Talented coordinators are leaving Arizona Cardinals division
By Jim Koch
One of the toughest obstacles standing in the way of the Arizona Cardinals is the division they reside in. It can be argued that the NFC West has the most competitive set of teams in the NFL. Having to deal with quality squads like the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers on a yearly basis is by no means a picnic for Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals.
Over the past couple of weeks, however, Arizona has watched with interest as several top coordinators have exited the division. Talented assistant coaches who have been a pronounced thorn in the side of the Redbirds in recent times.
During his one season as defensive coordinator, Brandon Staley helped the Rams continue their domination of the Cards that has lasted for four consecutive campaigns. The 38-year old presided over a unit that was the National Football League’s number-one ranked defense in 2020. The Cardinals, and the rest of the NFC West for that matter, received some good news on January 17th when Staley became the new head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Arizona also has to be thrilled with the fact that Robert Saleh is no longer the defensive coordinator of the 49ers. The 41-year old, who was this year’s top head-coaching candidate, was handed the New York Jets job on January 14th. Saleh devised a scheme in week 16 that limited the Cards offense to just 12 points when a mere victory would’ve ended Big Red’s four-season playoff drought.
The Seahawks made a change at one of their coordinator positions as well. Brian Schottenheimer, who had been in charge of Seattle’s scoring attack since 2018, was fired by the organization on January 12th. The club sent the 47-year old packing, despite the fact that Schottenheimer’s unit set a franchise record by amassing 459 points this past fall.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals announced back on January 7th that passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Tom Clements is retiring from a coaching career that began back in 1992. As far as the defensive unit, there are a contingent of fans who believe that coordinator Vance Joseph should be relieved of his duties. Unfortunately, it appears that the 48-year old will be returning for a third campaign as the boss of the Arizona defense in 2021.