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The Not-So-Quiet Path Of Harold Goodwin

Offensive coordinator has been under radar, but Arians pushes protégé toward head coaching job


Sometimes he bellows or barks, but mostly, Harold Goodwin's commands come in the form of simple – if stern – sentences.

As he leads the offensive line drills during a warm morning of organized team activities, the constant for the Cardinals' offensive coordinator and de factor offensive line coach is the choice words salted throughout his constant instruction. Like his boss and mentor, Bruce Arians, Goodwin is about teaching. Like Arians, sometimes the teaching has an edge.

"A lot of times you may hear some of those expletives, but it's never really personal," guard Jonathan Cooper said. "It's just his way to emphasize and make

his words have a little more fervor. It definitely keeps things interesting."

As the Cardinals prepare to open training camp at the end of the week, there is a spotlight on Arians, who is trying to get the team to a third straight season of double-digit wins. There will be heavy attention on new defensive coordinator James Bettcher, who will try to keep the unit playing at a high level after the departure of Todd Bowles.

In the background is the 41-year-old Goodwin. Arians calls the plays, but as coordinator, Goodwin does almost everything else to lead offensive preparation. Along with assistant line coach Larry Zierlein, Goodwin also has helped rebuild an offensive line that, at its heart, is Goodwin's vision.

And they get there with Goodwin pushing them, his coaching style – sometimes loudly – on display.

"Obviously I go hard on them," Goodwin said, the thinking being daily pressure from the coach can only make it easier on the players in game situations. The offseason work is when he is hardest on the players, he said, a time to "squeeze, squeeze, squeeze and see what comes out." He said he'll actually back off some in training camp.

"Some guys just wilt," Goodwin said. "I know at the end of the day they are processing what I said, and it comes from a place of love, actually. Some guys can take the tough love and some can't and you have to play that part of it. At the end of the day they all get a bomb here or there."

Goodwin smiles. The goal, believe it or not, is to remove some of the edge.

"I say every day I start out trying to be that way," he said. "Then something freaking sets me off. It's never personal. It's when I get quiet that you should be worried."

Besides, like Arians, Goodwin's method still points his players to where they need to go. It's made him a pretty good coach so far, a coach whom Arians believes should follow Bowles to the head coaching ranks sooner rather than later.

"He wants it perfect and if it's not perfect, coach them," Arians said. "And you coach them in the way that fits your style the best."


As he tells the story of his coaching life, Goodwin breaks into imitations of the men who brought him up through the ranks.

He recounts the phone message he got from then-Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith asking him to interview for Goodwin's first NFL job, delving into Smith's soft Texas drawl. He nails Arians when telling how Arians called to bring him to Indianapolis in 2012.

Images of offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin at work

But Goodwin starts at the beginning, the day Goodwin gave University of Michigan coach Lloyd Carr a ride on campus when Goodwin's time as a student assistant was winding down. Goodwin played at Michigan until knee problems ended his career. To stay on scholarship, Goodwin worked with the coaching staff, going to as many coaches meetings as he could between classes.

In that fateful car ride, Goodwin's path was set when Carr offered him an offensive graduate assistant job.

"He said, 'You really want to do this, huh?' " Goodwin recounts in Carr's gravelly tone. "I was like, 'Uh, yes sir.' "

The timing was perfect. Goodwin's year as GA was a national championship season, with Brian Griese at quarterback and cornerback Charles Woodson winning the Heisman Trophy.

"That was the first time I thought, 'This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,' " Goodwin said.

Originally Goodwin went to college thinking he'd eventually work for Nike or Reebok. But the knee injury – Goodwin was a guard -- and the need to work through his scholarship sent him into a typical coaching odyssey. After stints at Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan and a brief stop at the University of Akron, Smith called and Goodwin was headed to the NFL.

(Through a team spokesman, Smith, who now coaches Tampa Bay, declined an interview request citing Buccaneers policy to not talk about another team's personnel.)

Three seasons as an offensive line assistant with the Bears and five more with the Steelers led to three Super Bowl appearances. His reputation grew. Smith wanted to bring Goodwin back to coach the Bears' offensive line for the 2012 season. But Arians, whom Goodwin had grown close to during his time in Pittsburgh, was headed to the Colts to become offensive coordinator and wanted Goodwin as his offensive line coach. Goodwin didn't hesitate.

That set up one year in Indy, and then the move to Arizona – and another promotion -- when Arians got the Cardinals' job.

"He just looks at the bigger picture now," said quarterback Drew Stanton, who was with the Colts in 2012 and moved to the Cardinals in 2013 when Arians and Goodwin arrived. "Before he was just so focused on the offensive line and he is as good of an offensive line coach that I have been around.

"It's awesome to see the maturation process he's gone through. … I think there is so much that goes into being a head coach, especially on the NFL level. There is a process and he is well on his way of doing that, every year understanding more, doing more."


Goodwin said he doesn't think about becoming a head coach every day. He doesn't have an agent.

It's an inescapable ideal, though, since Arians announced at the introductory press conferences of both Goodwin and Bowles the goal was to get them head coaching jobs. Bowles is gone, having gotten the New York Jets post in January. Goodwin is up.

"I always felt you have to promote your guys," said Arians, who traced that belief back to his time being on Bear Bryant's staff.

"I was hoping (Goodwin) would have a college head coaching job last year. I pushed him as hard as I could. He knows that I want head coaches."

Still, Goodwin didn't really seriously digest such a possibility until a few weeks later, when he attended the Scouting combine in Indianapolis and the NFL asked him – as they do to a handful of potential head coaching candidates – to go through a 45-minute, video-taped mock interview. Often teams and owners get their first sense of coaching candidates by watching those videos.

What they'd find is a coach who has earned the respect of the players and coaches around him.

"He's an ex-player, he's just a normal guy, he's not a guy who can just talk football," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "He has a lot of different interests, he's young so he can assimilate with guys and have conversations with any of the guys in here. He's the combination of a really good teacher and a guy who you can have a good conversation with about a movie or song or whatever. He's not just football, football, football.

"Bruce is calling plays but (Harold) is running meetings. If you have a good practice, it's not good enough. If you have a bad practice, it's bad. Whether it's (Mike) Iupati or D.J. Humphries, he treats everyone the same."

About all that's left for Goodwin to show is an ability to call plays. Goodwin knew the deal when he came to Arizona -- Arians would continue to call plays. Arians said after Goodwin got to call the fourth preseason game last year, the plan is for Goodwin to call two preseason games this season.

Goodwin acknowledges he might be "a little bit behind the curve" because he doesn't call plays, but then again, a guy like John Harbaugh – the Ravens head coach who coached special teams before his current job – has been successful. In the building during the week, anytime there is something that involves getting up in front of the team for offense, Arians will speak up if needed but it is Goodwin who runs the room.

"Good men are good men, good leaders are good leaders. That's what head coaches are," Goodwin said. "One thing I respect about B.A. and even Chuck Pagano, when they walked into the room, losing is not an option."

When Goodwin is talking to his players – which are now everyone on offense – he delivers the same message.

"You just have to know," said tackle Jared Veldheer, "he will try to constantly get you better by pushing for your best."

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