TEMPE, Ariz. -- Keeping a staff together for two consecutive seasons in the NFL is a rare occurrence these days.
With about a half-dozen head coaching jobs seemingly open every January, new hires want to bring their friends on board, which leads to poaching from other staffs.
After the season, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he hoped to keep his staff together heading into 2014. That nearly didn’t happen. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles interviewed with the Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings to be their head coaches. Neither opportunity materialized, as Bowles pulled his name out of the running in Cleveland and the Vikings hired Mike Zimmer.
So the Cardinals will head into next season with their entire coaching staff the same as it was when the 2013 season finished. How rare is it, especially in Arizona? The last time it happened was after the 2007 season when Ken Whisenhunt kept his staff in tact after his first season in Arizona.
All that happened in 2008 was the Cardinals went to their first Super Bowl. While it wasn’t the main factor, having the same staff for a second straight year certainly helped. And that’s what the Cardinals will get in 2014.
These coaches saw the growth of their charges throughout the year, especially on offense. Quarterback guru Tom Moore will have an entire offseason to break down Carson Palmer and rebuild him. Receivers coach Darryl Drake will be able to help Michael Floyd grow even more. Stump Mitchell, the running backs coach can help Andre Ellington mature into an every-down back.
And then there’s the big picture.
The offense will be able to build on the second half of 2013, and that growth will be expedited because the same position coaches who were at practice every day will spend the offseason breaking down film, using their intimate knowledge of their players to tweak and alter plays and schemes to better fit the Cardinals. It’ll only make them better. Arians, who calls the offensive plays, will be able to add more layers to the offense, which will be easily done because the coaching staff knows their players capabilities.
Having defensive coordinator Todd Bowles back means the defense will just keep on improving. He already owns the top rush defense and during the offseason he can focus on improving the secondary.
The biggest issue heading into the 2014 season will be learning the new players who will replace most of the 16 free agents. Fitting them into the scheme will be easier when the coaching staff is the same. New players with new coaches is a recipe for taking steps back.
There won’t be any restarting done in 2014. No introductions. It’ll just be a continuation of this past season. And maybe, just maybe, that means a Super Bowl is in the forecast. It is in Arizona after all.