The Arizona Cardinals front office have been “numbed” by the sting of their most egregious coaching decision in recent history. It was only a few months ago when fans heard “It’s a re-tool, not a rebuild.” A promise that has certainly left the Birdgang disappointed and upset. There has been no shortage of requests by the fanbase that head coach Steve Wilks’ time in Arizona is over. This would certainly be an unprecedented feat for the Cardinals, owning up to their mistakes so quickly after just one season. If Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim (if he remains) decide to pull the plug on Wilks, what would be next?
First, the Cardinals front office has to make a decision on how much they value Byron Leftwich. The offense has seen a spark from him, just ask David Johnson.
David Johnson touches per game and yards per touch
With Mike McCoy: 18 touches, 3.98 YPT
With Byron Leftwich: 24.7 touches, 5.91 YPT
Up next: Chargers defense that has Joey Bosa back, but LB Denzel Perryman (knee, IR) and DT Corey Liuget (quad, IR) are done for the season. pic.twitter.com/jxcmglB9z2
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) November 19, 2018
More importantly, Byron’s rapport with rookie Josh Rosen is crucial towards his development. With Rosen going through a large number of coordinators in his college career, it is vital that he sees some stability in his early pro career. So the following scenarios are all going to be revolving around Byron Leftwich staying on the staff in some way.
Case 1: Byron Leftwich promoted to Head Coach.
ANOTHER ROOKIE COACH?! Yes, that part makes me cringe too. But what if I told you that our defense would quickly snap back into 2014 form? A familiar name may very well be looking for a new job this offseason, and his name is Todd Bowles. Bowles led a fierce defense that was well respected in the league, so much so, that the New York Jets brought him in to be their head coach in 2015. A fan favorite for his frequent blitzing schemes, Bowles could very easily reclaim his once prized defense, making Byron’s job that much easier.
Note: This is the #1 way to keep Byron Leftwich in control of the offense.
Case 1.2: Todd Bowles hired as Head Coach, Leftwich remains Offensive Coordinator.
Are you sensing a theme here? The same scenario, but flipped. That way you get Bowles’ 4-year experience as a head coach, paired with Leftwich still running the offense. The question there would be who Bowles brings in as defensive coordinator. Regardless, it would still be the Bowles defense. A plus side here would be that Todd Bowles is familiar with some of the returning defense, notably Patrick Peterson and Deonne Bucannon. Keep in mind, Todd Bowles only had 1 winning season with the Jets as head coach (2015).
Note: There is no guarantee that Bowles would retain Leftwich as OC, though he should.
Case 2/3: Hire a “bigger fish” in Mike McCarthy or John Harbaugh.
With subpar years, both of these coaches have currently found themselves on the 2018 Hot Seat. Both coaches have led their teams to Super Bowl victories. Additionally, both coaches have their flaws ie. game plans and playcalling. What I dislike most about this scenario is that both coaches would likely “clean house” with the staff and maybe even certain players that don’t fit their scheme (contrary to Wilks). But do you really want a coach (McCarthy) that has been so heavily criticized of late? Or another (Harbaugh) that may look to college football?
— NOTSportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) November 26, 2018
Note: You can be almost certain that the ENTIRE staff would be removed and replaced with their preferred staff.
Ultimately, I see it being very difficult for the Arizona Cardinals to fire Steve Wilks only 1 season in. There is a case supporting why you would fire him, ie. an underperforming defense and an unwillingness to play to your personnel. But it is certainly more the “Cardinal Way” to give the guy another year and see if he can’t improve. Buckle up Birdgang, it’s going to be an interesting year.