DAN BICKLEY

Cardinals’ hiring of GM Monti Ossenfort is sign of progress, step in right direction

Jan 17, 2023, 6:57 PM

Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort speaks with reporters during his introductory press conference...

Arizona Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort speaks with reporters during his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, in Tempe. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

The Cardinals have an extensive shopping list. They need a new culture. They need internal discipline. They need public accountability. They need an identity. They need a plan.

They need a new offense. They need a tough-love mentor to fix our quarterback. They need a new offensive line and a new mouthpiece ambassador to replace J.J. Watt.

The hiring of Monti Ossenfort as the new general manager is a sign of progress and a step in the right direction. It proves that owner Michael Bidwill is not afraid to open his organization to outsiders, handing a high level of control to a fresh set of eyes.

Ossenfort has paid his dues. He has Patriot pedigree, Super Bowl rings and the perspective that comes from working for more than one NFL organization. But really, this is more about us.

Ossenfort’s appointment on Tuesday marked the first time in 30 years that the Cardinals had hired a general manager from outside the building, a weird trend that needed to come to an end. It was essential that Bidwill make an external hire to prove he was still serious about football, and that box has been checked. And in the end, Ossenfort will strain to do worse than his successor, at least when it comes to the NFL draft, the lifeblood of any franchise.

Ossenfort also showed up in Arizona with a preferred head coach. We just don’t know his name yet. But Ossenfort would’ve had to make his preference known while laying out his vision for the Cardinals. Surely, Bidwill demanded as much during the interview.

Ossenfort’s hiring raised speculation surrounding former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who was 19-14 in his final two seasons in Miami, the rare Bill Belichick protégé who actually resembled an impact coach. Flores also worked with Ossenfort in New England and would represent the usual pendulum swing that accompanies the firing of a lax players’ coach.

Flores is a no-nonsense guy who demands punctuality and wouldn’t tolerate Murray and Hollywood Brown showing up late to meetings. He would provide the hard hand that Bidwill is obviously looking for. He would be an upgrade and a stark contrast to Kliff Kingsbury. He would check many boxes in Arizona, a place where overreaction is sorely needed.

But Flores doesn’t solve the issue of Murray. Not like Sean Payton would, a high-impact coach who already knows how to maximize Murray’s unharnessed talents. But if the Cardinals were truly interested in hiring Payton, wouldn’t they have interviewed him before hiring a general manager? Wouldn’t they have dangled full control of the roster?

Alas, Ossenfort’s hiring seems to mark the end of the Payton pipe dream. But Payton hasn’t cornered the market on talent, intelligence, charisma and vision. And if the new GM is smart enough to have negotiated real control over the team he is now building, then he is smart enough to know what the 2023 Cardinals need the most.

A real leader at the top.

Dan Bickley

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