New assistants an instant upgrade for Arizona Cardinals
A vastly improved contingent of assistant coaches will go a long way in helping the Arizona Cardinals become respected again
As the Arizona Cardinals torturous 2018 campaign crept along, something about the team became more and more apparent. It became quite obvious that the squad’s sideline was littered with incompetent coaching assistants. Individuals that were as much to blame for the Cardinals’ losing as former head coach Steve Wilks was.
Now that most of that depressing staff has been jettisoned, it’s pretty safe to say that Arizona won’t have the same issues this fall. The group that will surround new head man Kliff Kingsbury is an impressive bunch, to say the least. The Cards seemingly made it a point to supply their young innovator with as much experience and know-how as they possibly could.
Cardinals’ general manager Steve Keim’s desire to revert back to a 3-4 defensive alignment prompted him to hire a well-respected coordinator. Vance Joseph spent the last two seasons as the Denver Broncos’ head coach, but was fired this past New Year’s Eve. Arizona wasted no time in scooping up the knowledgeable 46-year old, who runs the type of defense that they coveted.
The Cards hit another bulls-eye with veteran assistant Tom Clements. The offensive guru has been given the titles of passing game coordinator and quarterbacks’ coach, and will make Kingsbury’s transition to the pro game much smoother. Clements’ 20 years of NFL experience includes stints with the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints.
Offensive line coach Sean Kugler has 29 seasons of coaching experience under his belt, including 12 campaigns in the NFL. The 52-year old spent 2018 with the Broncos, and has also coached for the Steelers, Bills and Detroit Lions. Kugler also spent five years as the head coach at the University of Texas-El Paso.
Old friend Bill Davis returns to the desert to tutor the Cardinals’ linebackers, nine years after leaving the organization. The 53-year was once Big Red’s defensive coordinator for two campaigns (2009-10) under Ken Whisenhunt. Davis has spent 24 years as a coach in the league, including coordinator jobs with the San Francisco 49ers (2005-06) and the Philadelphia Eagles (2013-15), as well as his Arizona gig.
There’s a good chance that David Johnson will get back on track with new running backs’ coach James Saxon in charge. The 52-year old has been teaching ball-carriers in the NFL for a whopping 19 seasons. Saxon has had stints with the Steelers, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, Chiefs and Bills before landing with the Cards last month.
Jeff Rodgers is a returnee from Wilks’ staff after doing a bang-up job with the Cardinals’ special teams in ’18. The 15-year veteran has coached in the league with the Chicago Bears, Broncos, Carolina Panthers and 49ers. Kingsbury will be the fifth pro coach that Rodgers has served under, a list that includes Wilks, John Fox, Mike Nolan and Dennis Erickson.
Marcus Robertson has been brought on board to coach Arizona’s defensive backs, after spending 12 campaigns on the staffs of the Tennessee Titans, Lions, Oakland Raiders and Broncos. Newly-hired cornerbacks’ coach Greg Williams has 10 NFL seasons on his resume, including stints with the Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers.
The Cards have obviously rebounded with the new staff, just months after employing possibly the worst in team history. The club will no longer have to suffer with the likes of Mike McCoy, Al Holcomb, Byron Leftwich, Ray Brown and Kirby Wilson around. The pressure will be on the shoulders of Kingsbury, but at least the Cardinals’ front office has provided him with some quality help.