Bowles scheduled to interview for two jobs

Posted by Darren Urban on January 2, 2014 – 7:53 pm

So far, Todd Bowles is scheduled to interview for a pair of head coaching jobs: With the Browns Friday and then with the Minnesota Vikings sometime next week. Does that mean Bowles is leaving as Cardinals’ defensive coordinator? Of course not. Last year at this time, DC Ray Horton was set up for three head coaching interviews — Cleveland, Buffalo and Arizona — and as we all know, Horton was still the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator when Bruce Arians decided to let him leave so he could be the DC in Cleveland and Arians could hire Bowles.

We’ll see how this turns out. Bowles fulfills the minority requirement of the Rooney Rule. Not that he isn’t a legitimate candidate, but that’s a possibility too. The Houston job (Bill O’Brien) and Tampa job (Lovie Smith) are now filled, so the only openings left are Detroit, Cleveland, Minnesota and Washington. It’s also hard to get a sense about what candidates are in play since many of the playoff teams will have assistants up for jobs when their seasons end.

(On a side note, so Horton doesn’t get the Cleveland job last year but goes to the Browns to be DC. Now that job is open again and I can’t think Horton would be thrilled if he was kept under contract when Bowles — the man who replaced him — then got the head Browns gig.)

I don’t know exactly what Bruce Arians, who has made clear his hope that Bowles someday becomes a head coach, would do if Bowles left. I’m not sure there is an automatic candidate on the staff already. But that’s a long way off. It still seems likely to me Bowles will be around for another year as defensive coordinator. Certainly, the Cards would like that to happen.


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog | 22 Comments »

Coaching matters to Cards

Posted by Darren Urban on December 18, 2013 – 10:13 am

MMQB.com published a interesting read this morning about how Bruce Arians and his staff may have done the best coaching job in the NFL this season. The piece, well worthy of a read, details a couple of plays on offense and defense as to how the staff has done a good job utilizing the Cardinals’ strengths. And it makes a lot of sense.

It’s been notable the Cardinals have tried fewer deep plays as the season has gone on because, quite frankly, the protection wasn’t able to hold up well enough in those situations. Arians has done a nice job diversifying the passing game. It means that someone like Larry Fitzgerald might not get as many catches as many would like, but it may help more in the long-run.

There is also no question that the coaching on the offensive line — led by offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, along with assistants Larry Zierlein and David Diaz-Infante — has made a big difference on that unit. The Cards have done a better job scheming protection as the season as gone on, but the more intimate coaching situation helps. When Arians was hired, he said one of the reasons he wanted so many coaches was to, essentially, keep class sizes down for the players (those of you who are or who know teachers know what I am talking about). Teaching matters to Arians. It seems to be paying off.

A couple of other interesting points in the article:

— Author Andy Benoit said he thinks Fitzgerald’s shift to multiple positions helps, even if Fitz’s numbers have shrunk. “The 30-year-old is just beginning what will prove to be a career-extending renaissance” Benoit writes. (Now, whether that can line up with an $18 million salary cap number, well, that’s one of the big questions of the offseason.)

— He called Andre Ellington a future superstar (and made sure to emphasize that he meant superstar and not just star.)

— He noted that Patrick Peterson’s ability to cover main receivers one-on-one with no help creates freedom for defensive coordinator Todd Bowles in Bowles’ quality scheming.

As the season comes to a close, the staff has a lot of pressure. Bowles has to handle a couple of physical offenses without key cog Tyrann Mathieu (and maybe without starting safety Rashad Johnson), for instance. And that offensive line that has been doing well enough now has to face a pair of incredible defensive lines. But the Cardinals likely wouldn’t be in this 9-5 position without the chess moves of Arians’ group.

— Arians said during his weekly segment on Sirius XM NFL Radio last night that Fitzgerald will not practice today, but that he remains hopeful that Fitzgerald will be able to play Sunday following his concussion. I saw Fitzgerald yesterday afternoon as he came out to take part in Darnell Dockett’s annual Christmas outing for needy kids. I didn’t speak to Fitz other than to say hi, but I can definitely see how this will have to play out as the week goes along. I don’t expect anything definitive on Fitzgerald before Friday, and even then I wouldn’t be shocked to hear it would be a game-day decision. That’s what happened to Kurt Warner in 2009 in Tennessee, when the decision on game day was to hold Warner out.

