Did Coach play?

Posted by Darren Urban on February 22, 2011 – 11:37 am

It was a topic that was mentioned more than once when the Cardinals had hired Ray Horton – who played in the NFL for a decade – as their defensive coordinator. The idea that players might have a deeper respect for someone who had been them.

Horton summed it up pretty well, I think, with this line: “It gives you some credibility that you have sat in the same chairs they’re in,” he said. “It helps until they say, ‘Why’d you call that?!?’ ”

And ultimately, that seems to be the general feeling.

“I have seen some very good coaches that didn’t play,” said head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who of course played near a decade himself in the NFL. “So I don’t know if it has an impact if you can’t coach. Players are smart enough, if you’re not getting it done on the field as a coach, they’ll recognize it pretty quick. If you have been a player, obviously you get a little bit of respect, because they know you’ve been through some of the same battles they have.

“But if you’re not a very good coach, it doesn’t matter what you say or what your background is, guys are going to tune you out pretty quick. They are interested in winning and getting better. If you can help them do that, they’ll listen to you.”

Of the current staff, Whisenhunt, Horton, assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm, quarterbacks coach Chris Miller and assistant defensive backs coach Deshea Townsend played in the league. The majority did not.

“Once you get into (practices and meetings) you don’t think about it,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “But if they played your position, it’s better because they understand you and the thoughts you have.”

The defensive backs may have the most interesting combo given the three latest hires. Horton played, but has been out of the game for 17 seasons. New defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi didn’t play (and in fact was on his first NFL coaching staff at age 19 as a Jets assistant). Meanwhile, Townsend not only played, but he was just playing as recently as November and will be learning the coaching ropes on the fly.

“I think the main thing a player wants is consistency,” Townsend said. “That’s what I wanted, to (have a coach) say one thing in July and to say the same thing in February. You don’t want a guy saying something and changing his mind. And be fair.

“You’re going to have to make decisions, but everyone in the room has to be accountable. I loved to have a coach who, when he made a mistake, he said it and when I made a mistake, he let me know. We have to grow that and teach them what we are looking for, but to be true professionals, those guys have to understand that’s the business of football.”

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27 Responses to “Did Coach play?”

  1. By harlanlee on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    At first glance, the chemistry on the Cards coaching staff looks pretty good. With all the staff and players with Pittsburgh connections, we might hope that Coach Whiz can emulate Chuck Tanner, the successful Pirates baseball manager who passed away in recent days. The theme for Tanner’s World Series Pirates was this: We Are Family. And it worked. Hopefully, Whiz and The Cardinal Family will come together and successfully bond, with enough cohesiveness to carry them deep into the playoffs. Good luck, Coach!

  2. By AndyStandsUp on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Seems to me, the past SB had two head coaches who never played a down in the NFL. In fact, 19 of the past 27 SB winning head coaches had no prior playing experience.
    While being a former player may carry “street cred” in the beginning, if the team starts losing, the player’s hearing may as well.

  3. By brad oneill on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    i think it is fairly obvious that the cardinals have recognized a problem in the Secondary. When a team brings in 3 coaches that are all centered around one position the under performing player in that position better get good quick.

  4. By jocards on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    harlanlee – The thing to remember about the Pirates “We Are Family” championship team, they had a lot of talent to go along with the cohesiveness. Our Cardinals have some talent but a lot of glaring weaknesses. But I would agree with the premise that in the NFL if you are going to model your operation on any other organization the Steelers are an excellent choice. Pittsburgh is very adept from top to bottom, they draft extremely well and have a knack for bringing in guys that will thrive in their system. Let’s hope that some of that Steeler magic comes to the desert along with our new coaches with Steeler ties.

  5. By omesh on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply


  6. By David Parra ESQ. on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    As a fan of The Arizona Cardinals I’m excited about next season already. The reason being is that the team cannot be worse than it was last season. Lets hope Coach Horton, and the rest of the secondary coaches can light a fire under all the DB’s a$$!$. Getting DRC to be the shut down corner we all know he can be is key. I believe this will also pay dividends in the development of Greg Toler. 2011 can’t come any quicker. Darren quick question….Do you have any idea who the coaching staff or front office are high on for the #5 pick?

  7. By Darren Urban on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    David Parra —

    RE: Fifth pick

    Too early to have a “favorite.”

  8. By MikeG on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Good job referencing the death of Ollie Matson the other day. Ashame about his death–he was one of the great backs of his time and certainly underrated. Speaking of running backs–Do you think Beanie will be a much bigger focus this upcoming year??? I think he has to be.Also– What do think was the biggest positive and negative of the 2010 Cardinals??????

