The window of opportunity for NFL teams to interview Super Bowl bound coaches for head coaching positions closes on Sunday. In case you've been living under a rock (even then...), you've heard that the Arizona Cardinals are headed to Tampa for the Super Bowl in about a week and a half.
The Cardinals offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, has been the hot topic of conversation here for the last few days. Adam Schefter of NFL.com floated Haley's name first in reference to the Chiefs' head coaching position and Cris Collinsworth of NBC Sports said yesterday that he expects Haley to become the next head coach in Kansas City. woodman212 has a FanPost up consolidating Haley discussion so make sure you check that out too to see what people have to say.
Below is some info on Russ Grimm, Clancy Pendergast and Todd Haley. If Haley is hired as head coach of the Chiefs, Grimm and Pendergast are two coaches that could be in the red and gold in '09. And of course, we'll deliver even more detailed info in that case. Keep these guys in mind as you watch the Super Bowl.
Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line
Experience: 17 years as a coach, 11 years as a player
Russ Grimm was a guard for the Washington Redskins for 11 years before catching on as a coach for 8 years with the 'Skins. He was hired by Bill Cowher in 2001 to become the Steelers offensive line coach. By 2004 he was promoted to assistant head coach, the only person to have that title under Cowher.
How have his offensive lines fared? In his 7 years as offensive line coach for the Steelers, the team ranked 4th, 1st, 9th, 31st, 2nd, 5th and 10th in the league in rushing, respectively.
When Steelers head coach Bill Cowher retired in January 2007, Grimms' name was in consideration for the Steelers head coaching position, along with then Pittsburgh OC Ken Whisenhunt and DC Mike Tomlin.
Once Tomlin was hired as head coach of the Steelers, Grimm followed Ken Whisenhunt to the Arizona Cardinals.
Finally, something tells me Grimm would really enjoy tailgating in KC. From a teammate's memoir:
"I iced down a keg of beer and stationed it on the landing between the first floor and basement. Russ turned the landing into his headquarters for the evening. He grabbed a chair and a Hog shot glass (a 60-ounce pitcher) and parked his butt on the landing next to the keg. Except for an occasional trip to the bathroom, we didn't see Russ on the first level all night..."
Grimm would be a welcome addition to the Chiefs coaching staff.
Experience: 14 years
Clancy Pendergast quickly upgraded the Cardinals defense when he arrived 5 years ago. The defensive ranking got as high as 8th in the NFL while helping develop stars such as Adrian Wilson, Bertrand Berry and Darnell Dockett.
Per the Cardinals official site:
Pendergast's coaching dossier includes 13 seasons in the NFL including stints with the Cleveland Browns (2003), Dallas Cowboys (1996-2002), and the Houston Oilers (1995) and five more seasons on the major college level.
Pendergast is one of two assistants that Whisenhunt chose to retain when he became head coach of the Cardinals (there's your Steelers connection, Mr. Hunt). His resume isn't relatively strong but I will give him the benefit of the doubt because he was working in Arizona.
His defenses ranked (in overall yards allowed) 12th, 8th, 29th, 17th and 19th respectively while he's been a Cardinal. Not impressive until you look at the Cardinals previous five years of defensive ranks: 22nd, 32nd, 28th, 29th and 26th.
Pnedergast deserves credit for improvement but he is not a "Wow" candidate by any means. Not that that is necessarily bad. In fact, one of Pioli's distinct professional qualities is not chasing the big whale candidate or player.
Whether or not sir eccles "called" the Chiefs interest in Haley, his attraction as a head coach is undeniable.
From 1995 to 2000, Haley was the wide receivers coach for the New York Jets. He held the same position with the Bears from 2001 to 2004 before heading to Dallas as the wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator.
In 2007, Haley took over an Arizona offense that had been in the bottom half of the league in points scored for nearly a decade. In '07 and '08, the Cardinals' offense ranked 7th and 3rd in points scored.
Haley's upper level coaching experience is limited but perfectly in line with the "younger" coach fad that's sweeping the NFL. A Pioli personnel plan coupled with Haley's offensive prowess with whoever he would have as offensive coordinator sounds like a winning formula.
Probably more so than his resume is Haley's "pedigree' that makes him an attractive KC head coaching candidate. The KC Star fills us in:
He’s a Bill Parcells disciple with long-ago connections to Scott Pioli. Haley and Pioli were together in the 1990s with the Jets, Parcells and Belichick. When Parcells and Belichick split, Pioli went with Belichick to New England and Haley remained loyal to Parcells.
It's becoming increasingly clear that whoever is hired as the Chiefs head coach, you can bet there is a Pioli/Parcells connection in there somewhere.