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Arizona Cardinals Resetting Head Coach Search

Arizona Cardinals Resetting Head Coach Search: Scheduled interviews with Kafka, Anarumo and Callahan have shaken up Arizona's coaching.
Cardinals Head Coach

The Arizona Cardinals are resetting their head coach search. Scheduled interviews with Mike Kafka, Lou Anarumo, and Brian Callahan have shaken up the landscape of the coaching search in Arizona. Some frontrunners remain but it seems that Michael Bidwill and new GM Monti Ossenfort are reassessing their options once again. The early frontrunners for the job changed due to the appointment of Ossenfort, who undoubtedly offered his own opinions on some of the other candidates.

Bidwill said that the team would be casting a wide net with regards to the head coaching search. So far, he has fulfilled that promise. A total of 12 candidates have been linked with the job so far, with nine of them receiving an interview (or are set to be interviewed). The search began with a long list of experienced, former head coaches, but it has since expanded drastically. With Arizona one of two teams left in the hunt, it is possible that the team could take their time and bring in even more new candidates too.

Here is an outline of where things stand with the coaching search currently:

Where the Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Search Stands

The Frontrunner: Brian Flores

As it stands, Brian Flores remains the frontrunner for the Cardinals’ top job. His odds fell dramatically after the appointment of Ossenfort.

Flores interviewed with the team Monday last week but has yet to return for a second interview. He is currently the favorite due to his familiarity with Ossenfort and the culture that Ossenfort and Bidwill seek to nurture in Arizona. Discipline, teamwork, and accountability are just a few of the locker room traits that Flores would bring. And, for a team that was lacking in leadership under Kliff Kingsbury, this would be an apt reactionary hire. Flores was a successful head coach for the Miami Dolphins but was ushered out due to various falling outs. He is currently a defensive assistant and linebackers coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is receiving interest to become a defensive coordinator.

The ‘New Batch’: Kafka, Anarumo, and Callahan

After a quiet weekend, it came to light that Arizona had requested and scheduled three new interviews. Kafka, Anarumo, and Callahan were the names. All three are among the league’s top coordinators. With both teams out of the playoffs, the candidates can speak with interested teams more freely.

Kafka led a top New York Giants offense with Daniel Jones at the helm. His offensive playcalling was very impressive and was shown to the nation in an emphatic victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Round. Many have labeled him a ‘quarterback whisperer’ given his prior work with the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback’s coach. One concern with Kafka is that he is still very inexperienced and has few connections in the league. This would make it more difficult to fill out the rest of the coaching staff. Kafka met with the Cardinals on Tuesday for his first interview.

Perhaps the most underrated candidate for the Cardinals head coach is Anarumo. Anarumo is the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals and is currently heralded as one of their secrets to success. Without any elite star power on the Bengals defense, Anarumo has done a great job of putting his players in positions to succeed. Given Anarumo’s impressive resume, it is surprising that the Cardinals are the only team interviewing him. Arizona interviewed Anarumo on Wednesday this week.

Callahan is the final name of the new batch of interviews. He is currently the offensive coordinator of the Bengals and has been a big part of Joe Burrow’s development. Both Callahan and Anarumo would be good choices based on experience and exposure in the league, but neither would be a particularly splashy appointment. Callahan is scheduled to interview with the Cardinals on Thursday.

Still in the Mix: Glenn and Evero

While the Cardinals have brought in some fresh faces, there are still some names left in the mix for head coach. These are Aaron Glenn and Ejiro Evero. Of these two, only Evero has received significant interest from other teams. This means that Glenn could be a backup option. That said, many fans would still be happy if he were appointed.

Glenn is currently the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions. He interviewed with the Cardinals very early in their coaching search and is seen as the kind of coach that would be able to effectively implement Ossenfort’s philosophy. Alongside Dan Campbell in Detroit, Glenn has been influential in creating a competitive and fiery culture with the Lions, something Arizona need more of. His defense was bad this season, but part of that was down to subpar and/or inexperienced personnel. He has, however, shown a good ability to develop his younger players, such as Aidan Hutchinson and Malcolm Rodriguez among a plethora of others.

Evero is an intriguing name, with many commentators believing he is a strong candidate. He is currently the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos but was offered the interim head coach role when Nathaniel Hackett was fired (though he turned the offer down). Evero interviewed with the Cardinals more than a week ago. Since, he has been eliminated from the Broncos race but is currently a favourite with Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts. Evero offers an interesting blend of offensive and defensive coaching experience. He was also the leader of an impressive Broncos defense this year. While all has been quiet with Evero and Glenn, the Cardinals could bring both back for second interviews.

The Dark Horse: Gannon

One candidate still has an outside shot of ending up as the Cardinals head coach. Jonathan Gannon should be considered a dark horse at this point but, if appointed, would be a good hire. Gannon is currently the defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles. His defense was impressive against the San Francisco 49ers in the Championship Round but it has been sturdy all year.

Gannon attracted a lot of interest in last year’s coaching cycle, particularly from Denver, but the Eagles’ Super Bowl run this year has limited his availability to interview. This year, Gannon was considered as one of the top head coaching candidates. Indeed, while Gannon was seen as a favourite with the Houston Texans, he recently said that he would be with Philadelphia in 2023. Some have suggested he was simply a prisoner of the moment, given that his team are in the Super Bowl. Others have argued that his comment is definitive proof that he will not be a head coach in 2023. That said, multiple reports have suggested that the Cardinals remain interested in Gannon, though they will need to wait until after the Super Bowl to speak with him.

Seeming Unlikely: Joseph

Opinion polls and social media suggest that Joseph would be the least popular candidate of the lot. He has been the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator throughout the Kingsbury era and many players have spoken highly of him. He also had head coaching experience with the Broncos before joining Arizona. However, much of the fanbase believe fresh blood and new ideas are needed. The appointment of Ossenfort also suggests that Joseph will be gone. That is despite early rumblings that Bidwill could opt for Joseph as head coach and have Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris as co-GMs.

Out of the Race: Quinn, Reich, Payton, and Ryans

The Cardinals were supposedly high on Dan Quinn, Frank Reich, and Sean Payton at the start. They were also interested in 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. However, all of them are no longer available.

Quinn is the only candidate to have interviewed with the cardinals twice. The team was very high on him after his successful stint as the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator. However, following his second interview with Arizona, Quinn announced that he would be staying put.

Many people in the Cardinals building were enamored with Reich for head coach. He was formerly the team’s wide receivers coach in 2012 and has since spent time in Philadelphia and, most recently, as the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. However, despite Arizona’s interest, the Carolina Panthers got their act together quickly and appointed Reich as their head coach last week.

Payton had a seven-hour interview with the Cardinals on Thursday last week. Rumors were at an all-time high last week, but it has since been revealed that Payton is set to become the new head coach of the Broncos. It was a two-horse race between Denver and Arizona but it seems that Denver were more aggressive in acquiring him. Payton would have been a strong hire but Arizona may be looking for a newer face.

Ryans, meanwhile, is out of the race because he has been appointed by the Texans. He was considered the best candidate (outside of Payton) in this cycle. Thus, it made sense for the Cardinals to be interested. However, Ryans canceled his interview with the Cardinals to prepare for the playoffs. Despite that, he held interviews with the Broncos and Texans. It seems that Ryans may not have been interested in Arizona at all.

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