BAcoachesblogUSE


Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 22 Comments »

Shipp back on the Cardinals’ field

Posted by Darren Urban on May 2, 2013 – 3:21 pm

The Cardinals have a handful of coaching interns on hand to help them through the offseason and training camp. One of the faces is very familiar — former Cards running back Marcel Shipp.

“It’s weird,” Shipp said after a recent workout. “Just being out here, it felt like I’m hurt and just not practicing.”

It’s been a while since he’s practiced as a Cardinal. Shipp made the team back in 2001 as an undrafted rookie out of UMass. He outplayed Thomas Jones early on, and just when Jones was dumped and Shipp thought he was going to get his chance, Emmitt Smith was signed. Then after 2003, when Smith was hurt all year and Shipp played pretty well, Denny Green came in in 2004 and dropped the post-offseason work bomb on Shipp that — despite Shipp running first team all offseason — Smith was indeed the starter. Oh, and to add injury to insult, Shipp suffered his ugly broken ankle/leg during the Red-White Scrimmage in training camp, ending his season. (I still have the photo of Shipp lying in pain with teammates trying to help him, his foot at an angle it should never be for a human being.)

That’s ancient history now, though. Shipp actually stayed with the Cardinals through training camp of 2008 before being released, and after a brief camp stop with the Houston Texans, moved on to an effective stint in the UFL from 2009-2011 with the Las Vegas franchise. In 2012, he was the running backs coach for Vegas until the UFL finally went under. But it gave Shipp the coaching bug.

“I always thought about it,” said Shipp, who often works youth football camps, including some through the Cardinals. “The opportunity on the professional level, though, you can’t put that into words.”

There was a small connection with Bruce Arians too, since both Arians and Shipp were born in Paterson, N.J. With the Cards, he’s working with the wide receivers.

“I’m just blessed to be back in, especially with the Cardinals,” Shipp said.

With Shipp around in coaching (for now), Josh Scobey working in the team’s personnel department and Damien Anderson the team’s Alumni Relations Manager, it’s like the Cards are getting the running backs room, circa 2004, back together. No word on whether Emmitt is on the way.

ShippBlogUSe

 


Tags: ,
Posted in Blog | 33 Comments »

On the field, with coaches

Posted by Darren Urban on April 15, 2013 – 2:09 pm

On a day where most of the NFL was just starting their offseason work (and on a day when football seems a little trivial given the tragic events at the Boston Marathon), the Cardinals were entering Phase II of the offseason schedule thanks to their new coaching staff. That meant on-field work for about an hour today with coaches. The main restriction is no offense-versus-defense work, which meant once the defensive players finished with their various position drills and gathered as a group, they were limited to lining up against trash cans to walk through various defensive calls without much else to do. The offense didn’t get to do a ton more, but at least there were snaps and handoffs and passes, even if it was against air.

The most noticeable thing on this initial day of coach/player work on the field: The tangible evidence of the larger coaching staff. When players are working with individual units, they had smaller groups thanks to the extra coaches. That was Head Coach Bruce Arians’ plan all along (and there is Arians below checking out his team). Arians wanted more coaches so that it was easier to teach (and with my wife being a teacher, I understand the desire for smaller class sizes). That extended on to the field when assistant offensive line coach Larry Zierlein worked with the edge blockers (tight ends and tackles) while offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin worked with the centers and guards. Or linebackers coach Mike Caldwell working the inside linebackers with outside linebackers coach James Bettcher working with that group.

The crowd was also good. This is all voluntary remember — including next week’s minicamp — but the Cardinals had almost everyone on hand. A story on the homepage and a photo gallery coming later today.

