When Bruce Arians was announced as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, he said he hoped to have his coaching staff assembled before the team left for Mobile, Alabama and the Senior Bowl. Against the odds, Arians appears to have made good on his first promise, reportedly putting together his entire staff within days of his appointment, save for the final paperwork—no mean feat considering that tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens is apparently the only holdover from Ken Whisenhunt's staff.
Thus far, only three assistants have officially been named, Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator, Harold Goodwin as offensive coordinator and Tom Moore as assistant head coach/offense.
Bowles, a former team captain at Temple, under then head coach Arians, comes as no surprise to anyone. He was reportedly always part of a package deal with Arians, who had apparently promised him the job when Arians was the leading candidate for the Chicago Bears job.
Bowles was a finalist for the Cardinals defensive coordinator position in 2011 narrowly losing out to Ray Horton at the time, and will likely be a near straight swap for the outgoing Horton.
Goodwin, the former offensive line coach for the Indianapolis Colts is considered a solid hiring by the Cardinals. Arians spoke about bringing multiple coaches on board to help bolster the offensive line, and Goodwin is considered one of the best offensive line coaches available. Goodwin cut his teeth as an offensive assistant in Pittsburgh before moving with Arians to the Colts, and knows Arians and his style of football well.
Though Goodwin bares the title of Offensive coordinator, Arians will primarily handle offensive play calling himself, allowing Goodwin to focus his energy on other areas, including coaching the offensive line and working on quarterback protection, as well as the teams overall offensive strategy. Goodwin is likely to be supported by at least one dedicated offensive line coach, and a tight end coach, with the possibility of separate assistants to focus on guards, tackles or both.
Perhaps the biggest coup, however, is Moore. Moore is known as a quarterbacks guru, who helped develop Peyton Manning into the future hall of fame quarterback he is today. At 74 years old, and with over 36 years as a coach, Moore and Arians combine to bring more coaching experience than the entire offensive staff of many teams.
Moore had taken a step back from coaching in recent years due to health concerns, carrying out a consultant role with the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans which allowed him the opportunity to work from hime more often. However, his desire to return to coaching was well known, and his appointment to the Cardinals staff is considered a major win for a team who has struggled with quarterback consistancy recently.
His role, as assistant head coach/offense is, perhaps deliberately, ill defined. Moore will almost certainly take a level of ownership over the passing game, working directly with whichever quarterbacks the team run with in 2013. Moore will likely work alongside Kitchens—who according to reports will coach quarterbacks in 2013—designing the regimen that the younger Kitchens will execute with the players.
The remainder of the staff will likely be announced in the coming days, but with the offensive line and passing game staff in such good shape, many fans can rest a little easier knowing that Arians seems to have things in control, and his priorities in order.
With the coaching situation apparently under control, Arians and the Cardinals staff travelled to Alabama to scout players at the Senior Bowl.
The Cardinals currently have three quarterbacks under contract, Kevin Kolb, John Skelton and Ryan Lindlay, and it is not beyond the realms of possibility to expect that a group as accomplished as Arians and Moore to mould any of these players into an NFL starter. However, only Kolb had any measure of success in 2012, and for the second time in as many years, missed a major part of the season due to injury. His $9 million contract and $2 million roster bonus in 2013 mean that the team are virtually guaranteed to test the market to see if there is a better option available before committing to such a hefty sum.
Several free agents are likely to be available, including Alex Smith and Michael Vick, though neither player seems to really fit Arians' mould.
And while 2012 offered a bumper crop of NFL ready quarterback in the draft, 2013 is looking a little leaner at present. Draft expert Mel Kipper, for example, does not predict a single quarterback going off the board during the first round at present.
However, given the experience Arians and Moore both have in moulding young quarterbacks, the Cardinals are all but guaranteed to take one during the early rounds. Geno Smith or Ryan Nassib may both option at seventh overall, but more likely are Arkansas' Tyler Wilson, or NC State's Mike Glennon, or either Smith or Nassib if they fall in the second round, or Zac Dysert from Miami (Ohio) in the third round.
Arians and the Cardinals team were on site to visit with three of these options—Glennon, Nassib and Dysert—during the Senior Bowl, when the Cardinals spent their time observing the North team.
The Cardinals may also look to bolster their offensive line, with several interesting prospects on the North roster, including Eric Fisher and Justin Pugh, both of whom could to the Cardinals in either the first or second rounds respectively.
It is impossible to know what, exactly, the Arians regime will look like until after the draft. It is pure speculation to guess what Arians, and those with whom he has surrounded himself will value in players until after he starts to build his own roster, but there is plenty for Cardinals fans to smile about at the moment, and all signs point to the fact that the Arians era should get off to a good start in the coming weeks and months.