When the Cardinals began looking for a new coach earlier this month, many believed they would focus their attention on the offensive side of the ball.
The team has a hole at quarterback following the retirement of Carson Palmer, and it seemed logical to pair a new signal-caller with a head man who would aid his progress.
But General Manager Steve Keim never subscribed to that pigeon-holed philosophy. If the best candidate happened to be an offensive mind, that would have been the choice. But when Steve Wilks, the Panthers’ defensive coordinator, rose to the top of the list, Keim and team president Michael Bidwill had no qualms heading in that direction.
“I don’t think you can get caught up in picking a coach whether he is an offensive or defensive coach,” Keim said. “To me, it’s a little bit like drafting players. Are you going to leave a better player on the board to take a need? To me, for the long-term health of the organization, that’s not the right thing.”
The Cardinals feel like they have identified the right coach to lead the way, and now a pair of important hires await. Since Wilks’ expertise is on defense, the next quarterback will rely heavily on a pair of offensive assistants.
“You’ve got to make sure you’re hiring the right offensive coordinator,” Keim said. “The quarterback coach is so essential. And really, more than anything, it’s the message from the coordinator to the quarterback coach to the player that is so important, to make sure everybody is on the same page.”
The Cardinals won’t have a Bruce Arians-type at the helm any longer, but that doesn’t mean they can’t succeed on offense.
“You can look at the Minnesota Vikings,” Keim said. “Case Keenum had the best year of his career and had some success this year, and Mike Zimmer is a defensive coach. To me, it’s more about the individual players. It’s about the system you have in place, and it’s about the support.”