BruceWorkPicUSE


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 24 Comments »

Cardinals have their coaches

Posted by Darren Urban on February 5, 2013 – 1:34 pm

The Cardinals finally released a list of their new coaching staff Tuesday. They had already announced, after the hiring of head coach Bruce Arians, the addition of assistant head coach/offense Tom Moore, offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Now comes 13 new names, along with keeping four holdover coaches:

— Special teams coordinator: Amos Jones (last job, special teams coach, Pittsburgh Steelers)

— Quarterbacks: Freddie Kitchens

— Wide receivers: Darryl Drake (receivers coach, Chicago Bears)

— Running backs: Stump Mitchell (head coach, Southern University)

— Tight ends: Rick Christophel (head coach, Austin Peay)

— Assistant tight ends, assistant special teams: Steve Heiden (tight ends coach, Concordia University)

— Assistant offensive line: Larry Zierlein (OL coach, Hartford of UFL; was Steelers’ OL coach from’07-’09)

— Defensive line: Brentson Buckner (intern DL coach, Steelers, 2010-12)

— Pass rush: Tom Pratt (consultant, IMG Academy)

— Linebackers: Mike Caldwell (linebackers coach, Philadelphia Eagles)

— Outside linebackers: James Bettcher (special assistant to head coach, Indianapolis Colts)

— Defensive backs: Nick Rapone (defensive coordinator, University of Deleware)

— Cornerbacks: Kevin Ross (safeties coach, Oakland Raiders)

— Defensive assistant/assistant defensive backs: Ryan Slowik

— Offensive assistant: Kevin Garver (offensive assistant, University of Alabama)

— Strength and conditioning: John Lott

— Assistant strength and conditioning: Pete Alosi

An interesting note: the offensive line doesn’t have a offensive line coach per se. Duties teaching the line will be split between Zierlein, Moore and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, who has spent his coaching career as an offensive line coach.

Kitchens had been coaching tight ends under Ken Whisenhunt, but moves to quarterbacks, a position Kitchens played in college. Slowik was outside linebackers coach on the last staff, and of course, Lott and Alosi remain in their former jobs. The staff of 21 is four more coaches than was on Whisenhunt’s staff. Arians said he preferred to have extra coaches on staff, and said he likes the diversity of experience and youth. The group moved into offices and began their meetings today. More in a bit on azcardinals.com, including more background on the new group. (And here it is.)


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 40 Comments »

Coaching staff roundup, as of now

Posted by Darren Urban on January 24, 2013 – 11:11 am

The Cardinals still have not officially announced their full coaching staff, past the the three top assistants. Usually the team likes to wait until everything is finalized with everyone before putting out the full list, as opposed to putting it all out piecemeal. But that doesn’t mean word hasn’t gotten out here and there as coaches are at the Senior Bowl or talk to hometown newspapers or the like. So, from that, here are the names circulating in various spots:

— Wide receivers: Darryl Drake, long-time receivers coach for the Bears;

— Running back: Todd McNair, former USC running backs coach who played in the NFL and for Arians at Temple;

— Tight ends: Rick Christophel, who had been head coach at Austin Peay;

— Defensive line: Brentson Buckner, a former 12-year defensive lineman in the NFL in his first NFL job (he interned with the Steelers from 2010 to 2012, and Arians was there a couple of those years);

— Linebackers: Mike Caldwell, who had been on the Eagles’ staff with new DC Todd Bowles and played for the Cardinals in 1997;

— Pass rush: Tom Pratt, who has been working with potential draftees at IMG in recent years;

— Defensive backs: Nick Rapone, who had been DC at the University of Deleware and coached with Arians at Temple;

— Special teams: Amos Jones, who worked with Arians in Pittsburgh;

— Offensive quality control: Kevin Garver, formerly of Alabama.

There is also holdover coach Freddie Kitchens, who was coaching tight ends but now is expected to coach quarterbacks. Kitchens played quarterback at Alabama and was a senior starter there when Arians was offensive coordinator in 1997. There are other spots still open, too, obviously, as we wait for official word.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 90 Comments »

Cards add Moore, Goodwin, Bowles to staff

Posted by Darren Urban on January 21, 2013 – 3:06 pm

The Cardinals officially announced Monday the additions of the three main new coaches to Bruce Arians’ staff: offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Tom Moore, the assistant head coach/offense. The addition of Bowles and Goodwin I’ve covered before. Hopefully we’ll hear from Arians soon about his choice. While I understand there are still a lot of questions over going from Ray Horton to Bowles, that too was explained in simple terms by Arians. Now we see how this plays out.

