Cardinals focused on big-picture fit when it comes to next head coach

Jan 17, 2023, 8:40 PM | Updated: 9:09 pm
Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill and general manager Monti Ossenfort pose for a photo during...
Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill and general manager Monti Ossenfort pose for a photo during the GM's introductory press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)
(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

TEMPE — The Arizona Cardinals checked a big box off the to-do list on Monday with the hiring of general manager Monti Ossenfort.

Now, with the new GM in tow, the attention turns squarely to finding Arizona’s answer at head coach.

Moving away from former head coach Kliff Kingsbury after four seasons at the helm, the Cardinals are in search for a leader of men who shares the same thinking as the franchise.

“I think the key is that we find the head coach that is right for this team,” Ossenfort said. “There are many ways of doing things and I think finding a head coach that aligns with the way I see building a team and the way Michael sees building an organization. Then there’s the specifics in terms of leadership in developing players and coaches, in being a teacher of fundamentals, details and techniques.

“We’re trying to build a sustainable program here. This is not a short-term fix, so we want a coach that sees the big picture and understands that we’re not happy with just the results of 2023. We’re building this for extended championship teams as we move forward.”

Ossenfort and owner Michael Bidwill have gotten right to work since the GM’s arrival to the desert on Monday night.

Hours after Ossenfort’s introductory press conference, it was reported that Arizona had conducted an interview with former Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich.

Even before the new GM was named, Arizona had already requested interviews with San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive assistant Brian Flores. In-house option and defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is also under consideration for the position.

Coincidentally, Ossenfort and Flores have crossed paths in their NFL careers.

From 2008-18, the two were members on Bill Belichick’s staff in New England, leading many to connect the dots between Arizona’s head-coaching vacancy and Ossenfort’s former co-worker in Flores.

But while the connection is there between Flores and Ossenfort, the same can’t be said for Payton.

“I have watched from afar and have seen the success,” Ossenfort said. “Sean Payton is a phenomenal coach, he’s had a lot of success in this league, but I have not crossed paths with him.”

As for who is leading the search now that Ossenfort has taken over the reins at GM, it’ll be a collaborative effort with Bidwill and other members of the franchise.

“Michael and others in the organization have names, I have names,” Ossenfort said. “We’re all going to sit down and talk this through together.

“This is an exciting process that we’re all going to be involved in and ultimately, we’re going to find the right head coach that shares the vision and philosophies that we want this Arizona Cardinals team to look like.”

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