  9. By Darren Urban on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    MikeG —

    RE: Beanie

    I think Beanie’s PT will depend on Beanie.

  10. By Jon L. on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Darren,
    I know this is a little off topic but do you think the cards will pursue Jeremy Shockey? I know that he didn’t have a great year and he has injury and age concerns but I believe he would be an upgrade over what we have now.

  11. By Darren Urban on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Jon L —

    RE: Shockey

    Maybe he’d be an upgrade but I don’t see them looking at him until after a new CBA is finalized. And it’s never good when you start saying, “he didn’t have a great year and he has injury and age concerns” …

  12. By Phoenixraven1 on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Ya but Shockey would look good in red! Lol! Maybe teach Dray a few tricks or our future TE!

  13. By Lional on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Darren,

    Shockey got released… what are the chances the Cards pick him up?

  14. By AndyStandsUp on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    With the combine starting tomorrow, did I hear right on an podcast that Graves and Whisenhunt don’t look at testing intangibles as much as game film?
    And how would that bode for a player that doesn’t have much footage, as say, Kim (Al Davis choice) Newton vs. Blaine Gabbert?

  15. By Darren Urban on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: Interview

    I assume you mean the interview they did on KTAR that we posted. I admit, I have not yet heard it. However, I think it’s all relative — but the less actual game experience you have tends to make a difference.

  16. By jocards on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Unfortunately no CBA, no new signings…..I am starting to become pessimistic that this will get done sooner rather than later. My opinion only…

  17. By brad oneill on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Shockey has a history of getting a little disgruntled, i would guess he was probably unhappy with his role as a blocker and not getting quiet enough balls thrown his way in new orleans. In az he would probably be in a similar situation. although he may respond to a coach that used to be a tight end and feel his voice is heard in az we would have to find a way to get him the ball or he might just pack it in.

  18. By Code on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    The Cardinals secondary is pretty solid. Kerry Rhodes, DRC, Greg Toler, are all solid players. Maybe we could use the upgrade at CB in place of Toler but I think he can be very good. The issue seems to be in bringing out the best in these players. DRC is an absolute stud, as is Rhodes, and I think Toler can be too — it’s just a matter of executing. I am really confident with Ray Horton as our DC. He seems very humble yet confident and above all: ready to get to work.

    He talked a lot about making the Cardinals realize things — bringing out the positives in the team — which I think will do wonders. I would love to pursue Jeremy Shockey but injuries have been a problem for him.

    Darren: has there been any talk surrounding the Cardinals organization about where they may be headed in the draft? I would say QB, LB, DE, and possibly CB are our major needs — as well as OL — but I think the age old question is: QB or in the first round or not? I know you probably don’t know right now but if you could make a realistic guess — what would it be?

  19. By Darren Urban on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Code —

    RE: Draft

    Again, there is no guess to make right now because they don’t know. All things being equal, I’d think they take a QB, but there is a good chance all things won’t be equal.

  20. By Steve on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Darren: Will Missouri QB Blaine Gabberts decision to not throw at the combine hurt his chances of getting drafted by the Cardinals if they plan on scouting him as a possible 1st round choice? Appreciate your hard work, thanks.

  21. By Darren Urban on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Steve —

    RE: Gabbert

    In the end, if they felt strongly enough about Gabbert to take that high, not throwing at the combine won’t hurt.

  22. By georgiebird on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Guys in the NFL have a combination of physical talent, mental toughness and smarts. Guys who are limited in physical ability have to be more mentally tough and smarter than the next guy to survive.
    A guy like Sean Morey would probably make a tremendous coach. Sometimes you have a guy like Larry who has the whole package.
    In baseball the best hitting coaches are guys that were pretty bad hitters like Charley Lau and Rudy Jaramillo.
    As a general rule, it would seem the greater one’s natural ability the less chance he will make an outstanding coach.

  23. By John on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    You should put a John Skelton video up.

  24. By Matt H on Feb 22, 2011 | Reply

    Darren I don’t comment often but thanks for the updates. And take a vacation, c’mon, it’s not like anything that happens right now means anything

  25. By BostonJohn on Feb 23, 2011 | Reply

    Different topic :

    Do you think the Cards will put Warner in the Ring Of Honor? If so, I would like to see them do it before the Rams do…..

  26. By Darren Urban on Feb 23, 2011 | Reply

    BostonJohn —

    RE: Warner ring of honor

    I could see that happening some day. When, I’m not sure.

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