TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cardinals coach Bruce Arians wasted no time reaching out to former Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau on Monday, two days after he resigned from the Steelers.
Arians may soon be in need of a new defensive coordinator if Todd Bowles should get hired to be a head coach in the next few weeks. But, as ESPN.com’s Scott Brown reported Monday, LeBeau isn’t sold on the idea of moving out West because he’d be far from his family, which is based near Cincinnati.
If the Cardinals want LeBeau but end up losing out on him, it may be to their former coach, current Tennessee Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt.
On Monday night, ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky pointed out that Nashville is less than 300 miles from Cincinnati. That’s a short plane ride or a morning drive. And like LeBeau has with Arians, he has a relationship with Whisenhunt from their Steelers days.
LeBeau’s first three years in his second stint with the Steelers, 2004-06, overlapped with Whisenhunt’s tenure as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator. But LeBeau’s ties to the Titans go beyond Whisenhunt. LeBeau was Tennessee defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s defensive backs coach with the Bengals as a rookie in 1983 and then his defensive coordinator until 1988. Later, when Horton was an assistant in Cincinnati from 1997-2002, LeBeau was his defensive coordinator from 1997-99 and the head coach from 2000-01. LeBeau and Horton were reunited in Pittsburgh from 2004-10.
While LeBeau has longstanding and personal connections to Whisenhunt and Horton, it’s unlikely that Whisenhunt would demote Horton to make LeBeau the defensive coordinator. LeBeau could become a consultant or fill a role similar to Tom Moore in Arizona but as the assistant head coach/defense.
In Arizona, LeBeau would have the defensive coordinator’s job to himself.
There are two reasons, however, why LeBeau may decide the distance is worth it: He would be joining a winning team that made the playoffs but saw its defense struggle late in the season and he’d be coming into a situation with a ready-made defense that only needs a few tweaks to be among the league's elite.
It’s hard to keep a man away from his family, which may land LeBeau in the Music City, but another shot at the Super Bowl at age 77 would be more realistic in the desert.