s press conference today, acknowledged Arians was the runner-up for that job. The Cards are the lone job left open, and Arians is the latest candidate — following Ray Horton, Jay Gruden, Todd Haley, and Darrell Bevell of the known guys left available.
He just went through an emotional season with the Colts, making the playoffs and serving as interim head coach as Chuck Pagano went through leukemia treatments. He admitted it wouldn’t be easy to leave Indianapolis. “I told my agent early, when he was setting up interviews, ‘I’m going to have to have a heck of a feeling about that organization, owner, general manager, team, to leave where I am right now,’ ” Arians said.
So someone asked the obvious: Does he have that feeling in Arizona?
“Yes I do,” he said.
— Arians said he couldn’t really comment on what would happen with defensive coordinator Ray Horton or any assistant still under contract if he got the job. “It’s too early in the process,” he said.
— He said he would hire an offensive coordinator if he were head coach. But he said he would call the plays himself until he found someone who could do it better. Not a surprise. That’s what Ken Whisenhunt did when he first arrived in Arizona. He said, doing it with the Colts, “it’s easy. There are plenty of hours in the day.”
— A team is always looking for a good quarterback. You try and find that. But until you do, Arians said you have to coach up the players in front of you and “make them better.”
— He’s had to learn how to delegate, when serving as interim HC for the Colts.
Being a head coach, “it’s not as hard as it’s supposed to be.”
We’ll see if that means he will get a chance in Arizona. I don’t know who is the favorite, so please don’t ask. Nor do I know when this is going to be resolved. Obviously, with Jacksonville hiring Gus Bradley Thursday morning, the Cards have the only remaining head coaching vacancy. I have a full Arians story on the homepage.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Colts, Darell Bevell, Jay Gruden, Ray Horton, Todd Haley
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The shocking news Wednesday that Oregon coach Chip Kelly — who had long been thought of as the Eagles’ top choice for head coach but who seemingly made it clear he wasn’t leaving Oregon last week — was indeed going to be Philly’s new coach means there are two open head coaching spots left. Jacksonville and Arizona. (The Bears officially hired one-time Cardinals offensive coordinator Marc Trestman earlier in the morning.)
Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is interviewing with the Cards today. The Cards are reportedly trying to get permission/set up an interview with Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. The other known candidates are Ray Horton, Todd Haley and Jay Gruden, and that doesn’t preclude that there might have been unknown candidates at some point.
The Jaguars’ known list is Jay Gruden, Bevell, in-house defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, Seahawks DC Gus Bradley and Rams OC Brian Schottenheimer. They are also expected to wait for and talk to 49ers OC Greg Roman — untouchable until San Francisco’s season is over — who is close with new general manager Dave Caldwell.
In the meantime, we wait.
— Ken Whisenhunt missed out again. Just when it looked like he again was making a push to be a head coach — this time with the Eagles — the Kelly bombshell dropped. Whiz was apparently in the mix in Buffalo, Cleveland and Philly (he also talked with the Chargers) but instead, it seems likely that if he coaches this year, it will be as an assistant. The idea that he could end up in Denver as offensive coordinator with Peyton Manning seems to be gaining steam. He’s not going to be on Jacksonville’s HC list.
Tags: Bears, Brian Schottenheimer, Bruce Arians, Chip Kelly, Darrell Bevell, Eagles, Greg Roman, Gus Bradley, Jaguars, Jay Gruden, Ken Whisenhunt, Marc Trestman, Mel Tucker, Ray Horton, Todd Haley
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On a day when Mike McCoy chose to take the San Diego job, the Cardinals added a new name to their list of candidates. Multiple reports have the Cards hoping to interview Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Bevell not only worked with Russell Wilson this year but was a long-time coordinator/QB coach with Green Bay and Minnesota while Brett Favre was playing in those cities. He also happens to be a local product, having gone to Scottsdale Chaparral High School, playing QB there for his father and coach, Jim Bevell.
Bevell is a finalist for the Bears job and the Jaguars also want to include him on their search. Kent Somers reported the interview is scheduled for Wednesday. There hasn’t been any official word from the Cards yet.
Besides Bevell, Steelers OC Todd Haley, Bengals OC Jay Gruden and Cards DC Ray Horton are the known available candidates for the Cards.
UPDATE: And during the night, it came out that the Cards had requested permission to talk to Colts OC Bruce Arians too.
Tags: Bears, Bruce Arians, Darrell Bevell, Jaguars, Jay Gruden, Ray Horton, Russell Wilson, Todd Haley
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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 the Broncos losing (an admittedly amazing entertaining playoff game) Saturday night to Baltimore, it means their season is over and it means offensive coordinator Mike McCoy is now available to negotiate for a head coaching deal. It also would seem like the Cardinals would be in position to figure out their head coaching situation sometime this coming week.
