It’s easy to look at the Arizona Cardinals roster and find names that are well regarded across the league. The team certainly has talent, and the franchise is now looking for its next leader to bring out the most from a collection of players that made the postseason just one year ago.
We’ll take a closer look at three candidates that the organization should strongly consider to replace the recently fired Kliff Kingsbury.
Arizona will likely head into the 2023 season behind the proverbial eight ball, as franchise quarterback Kyler Murray will probably not be ready to play during Week 1. Due to the timing of his ACL tear, he might miss a couple months of action as he works his way back to 100% health.
The uncertainty of Murray’s prognosis makes this coaching hire a little clunkier than others, but the Cardinals should still operate under the premise that the former number overall pick will remain in the desert for years to come. With that thinking in mind, the Cardinals would be well served to look at Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman as their next head coach.
The 50 year-old has been an offensive coordinator for the better part of a decade, and has helped shape some of the NFL’s most effective run-heavy offenses during that time. Roman was the offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers during Colin Kaepernick’s time there, and has been the man behind the scenes who put Lamar Jackson on the map. Even though Murray’s mobility may be compromised initially when he returns, his scrambling ability still figures to be a large part of his game. Based on his recent resume, Roman might be the ideal candidate to get the most out of Murray in that regard.
A lot of people in and around the NFL like to bring up that former Houston Texans head coach and executive Bill O’Brien left that franchise high and dry with regards to assets for the future. His decision making as an executive left a lot to be desired, and his focus on the present left the cupboard pretty bare for the organization.
As a coach, however, O’Brien’s track record is not as bad as some would have you believe. He finished over .500 in five of six full seasons in Houston, which is usually good enough to keep a team in the playoff hunt.
He also has a relationship with star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins from that time, who is now in Arizona. As long as the Cardinals allow O’Brien to focus his attention to on-field operations, the fit could be suitable for both.
As evidenced by their decision to bring Kingsbury on just over four years ago, the Cardinals aren’t afraid to make an out of the box hire that no one is expecting. They took a chance on a college coach with no head coaching experience, and that manifested itself with a plethora of penalties in the last few years.
It’s possible that they go with a more experienced candidate this time, like O’Brien, or perhaps former Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell. In his seven seasons leading a team, Caldwell has finished over .500 in five of them.
He’s been out of the league since 2017, and is getting up there in age, but he might be just what Arizona needs at this juncture.