ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals head-coaching tracker: Ryans hired by Texans

Jan 19, 2023, 12:07 PM | Updated: Jan 31, 2023, 5:10 pm
Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans of the San Francisco 49ers talks with linebacker Fred Warner #54...
Defensive Coordinator DeMeco Ryans of the San Francisco 49ers talks with linebacker Fred Warner #54 during training camp at SAP Performance Facility on July 31, 2021 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Changes have begun within the Arizona Cardinals organization following the firing of head coach Kliff Kingsbury and the stepping down of general manager Steve Keim on Monday.

The reset in the desert is officially in motion.

Now, it’s on to searching for that right fit.

A look at some of the coaches being linked to the Cardinals as they continue their stone unturning:

DeMeco Ryans, 49ers DC

The Houston Texans are hiring San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans as their next head coach, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Schefter adds the deal is for six years.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Denver Broncos spent Tuesday trying to hire Ryans before pivoting to Sean Payton.

The Cardinals had requested an interview with Ryans, but he ended up canceling his interview with Arizona ahead of his team’s first-round playoff matchup, according to FOX NFL Sunday’s Jay Glazer.

Ryans also canceled with the Indianapolis Colts, but interviewed with both the Broncos and Texans.

The 38-year-old was a fast riser in the coaching ranks, starting out in 2017 with San Francisco as a defensive quality control coach on the first iteration of Kyle Shanahan’s staff. Ryans advanced to inside linebackers coach from 2018-20 and then took over defensive coordinator duties when predecessor Robert Salah took the New York Jets’ head-coaching job in 2021.

In 2022 behind NFL Defensive Player of the Year favorite Nick Bosa, San Francisco finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in defensive DVOA (Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average), ranking fifth against the pass and second against the rush.

San Francisco gave up the fewest yards per game (300.6) and points per game allowed (16.3) while ranking second in rush yards allowed per game (76.9).

Ryans played for the Texans from 2006-11 and the Philadelphia Eagles from 2012-15.

The former linebacker piled up 735 tackles with 13.5 sacks and seven interceptions in his career.

Mike Kafka, Giants OC

ESPN’s Field Yates and NFL Network’s Tom Peliserro reported the intention to interview Kafka, who Pelissero added will meet with the team Tuesday.

Kafka has already interviewed for the openings with the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts.

The 35-year-old Kafka played quarterback in the NFL from 2010-15, appearing in four games with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011.

He jumped into coaching as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Northwestern, in 2016 for a season. Kafka joined the Kansas City Chiefs as an offensive quality control coach in 2017, was elevated to quarterbacks coach in 2018 and added the responsibility of passing game coordinator to that title in 2020.

Kafka joined the Giants this past year under head coach Brian Daboll, the former Buffalo Bills OC. Before the 2022 season, Daboll announced that Kafka would call plays for New York, which went on to make the playoffs with a 9-7-1 record. New York ranked 18th in yards per game.

The Giants, with quarterback Daniel Jones learning Daboll’s offense, had the seventh-lowest passing yards per game average (185.7) in the NFL during the regular season but was fourth in rushing yards per game (148.2) while leaning on running back Saquon Barkley.

Sean Payton, former Saints head coach

After months of speculation, the Denver Broncos are acquiring the former New Orleans Saint as the team’s next head coach, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Schefter adds the Broncos are sending the Saints their 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-rounder in exchange for Payton and New Orleans’ 2024 third-round selection.

Payton had also met with the Cardinals, Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers amid their coaching searches.

Payton coached the Saints from 2006-21 before stepping down from his role on the football field and moving to an analyst on FOX. During his Saints’ tenure, the head coach posted a 152-89 record and a Super Bowl XLIV win.

Interestingly enough, Payton worked for the Bidwill family in the past, serving as a St. Louis Cardinals ball boy.

“I think I know that family well enough,” he told Colin Cowherd in November.

Brian Callahan, Bengals OC

Arizona has requested an interview with Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Callahan just wrapped up Year 4 in his coordinator role with a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship on Sunday, a position he’s held since 2019. The OC is coming off back-to-back AFC Championship games and a Super Bowl berth last year.

Offensively, the Bengals were eighth in the NFL in total offense (360.5 per game) in 2022 and sixth in points scored (26.1 per game).

Callahan, son of former Oakland Raiders head coach Bill Callahan, began his NFL coaching career as a Denver Broncos coaching assistant in 2010 before moving on to offensive quality control coach (2011-12) and offensive assistant (2013-15).