But the addition of Moore is a big deal. Moore had stepped away from the game for health reasons — he did serve as a consultant for the Titans for five games at the end of the 2012 season and consulted for the Jets in 2011 — but he wanted to get back into coaching this year. The Cardinals benefit. Moore was the guru who brought along a young Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. That, along with Arians himself, give the Cardinals a good base with whatever young quarterback they choose to bring along. Between the two of them (below, talking before a Colts-Titans game last season), that’s a good start for any young quarterback.

Now, would the quarterback be Kevin Kolb? Maybe. It would seem very likely a quarterback is drafted this year. Sitting here right now, I don’t see it in the first round and seventh overall, but second round, that makes sense. Jason Cole noted Arians was at the Senior Bowl practice of the North team Monday, a team that features quarterbacks Mike Glennon of North Carolina State, Ryan Nassib of Syracuse and Zac Dysert of Miami (Ohio.)

As for the rest of the staff, I believe most of the decisions — if not all — have been made but the announcements will filter out as the logistics work out.

MooreAriansBlog


Tags: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 60 Comments »

Staff starts coming together

Posted by Darren Urban on January 19, 2013 – 11:10 pm

There have been no official announcements yet from the Cardinals about additions and changes to the coaching staff, but multiple reports from many places have noted that new head coach Bruce Arians — who said Friday he was hoping to have his staff set by Sunday — is starting to do just that.

To the surprise of no one, former Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is the pick for Ray Horton’s replacement as defensive coordinator. Bowles took over in Philly for the fired Juan Castillo last year as the Eagles season went from bad to worse. Bowles played for Arians at Temple and later played for the Redskins and 49ers. Here’s an interesting coincidence too — Bowles was interviewed for the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator job in 2011, the spot that eventually went to Horton. He worked as the assistant head coach and interim head coach while in Miami, but his part-season stint in Philly this season was his first as a coordinator.

For offensive coordinator, Arians will go back to his Colts’ ties to bring in Harold Goodwin, who was the offensive line coach in Indianapolis. Arians already said he will call his own plays. But having Goodwin on staff — along with whomever is the going to be the offensive line coach — will give the Cards extra eyes on a unit that needs to improve. Arians already said he is a big believer in technique on the line. Goodwin’s brother, Jonathan, is an offensive lineman for the 49ers.

(It may be worth noting, after a lot of talk of late that after the head coaching hires around the league did not include a minority, both Cardinals’ coordinators will be African-American.)

The Cardinals do need a lot more spots filled. It looks like Arians will move on from the bulk of the holdover coaches. Special teams coach Kevin Spencer joined former boss Ken Whisenhunt with the Chargers Saturday (Whiz was named offensive coordinator and the Chargers hired Frank Reich, who was just the Cards’ receivers coach, as the quarterbacks coach).  The Cards reportedly only are keeping tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens — Kitchens played quarterback in college for Arians when Arians was the offensive coordinator in 1997 for Alabama — and strength coach John Lott. That would mean moving on from defensive line coach Ron Aiken, linebackers coaches Matt Raich and Ryan Slowik and defensive backs coach Louie Cioffi.

Again, there have been no official announcements yet. Whether the staff is all in place by tomorrow is in question, but as coaches and scouts head to Mobile next week for the Senior Bowl work, it seems that Arians will have a good chunk of his work done (and Mobile is often a place where coaches can interview prospective candidates, too.)

 


Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 54 Comments »

No QB announcement, but a bunch of other news

Posted by Darren Urban on November 19, 2012 – 11:41 am

Coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t naming a starting quarterback for this week yet. Evaluation is still coming. Kevin Kolb is working to get back, and Whiz said Ryan Lindley did OK. He also said Lindley had impressed him at practice over the weeks. He never considered started Lindley in Atlanta after John Skelton had a good game in Green Bay, but said watching Skelton miss too many opportunities early in Atlanta led him to make the change. Much more on this later in a homepage story.

— Whiz on safety Adrian Wilson dealing with his demotion: “It’s never easy but Adrian is a real pro and he handled it well. But that’s where we are as a team. James (Sanders) and Rashad (Johnson) deserved a chance. We are trying to get better.”

