The Arizona Cardinals have three coaches left on their short list, barring anything unforeseen: Brian Flores, Lou Anarumo, and Mike Kafka.
The Arizona Cardinals coaching search appears to be winding down. This is a team that did their due diligence, refusing to rush their first search in four years for the one to head up the sideline for hopefully the next decade if not longer.
Yeah, that’s a big thing to hope for when you root for a franchise that’s seen nearly a dozen full-time head coaches since they moved to the desert. But hey, bad luck and misfortune has to run out sooner than later, right?
So who would be the best fit for the Redbirds? Honestly, each coach has their unique strengths and weaknesses. Since Flores joined the Minnesota Vikings, this article will simply highlight Lou Anarumo and Mike Kafka.
If the Arizona Cardinals plan on rebuilding to a greater extent, Anarumo should be a shoo-in. In his four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, he was part of a program that was the worst team in football, only to see a Super Bowl appearance following the 2021 season. Anarumo knows what it takes to build nothing into something, and it makes him valuable to a 4-13 team.
At 56, Anarumo hasn’t just paid his coaching dues: He was charged at least double. This is a guy who never served as a full-time coordinator at any level sans three seasons at the US Merchant Marine Academy – A Division III school, last I checked. He did see time as an interim defensive coordinator with the Dolphins in 2015.
Anarumo seems to be the Cardinals ultimate boom-bust prospect. Sure, he could be a diamond hidden deep in the rough. Or he could be in over his head from Day 1.
If the Arizona Cardinals want their new head coach to build immediate trust with quarterback Kyler Murray, Kafka should be the guy. An offensive-minded coach who helped Patrick Mahomes become a winner, Kafka also worked wonders with Daniel Jones, a quarterback who looked lost half the time before Kafka’s arrival.
Kafka has just one year of experience as an offensive coordinator at any level. While inexperienced coaches fared well in the past, it’s always a risk to go with someone who led a unit for a single season. Also, while history is on Kafka’s side, he developed two class acts in Mahomes and Jones. Murray isn’t necessarily what you’d call a class act at this point.
If there is one coach here who might be able to get through to Murray, it’s Kafka. But Murray’s been a quarterback in this league far longer than Kafka’s been a coordinator, and that could cause a few issues.
Overall, there is some good and some not-so-good with each prospective head coaching candidate the Arizona Cardinals are interested in. By the end of the week, we may know who they will hire unless the Redbirds are looking to interview a few coordinators from the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles. If that’s the case, we might need to write a follow-up piece.
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