Now, I’m not saying the Cards want McCoy for sure. But none of their candidates — at least, the ones we know of — are impeded from talking contract now. Cards defensive coordinator Ray Horton, McCoy and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden (and Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley?) are all fully available. There’s been a lot of talk the Cards want McCoy, but that’s assumption rather than anything based on fact. Last week was filled with interviews anyway, so nothing was coming down last week regardless of McCoy’s situation.
We’ll see how it plays out. McCoy has interviewed with the Eagles and Bears already as well as the Cards. All of them were in Denver, so I’d expect a second interview with anybody to come in that city. Gruden has upcoming interviews with the Eagles and Jaguars. There is a report the Jags would like to talk to McCoy. Horton also interviewed with the Bills and Browns, although both spots have already been filled.
Will the Cards have a coach this week? Perhaps. President Michael Bidwill has maintained the whole process he had no set timeline in place and I don’t think there is a rush to get this done. But again, if all the candidates can be hired, it makes sense this moves forward in the coming days.
Tags: Bears, Broncos, Eagles, Jaguars, Jay Gruden, Mike McCoy, Ray Horton, Todd Haley
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If you put your head down for a moment and just listened, you can definitely hear the Jon Gruden in Jay Gruden’s voice. That’s natural since they are brothers, but kind of funny since everyone is so familiar with Jon’s voice because of “Monday Night Football.”
(The similar-voice-with-brothers can be fun, though. My brother and I have gotten my Mom and my wife on it a couple of times over the phone.)
Jon also helped Jay a bit with his first-ever coaching interview Thursday. “Jon’s always got his two cents to add,” Jay Gruden said. “He can talk with the best of them. He’s been around the block a few times.”
Whether Jay Gruden actually will make a push to be head coach is anyone’s guess. The Cards have played this pretty close to the vest, even as they announce who they are talking to. It’s an impressive walk of the tightrope. Next week will be interesting, depending on how the Broncos — and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy — do. If they lose, something would go down next week you’d figure. Barring more interviews, you’d think the process would move forward with all candidates available. If they win, something could still happen next week, just not with McCoy, who is off-limits until his team is out.
But there is no puff of white smoke yet from 8701 S. Hardy.
You know, if the building had a chimney.
— XTRA’s Mike Jurecki is reporting that Ray Horton has reached out to Norv Turner to gauge interest in Turner taking the offensive coordinator job if Horton were to get the head coaching job. Not that Turner has said yes, but it’s interesting if true. I mentioned that possibility last week.
— I have seen the report that former Eagles offensive line coach (and DC, but in this case, it’d probably be line related) Juan Castillo would interview with the Cards. That has not been confirmed. I would think a head coach would be in place before more assistants would be hired, but Castillo’s reputation as a line coach is a good one.
— The Browns reportedly brought Ken Whisenhunt in for a second interview for their head coaching job. Horton was interviewed by the Browns (but just once thus far). The Browns have a lot of candidates they have talked to thus far. It doesn’t seem like Horton — who also interviewed for the now-filled Bills job — is in the mix.
UPDATE: It turns out the Browns hired Panthers OC Rob Chudzinski as head coach. And other reports have Chudzinski pursuing/hiring Norv Turner as OC, which if it happened would obviously mean Horton couldn’t get him.
Tags: Browns, Jay Gruden, Jon Gruden, Juan Castillo, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike McCoy, Norv Turner, Ray Horton
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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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The Cardinals confirmed Sunday they plan to interview Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden this week for their vacant head coaching position. Gruden had success grooming second-round 2011 pick Andy Dalton at quarterback, as the Bengals made the playoffs in each of Dalton’s first two seasons. The Bengals’ offense did struggle Saturday in its playoff loss at Houston, although the Texans do have a tough defense.
(Again, no confusion here: This is Jay Gruden, not ESPN announcer/former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden, who is, in fact, Jay’s brother.)
Gruden becomes the fourth known candidate (fifth total, although Andy Reid never interviewed). Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was Saturday’s interview. Todd Haley still is on the radar, although no known interview has been set up as yet. And there is Ray Horton.
McCoy did spend Sunday with lengthy interviews with the Eagles and Bears. Reportedly, the Eagles want to talk to Gruden. Horton remains a candidate with the Browns, who reportedly have moved on from trying to get Oregon coach Chip Kelly.
The Cards are still looking for a general manager. They have already interviewed in-house candidate Steve Keim and the Redskins’ Morocco Brown. I’d think that decision would come sooner rather than later. We will see.
For perspective on the coach search, let’s look at the last time the Cards hired a coach. Denny Green was fired Jan. 1, 2007. Ken Whisenhunt was hired Jan. 13.
Tags: Bears, Browns, Eagles, Jay Gruden, Jon Gruden, Mike McCoy, Morocco Brown, Ray Horton, Steve Keim, Todd Haley
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