— Running back Beanie Wells will be activated off injured reserve this week, Whiz said, and the Cards expect him to play Sunday.

— Regarding rookie left tackle Nate Potter’s first NFL start: “He fought and I think he’s going to be OK out there.”

— Nothing new on cornerback Patrick Peterson. He left the game briefly with a hamstring problem. Whiz said Peterson told him it was cramps.

— Whiz said that given the Cards’ problems, he’d have to at least consider changes within the duties of the coaching staff. One example suggested to Whiz was play-calling. The coach certainly didn’t commit to doing that, but “that’s something that you look at.”

— Rookie receiver Michael Floyd was benched after lining up wrong, but Whisenhunt said Floyd also had come out of a route wrong earlier, leading to an incompletion. With the Cards’ margin for error slim to none, that wasn’t going to work. “When you are where we are offensively, you have to create a sense of urgency to make plays and be held accountable for that,” Whisenhunt said.

— On dealing with the six-game losing streak: “It’s tough. It’s tough. Don’t think for a second it doesn’t burn a hole in my gut or in the players’ bellies. … We’ve been in the games. I’m not defending it, but in my career, if you have a team that’s in a lot of games, it shows you are making progress. We’ve had some setbacks with injuries and we are trying to fight through that. I know it’s not easy. We’re not happy about it and I appreciate the support of our fans.

“Ultimately our goal is to make our fans proud. I know we’ve done that when we went to the Super Bowl and the playoffs and we haven’t forgotten that, and we have a lot of young players in here that understand that.”


Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 104 Comments »

McNulty move meant to be proactive

Posted by Darren Urban on February 8, 2012 – 3:38 pm

John McNulty was talking with Larry Fitzgerald after interviewing for the Cards’ open spot of quarterbacks coach. Fitz liked working with his receivers coach enough that he flew McNulty to the Pro Bowl this season as a guest, and he wondered (worried?) aloud to McNulty about who would end up coaching Fitzgerald if McNulty moved to work with QBs.

But McNulty had a simple thought: He thought he could help the quarterback spot, and that, in turn, could help the whole offense.

“I said, ‘Larry, we can sit here and complain about it and be frustrated, or I can try to do something about it,’ ” McNulty said. “I coached the position before, I think I can help those guys and I feel I can get them in a position where they can be more productive for our team. As opposed to, ‘I hope the next guy does this’ or ‘I wish we would do that.’ I figured I’d just throw the hat in the ring.”

One thing you definitely get the feeling of, and it’s McNulty’s passion and confidence in his new job. That’s what came across when he interviewed for the spot (and why both Ken Whisenhunt and president Michael Bidwill were so impressed).

“We’re beyond the replacing-of-Kurt-Warner at this stage,” McNulty said. “That’s not what we are talking about. When we are talking about production, you don’t have to win the game on your own, put the team on your shoulders.

“I’ve always taken a ground zero-type approach to teaching even the most base plays and teaching the fundamentals, where the mental and physical kind of mesh to the point to where, when it is all flying at you full speed, your body, your footwork, your training takes over, and you are able to operate with an efficiency to where the play is designed to operate. Anything after that, there’s enough going on in the game that anything can happen, good and bad. But you have to be on point with what you are supposed to do. That comes with repetitions.”

McNulty would love to get Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Rich Bartel working on those reps now, although the new collective bargaining agreement prohibits work with coaches for a while. Whenever it is, however, McNulty wants his players going over footwork, mentally picturing plays and blitzes and the like, and having the quarterbacks do it over and over. And over, and over again.

“The nature of the business, if you are not productive, you won’t play,” McNulty said. “We have talented guys that have shown they can play and win games. It’s a matter of doing it more consistently.”

There is a familiarity with the quarterbacks that will help with the process. McNulty has seen Kolb and Skelton each from the first days they arrived in Arizona and has been able to observe what their strengths are and what needs improvement. Those are specifics with which to start, although, McNulty said, “there is no preconceived notion of who is going to be ‘The Guy.’ Just more of a knowledge base.”

As for Fitzgerald’s new boss, Fitz kept it simple in a text message when asked about what he thought of Reich coming aboard: “Congrats, and welcome to the family.”


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog | 40 Comments »