It took Harold Goodwin less than a week to attract the attention of Bruce Arians.
Goodwin was a young, brash and bright new offensive assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007, juggling the jobs of three men at once during spring practices. Arians, who was in his second year as the Steelers’ wide receivers coach, quickly noticed Goodwin’s extensive knowledge of coverages and his passion for coaching the offensive line.
“At that point in time he was handling all the breakdowns for us and coaching the offensive line,” Arians said. “He was doing two or three jobs at once. I can think (of) four or five times he asked me ‘Hey, what do you want to call this coverage?’ For an offensive line coach to have that expertise, you knew this guy had a future more than just being with the guys up front.
“It’s only a matter of time until he’s a head coach.”
Two weeks ago Arians helped Goodwin get one step closer, hiring the 39-year-old to be the Cardinals’ new offensive coordinator. On Wednesday, during Goodwin’s introductory press conference, pupil and professor shared a table and the spotlight, both showering each other with mutual respect.
Arians reaffirmed that he’ll be calling the plays but said Goodwin will be in charge of everything else offense related.
“There’s nowhere to go but up,” Arians quipped. “I guarantee you we won’t be there this year.”
As Arians did with the quarterbacks and receivers in Indianapolis last season, Goodwin will focus his energies on what he knows: the offensive line. The former University of Michigan offensive lineman has coached the position since he left Ann Arbor and embarked on a career that included five years in the college ranks before jumping to the NFL in 2004 with the Chicago Bears. His younger brother, Jonathan Goodwin, is the starting center for the San Francisco 49ers, which will make the brothers’ phone conversations from now on more about pleasantries than pass protection.
“I’m going to win those battles, though,” Goodwin said. “This past Sunday (at the Super Bowl) was the last time I can ever root for the 49ers. That’s out the window now.”
Goodwin likes what he’s seen on tape of the Cardinals’ offensive line so far. Arians added that last year’s rash of injuries that hit the line was actually a blessing in disguise.
“We got to see some young guys play a lot of football and that you can evaluate,” Arians said.
One major expectation from the new coaching staff is position flexibility up front, Arians said. Last season
Like his professor, Goodwin is learning what it means to coach on a broader scale. He’s now responsible for the running backs, tight ends, wide receivers and the quarterback. He now has a staff under him that’s responsible for distributing Goodwin’s message. And if anything was established Wednesday, it’s that that message won’t be given softly.
“With Harold’s leadership up front, there’s gonna be a high intensity level. I have to use my correct words,” Arians said with a smile.
Goodwin laughed. It’s a familiar feeling for him. He’s juggled before. It’s how he started in the NFL. It’s how he’s climbing the coveted coaching ladder.
And now, seven years after meeting his pigskin professor, he’s brimming with the passion that kept Arians coaching for 38 years.
“I’ve taken that in and that’s how I approach the game,” Goodwin said. “That’s how I coach it.”