The Arizona Cardinals search is over, with former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator and interim head coach Bruce Arians officially named as their new head coach. However, in the process, they may have lost their current defensive coordinator Ray Horton who was reportedly lead to believe that he would get the job.
Arians becomes the Cardinals head coach following a lengthy and thorough search. Arians reportedly interviewed very well, and left the interview very confident about his chances, referring to the Cardinals as "we" during a post interview press conference, even before he was offered the job.
Arians is, in some ways, the most successful former head coach available. In 2012 he lead the Indianapolis Colts on an interrim basis for 12 games while regular head coach Chuck Pagano was undergoing Leukaemia treatment. During that time, he lead the Colts to an impressive 9-3 run to the playoffs.
Head coach candidates usually come in one of two varieties, either successful assistants or college coaches with no recent NFL head coaching experience, or fired head coaches coming off a poor run of recent form, making Arians somewhat of an anomaly. Teams would not typically have the chance to hire a winning head coach from the previous season, but Arians interim status made this possible, perhaps accounting for the swiftness with which the decision was made.
Arians has helped develop numerous successful quarterbacks in recent years, including Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, and the Cardinals are clearly hopeful that he can do the same in Arizona. While Arians will certainly take a long hard look at quarterbacks which may be available in the draft, through free agency or even trading, he also spoke during his press conference of his belief in coaching up the players in front of you and his "next man up" philosophy. Whoever quarterbacks for the Cardinals in 2013, Arians expects to be able to bring out the best in them and win.
The one downer on the hire in the minds of most fans, however, is the apparent loss of defensive coordinator Ray Horton in the process.
Horton was considered a leading contender for the head coaching job early on after a very positive 2012 campaign.The teams defense was considered by most to be the only bright spot during the season.
However reports indicate that Horton felt mislead about his prospects and betrayed. His meeting with new general manager Steve Keim became very heated when Keim explained that Arians, not Horton would get the top job. Horton was described as "pissed" and according to some reports asked to be released from the remainder of his contract and allowed to pursue other coordinators jobs elsewhere.
Eagles defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, is rumored to be his replacement though Bowles too, is currently under contract leaving several technicalities standing in the way. Bowles reportedly "wowed" the Cardinals when he interviewed for their defensive coordinators position before Horton was eventually selected. Bowles has struggled in 2012 to adjust to the Eagles 4-3 scheme, and would likely relish the chance to return to a more familiar 3-4 scheme, such as the one Arizona run.
Nonetheless, the loss of Horton will be seen as a blow to the Cardinals fan base and locker room, where he was very well liked and highly respected. Indeed, the hiring of Arians feels like a slap in the face to many people, who felt that the organization had effectively promised that Horton would remain with the team in some capacity no matter what.
There remains a chance that Horton will calm down and choose to remain with the team until the end of his contract—storming out of a job which made your reputation does not help his future head coaching prospects—or that the team will offer him some titular promotion, like "assistant head coach" to attempt to smooth things over. But earlier reports that Arians did not want to keep Horton anyway may make this a moot point.
Until team president Michael Bidwell, Keim and Arians address the press following the official announcement and they begin to fill out the staff, it is hard to know what comes next, but at least now the top position is filled, the team can begin to answer these remaining questions.