While most normal, well-adjusted human beings were finalizing their New Year’s Eve plans on December 31, I found myself on my laptop thinking about a tweet from the NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah. In the tweet, DJ wrote revealed what he thinks are the four best available head-coaching jobs. First, the Cleveland Browns, which seems right, but is still weird considering where this franchise was just a short time ago. Second, he had the Green Bay Packers. Duh. Third, he had the New York Jets, which, OK, but I’m not sure I totally agree -- especially with the uncertainty surrounding the front office there. Last, he had the Arizona Cardinals. I was deceased, as the kids like to say.
The team that plays in the NFC West; the team had more roster turnover than any other team in the league in 2017; the team needs serious help at virtually position outside of quarterback, running back and, ugh, that is it. This season, the Bears gave up 107 total pressures this season, the fewest in the NFL, per PFF. The Cardinals gave up over 200 total pressures and I am not sure how Josh Rosen is still alive. This team finished the 2018 regular season with the worst DVOA in the NFL. Yes, behind the Oakland Raiders. Their total DVOA was -40.4 percent and the next closest team, the Raiders, were -21. The Raiders! This was the worst team in football this year, but it still rates as one of the top four available jobs? Over the Denver Broncos? Over the Miami Dolphins? Over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Even over the Cincinnati Bengals?
I don’t get it.
Kyle Shanahan is coaching in this division and finding creative ways to win in the NFL with a guy named Nick Mullens every now and then. (Last month, this team beat one playoff team in Seattle and almost beat another in Chicago.) Jimmy Garoppolo will be back. Earl Thomas might be on the way. Shanahan devised an offense where Matt Breida can average 5.3 YPC and nobody bats an eye. Just imagine what this Niners team is going to look once they fill out that defense, once Jimmy G is back in the fold, once George Kittle is not the team’s only terrifying weapon on offense. Shanny’s Army is coming, that much is certain.
And then you have two playoff teams who don’t figure to be going anywhere soon -- the Seahawks and the Rams. The former has gone back to their roots as a smash-mouth, run-first team with an MVP-level quarterback under center. Pete Carroll just signed an extension, general manager John Schneider is not going to miss as much in the draft as he did during the height of the Legion of Boom era, and this offensive line is no longer coached by Tom Cable. The latter remains in win-now mode, has a wonderkid head coach, the best defensive coordinator in football, maybe the best running back in football, and one of the best offensive and defensive lines in football. And Jared Goff may actually be pretty good.
This is a problem for the Arizona Cardinals. A big one.
If you’re a prospective coach, like a Mike McCarthy, why would you want this job? Is the opportunity to coach against Sean McVay, Pete Carroll and Kyle Shanahan six times a year really something anyone really wants to do? Competitive nature aside, why follow Steve Wilks in Arizona? Is it the opportunity to develop a quarterback who threw more picks than touchdowns this season? Is it the opportunity to coach the worst offensive line in football? Is it the opportunity to work under a GM who will be on Coach No. 3 and needs to win quickly with a roster that can only lose often? Or maybe you just really want to work for an owner like Michael Bidwell.
Am I taking crazy pills, DJ?
Not all jobs are created equally, and this job sucks. If you’re Mike McCarthy, you’re only in the interview room if you’re assured you’re getting at least a five-year contract and full control of football operations. Any quality coach should demand that sort of power within this kind of organization. It is both something the Cardinals should not do and something Cardinals should have to do given their current predicament. The 2016 Arizona Cardinals with Carson Palmer, Calais Campbell, Tyrann Mathieu, and Tony Jefferson are gone. Sure, Budda Baker and Chandler Jones and Peterson are still around, but then what? Does Kirk bounce back with a new coaching staff? Does Fitz return? Does the team still try and establish a run-first identity with the worst offensive line in football?
In the desert, there are far more questions than answers. This is not a job you take without a whole of assurances about the future. This is not a job you take if this is your second chance at figuring out this whole being a head-coach thing. This is a job you take if you’re Zac Taylor in Los Angeles and want to jump the line. This is a job you take if you’re a college coach that may never get the call from another NFL team. This is a job you take if you’re low on options or high on upside.
Am I crazy or is this not the worst job in the NFL?