According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Arizona Cardinals next head coach is 95 percent certain to be former Philadelphia Eagles‘ head coach Andy Reid. The Cardinals fired former head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves on Monday, at the same time Reid was fired from the Eagles having been with the franchise for over a decade. Although they fired Graves and Whisenhunt, the Cardinals crucially retained defensive coordinator Ray Horton even though teams are requesting permission to interview him for bigger roles elsewhere. Horton is the key for a successful move from Philadelphia to Arizona for Reid though, so the Cardinals should be desperate to hold onto him.
Reid has proven over the the past decade and more that he can run an effective offense, but even more importantly he has shown the ability to get the very best out of each and every quarterback that comes his way. In fact, should Reid find his way to the Cardinals sidelines, then he will be reunited with former Eagles’ quarterback Kevin Kolb, who Reid himself drafted in the second round. Kolb was enjoying an impressive season this year prior to being injured and did enough to be acquired by the Cardinals when he played for Reid in Philadelphia.
In Arizona, Reid will have the opportunity to revamp the offense with Kolb under center, or start afresh completely to build his own offense with the pieces he can acquire. More importantly, Reid won’t have to work on the defense at all. The Cardinals have one of the most talented defenses in the NFL and it is littered with youthful pieces. In an ideal world, they could add one more pass rushing outside linebacker to partner Sam Acho, but Ray Horton’s aggressive style of defense and the quality of defensive linemen would allow them to be an elite group if they weren’t consistently having to carry the offense.
Reid enjoyed his best spells with the Eagles when he was able to hand the defense over to the late, great Jim Johnson. Johnson was the Eagles defensive coordinator from 1999 to 2008 when the Eagles lived on a variety of blitzes and complex formations to confuse the opposition. Horton runs a different scheme, having learned his trade working under Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh, but the philosophy is the same. Horton uses pressure to force the quarterback into mistakes while never being scared to trust his coverage in key situations. If Reid can come in and improve the Cardinals current offensive pieces, then he will have the potential to build a very good offense with the assets that he could acquire in the off-season.
The Cardinals have roughly $100 million committed to contracts next season that will count against the salary cap, so they should be able to attract free agents should Reid desire. They also will pick seventh overall in each round of the NFL draft, giving Reid ample opportunities to add pieces to fit his scheme. Taking defenders with high draft picks won’t be a priority, so Reid will have the freedom to take the offense in what ever direction he desires.
With Andre Roberts, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and and Early Doucet, the Cardinals don’t actually need any receivers. Instead, they could spend their whole draft on improving the offensive line and grabbing a late round running-back to complement Ryan Williams and company.