He also spent time with the Detroit Lions (2016-17) and Raiders (2018) as their QBs coach.

Lou Anarumo, Bengals DC

The Arizona Cardinals have reportedly requested an interview with Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, per NFL Network’s Peter Schrager.

Anarumo just wrapped up Year 4 in his coordinator role with a loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship on Sunday, a position he’s held since 2019. Cincinnati is coming off back-to-back AFC Championship games and a Super Bowl berth last year.

Defensively, the Bengals were tied for fifth in the league in points allowed (20.1 per game) in 2022 and seventh in rushing yards given up (106.6 per game).

Anarumo got his NFL coaching start as a defensive backs coach with the Miami Dolphins from 2012-17. He was also named interim DC in 2015.

After his stint in Miami, Anarumo was named the New York Giants DBs coach in 2018. He stayed in New York for just one season before joining Cincinnati.

Dan Quinn, Cowboys DC

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has told interested teams he is staying on as DC under head coach Mike McCarthy, who on Thursday also relieved several assistants from his staff, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

The Cardinals reportedly held two interviews with Quinn for Arizona’s head-coaching vacancy, according to Pelissero.

Pelissero adds that the team was flying Quinn on Tuesday night.

Quinn conducted his first interview with Arizona virtually on Saturday, according to Pelissero.

Quinn got his NFL coaching start as a quality control coach with the 49ers from 2001-02 before taking over as the team’s defensive line coach from 2003-04. He held the same position with the Miami Dolphins (2005-06) and New York Jets (2007-08).

From there, Quinn took a job with the Seattle Seahawks where he served as the team’s DL coach and was assistant head coach to Jim Mora from 2009-10.

Quinn spent two seasons in Seattle before heading to the college ranks as Florida’s defensive coordinator and defensive line coach from 2011-12.

He would eventually make his way back to the NFL, signing on with the Seahawks as the team’s defensive coordinator under Pete Carroll.

Quinn helped produce one of the toughest defenses in the NFL during that span and was a part of Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII run.

After yet another two-season stint with the Seahawks, Quinn was handed the keys to the Atlanta Falcons following his hiring as head coach in 2015.

Quinn was with Atlanta from 2015-20, posting a 43-42 record that included a Super Bowl LI loss to the New England Patriots before he was fired amid an 0-5 start to 2020.

During his time with the Falcons, Quinn posted two seasons with double digit wins and took home the NFC South title once.

He then joined the Cowboys in 2021 as their defensive coordinator.

Frank Reich, former Colts head coach

Despite interviewing with the Arizona Cardinals on Jan. 17, Frank Reich is being hired by the Carolina Panthers, the team announced Thursday.

Reich marked Arizona’s first reported head-coaching interview in their search.

Reich was most recently the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2018-22 before getting fired on Nov. 7.

In his first head-coaching stop, he went 40-33-1 for a .555 winning percentage to go along with a 1-2 playoff record.

The one playoff win was in his lone season with quarterback Andrew Luck, who unexpectedly retired during the preseason in 2019.

Before that, Reich won Super Bowl LII with the Philadelphia Eagles as an offensive coordinator, where he served in that position from 2016-17.

Other stops in Reich’s coaching career featured the San Diego Chargers from 2013-15, where served as the offensive coordinator (2014-15) and quarterbacks coach (2013).

He was also the Cardinals wide receivers coach in 2012 under then-head coach Ken Wisenhunt after being the Colts wide receivers coach in 2011, quarterbacks coach from 2009-10, offensive coaching staff assistant in 2008 and coaching intern from 2006-07.

In the entirety of Reich’s coaching tenure, he has been the position coach, coordinator or head coach of Hall of Famer Peyton Manning (2006-11), WR Larry Fitzgerald (2012), QB Phillip Rivers (2013-15) and Luck (2018).

Brian Flores, Steelers senior assistant

Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, a current assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers, is expected to interview with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday, according to Albert Breer.

CBS’ Jonathan Jones was the first to report the in-person interview, while NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was first to report that he received a request to interview for the team’s opening at head coach.

Flores has already interviewed for the Cleveland Browns’ defensive coordinator vacancy.

Flores was fired by the Dolphins in January 2022 after posting a 24-25 record over three years from 2019-21. Miami went 9-8 in its second straight winning season for 2021, though, failed to make the playoffs during Flores’ tenure.

Before his time in Miami, Flores was a long-time staffer under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots. He coached special teams, safeties and linebackers from 2008-18.

