TEMPE, Ariz. –- While Thursday presents one last chance for many players to make an impression, the preseason finale at Denver offers an Arizona Cardinals coach his last opportunity to improve upon the one skill set the head coach is not yet willing to relinquish: play-calling.
Offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin will call the plays against the Broncos, just as he did last year during the fourth preseason game in San Diego.
It’s the second straight year in which Bruce Arians has handed Goodwin, who also coaches the offensive line, the keys to the offense here in the preseason.
This year, Arians has been more agreeable to let Goodwin drive; at least once the starters have exited the field.
“The thing is you’ve got to get used to it, you’ve got to do it, so I’m having fun with it. Now I can tell you this, it’s hard to coach the o-line and call plays, so I might have to get help from (assistant line coach Larry) Zierlein out of the press box,” Goodwin said during a training camp interview. “He’s told me two (games) and possibly, maybe three. We’ll see how it goes.
“I’m excited whenever he gives me an opportunity to do it. It’s a learning experience.”
When Arians arrived in the desert, he brought with him more than two decades worth of play-calling experience, and it was because of that experience why he wasn’t willing to give up that ability even though the title before his name now read head coach.
“(I’ll call plays) until I can find someone who is going to do it better than me. I haven’t found him yet,” he said at his introductory press conference in 2013.
Arians and Goodwin have worked together for nine straight seasons, the first five coming in Pittsburgh before a year in Indianapolis and now Arizona, where Goodwin is entering his third year as coordinator.
And though Goodwin doesn’t call plays on Sundays as most in his position do, he is heavily involved in game-week preparations, taking the lead in meetings and game planning, with help from Arians, assistant head coach Tom Moore and quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens.
Goodwin, 41, wants to be a head coach, something Arians hopes happens sooner rather than later.
Arians has talked often about establishing his own coaching tree, elevating assistants to coordinators and ultimately to head coaches, as his former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles became this season with the New York Jets.
Allowing Goodwin to call plays would appear to be another means to adding a second branch in the Arians tree.
“I think most people who get hired as head coaches have called plays at some point,” Goodwin said. “I think the only guy that necessarily wasn’t an offensive or defensive coordinator was (John) Harbaugh at Baltimore, but he’s done a fabulous all the years he’s been a head coach.
“I think there are good position coaches out there who are head coach-potential, they just got to get their opportunity, but, obviously the owners like the coordinator title, so we’ll see what happens.”