PHOENIX — The Arizona Cardinals’ list of potential coaches lost a name when the San Diego Chargers hired Mike McCoy.
Now the Cardinals are going to take a look at Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, reportedly setting up an interview with the man who provided the game plan that led to the Seahawks’ 58-0 victory over Arizona.
The other known candidates to replace the fired Ken Whisenhunt are Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
With the exception of Horton, the candidates are rooted in offense and that’s the Cardinals’ area of greatest need. Arizona had the worst offense in the NFL last season.
Bevell, who also is in the running for the Chicago Bears’ job, played a key role in the development of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. The tandem of Bevell and Wilson, who both played college ball at Wisconsin, helped the Seahawks’ offense become more potent as the season progressed.
Seattle put together an impressive rally before losing 30-28 at Atlanta in the NFC semifinals last weekend.
Bevell, 43, has local roots. He grew up in Scottsdale, and attended Chaparral High. He spent a redshirt freshman season at Northern Arizona before leaving for a two-year Mormon mission. When Bevell returned, he enrolled at Wisconsin and quarterbacked the Badgers to a Rose Bowl victory over UCLA in 1994.
He joined the professional coaching ranks in 2000 as an offensive assistant in Green Bay and was promoted to quarterbacks coach of the Packers three years later. Bevell served as the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings from 2006 to 2010. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll brought him in as offensive coordinator in 2011.
The Cardinals obviously had high interest in McCoy, interviewing him in Denver over the Broncos’ bye weekend in the first round of the playoffs. They wanted a second interview, but were thwarted when the Chargers closed the deal.
It was the second time a would-be candidate was taken away. Cardinals President Michael Bidwill had reached out to fired Philadelphia coach Andy Reid but never even got a chance to interview him because the Kansas City Chiefs moved in quickly to secure an agreement.
Whisenhunt, who has interviewed for several NFL head coaching jobs since his dismissal, was fired by Arizona after six seasons, tied for the longest tenure for a coach in the Cardinals’ long, mostly losing history. He got the team to the Super Bowl in his second season and won a second straight NFC West title the following year, but quarterback Kurt Warner retired and the team’s offense never recovered.
The Cardinals used four quarterbacks this season. Only Kevin Kolb had much success, helping the team to a 4-0 start before going down in week six with what proved to be a season-ending rib injury. Kolb threw for eight touchdowns with three interceptions. The other three QBs — John Skelton, rookie Ryan Lindley, and late-season pickup Brian Hoyer combined for three TDs and 18 picks.
Arizona went six games without a touchdown pass, losing 11 of its last 12 to finish 5-11.
Arizona also fired general manager Rod Graves, promoting Steve Keim, the vice president for player personnel, to fill the vacancy.
Horton, who also interviewed for the jobs in Buffalo and Cleveland before those teams went elsewhere for a coach, has a year left on his contract as defensive coordinator and presumably would return to that job if he doesn’t get the head coaching position.
The Cardinals have confirmed interviews with Horton and Gruden but not with Haley, although Steelers President Art Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the interview did take place.