Flores’ tenure in New England also included working as a scouting assistant in 2004-05 and a pro scout in 2006-07.

Following his firing from the Dolphins, Flores filed a lawsuit alleging racial hiring practices for coaches and GMs in February 2022, seeking class-action status and damages from the NFL, the Dolphins, the Houston Texans, the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants, along with unnamed individuals.

Former Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks was named as an example in the lawsuit and joined it last April along with fellow NFL assistant Ray Horton, whose complaint was regarding the Tennessee Titans.

Aaron Glenn, Lions DC

The Cardinals have reportedly set Saturday for an in-person interview with Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn for Arizona’s head-coaching vacancy, according to CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport was first to report the interview would take place Saturday, while NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero was the first to report the interview request.

The news comes on the same day the team reportedly conducted an interview with in-house candidate and DC Vance Joseph. The Cardinals also reportedly met with former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich for the position on Tuesday.

Aside from the team’s interest in Glenn, Joseph and Reich, the team has also requested permission to interview Broncos DC Ejiro Evero, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive assistant Brian Flores, San Francisco 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans and former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.

Glenn was hired by the Lions in 2021 as the team’s defensive coordinator after spending five seasons as the New Orleans Saints defensive backs coach from 2016-20. He also served as an assistant DBs coach with the Cleveland Browns from 2014-15.

Before his coaching days, Glenn was a personnel scout for the New York Jets from 2012-13 and was the general manager of the Texas Lone Star Football League’s Houston Stallions in 2012.

As a player, the former cornerback had stops at the New York Jets (1994-2001), Houston Texans (2002-04), Dallas Cowboys (2005-06), Jacksonville Jaguars (2007) and New Orleans Saints (2008). He earned three Pro Bowl nods over his career.

Ejiro Evero, Broncos DC

The Cardinals are reportedly interviewing Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero on Friday for Arizona’s head-coaching vacancy, per NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Evero, 42, has never been a head coach at any level, but has been coaching since 2005 and has 15 years of experience in the NFL.

This past season was his first as a defensive coordinator, leading the Broncos to the eighth-ranked defense in total yards allowed at 5,440 — or 320 a game.

Prior to joining Denver, Evero spent four years as the Los Angeles Rams’ safeties coach (2017-20) before winning Super Bowl LVI as the team’s secondary coach and passing game coordinator in 2021.

Other stops in his NFL coaching tenure include the Green Bay Packers as a defensive quality control coach in 2016 after serving as a 49ers defensive assistant in 2014-15, offensive assistant in 2012-13 and quality control coach in 2011.

Evero also had a stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a defensive quality control coach from 2007-09. He got his coaching start as an assistant coach at UC Davis from 2005-06.

Vance Joseph, Cardinals DC

Kingsbury may be gone, but the jury’s still out when it comes down to defensive coordinator Vance Joseph.

Per ESPN’s Dan Graziano, Joseph was set to interview on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

Serving under Kingsbury the past four seasons, Joseph has garnered a lot of respect within the franchise. The familiarity is certainly there.

Arizona’s defense had improved each year under Joseph through his first three seasons at the helm, allowing 27.6 points per game in 2019, 22.9 in 2020 and 21.5 in 2021.

This year, however, was a different story, with the Cardinals allowing 26.4 points per game. Only the Chicago Bears, who finished with the worst record in the league, gave up more points (27.2).

Despite that final tally, Joseph found some consistency in what was supposed to be the team’s weakest link even with a plethora of key injuries and an offense that did the unit zero favors.

Joseph knows a little about being an NFL head coach, too.

Before taking his coordinator role with the Cardinals in 2019, Joseph was the Denver Broncos’ lead man for two seasons (2017-18) before his firing.

Denver went 11-21 under Joseph and struggled mightily to find a starting quarterback.

Joseph also split head-coaching duties with special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers when Kingsbury missed the team’s 2020 matchup against the Browns due to COVID-19. The Cardinals didn’t miss a beat in the matchup, winning 34-14.

Arizona Cardinals TE Trey McBride warms up ahead of practice on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury smiles during practice on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury smiles during practice on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals QB David Blough (left) and WR Hollywood Brown (right) smile during practice on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR A.J. Green runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR Javon Wims runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR A.J. Green runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR A.J. Green and the rest of the team's wideouts run through drills during practice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals DE J.J. Watt looks on during practice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals DE J.J. Watt runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports) Arizona Cardinals WR Pharoh Cooper runs through drills during practice on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

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