Seven teams made coaching/GM changes on Monday. The Arizona Cardinals were one of them.
The Cardinals went 5-11 in two of the last three seasons, and change needed to be made. Team president Michael Bidwill made that happen by firing general manager Rod Graves and head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
“Today was a very tough day, but it’s part of the business in the NFL,” Bidwill said.
Arizona was 18-30 over the past three seasons, which are unacceptable numbers, no matter who you have running your team.
“Both of them worked very, very hard, and it was a tough conversation, a tough decision,” Bidwill said. “It came down to wins and losses, and the direction I felt like the team was going, and I just felt like it was time to make a change.”
Bidwill made note of how exceptional the defense has played over the past few seasons. He was also quick to single out the offense for its shortcomings, which ultimately led the team down its current path.
“Our offense seemed to struggle,” Bidwill said. “We needed to focus on improving our offense, and I just didn’t feel like where things stood that the course that we were on was the way to keep going.”
Bidwill has sat back and seen teams in the NFC West get better and better, especially the 49ers and Seahawks, while the Cardinals have seemed to go in the opposite direction, which really irked him judging by the way he talked about it.
“I felt like we’ve got to get back to where we’re competing at the highest level to win the NFC West,” Bidwill said.
Bidwill says it was one of the most difficult decisions and conversations [with Graves and Whisenhunt] that he’s ever had to make and have in his life.
He says it’s been a decision he’s pondered over for the past few weeks and it finally came to a head on Sunday night after the Cardinals 27-13 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco, Calif.
When asked if Whisenhunt was given the option to remain head coach, with a lesser degree of power, Bidwill simply said “No.”
The process of finding a new general manager and head coach has already begun according to Bidwill. He says the organization is in the process of getting permission to speak to various candidates both in college and in the NFL.
Current defensive coordinator Ray Horton will be Bidwill’s first candidate for the head coaching position.
“I’ve already spoken with him and plan to sit down and speak with him and do the formal interview here in the coming days,” Bidwill said.
Bidwill says he’s already reached out to current Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, as well as former Eagles head coach Andy Reid for the head coaching position, and will follow-up with both gentlemen after the holiday/playoffs.
“Certainly, the way this works, it’s not going to move at lightning speed,” Bidwill said. “You don’t want it to, because you learn a lot during your due diligence period.”
To keep things even more in-house, Bidwill will consider current vice president of player personnel Steve Keim for the general manager position. Bidwill didn’t mention any other names beyond Keim for the position.
It’s good to name names, but in the end, Bidwill will find the men he feels are the right ones to lead this organization into the future, back to the playoffs and beyond.
“When you look at the opportunity that we had to get to the Super Bowl, that is something that I want to get back to,” Bidwill said. “I want to get back to winning football. It is a lot more fun to be winning football games and have all that excitement around this organization.”