The Cardinals’ head coaching interview process will begin today, when vice president of football operations Rod Graves and vice president Michael Bidwill meet with Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera in Chicago.
They must visit Rivera because the Bears are in the playoffs. The same goes for Colts assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell, whom Graves and Bidwill will visit in Indianapolis Sunday — the day after the Colts play Kansas City.
A third playoff assistant — Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron — was added to the Cards’ potential coaches list Tuesday. Like Rivera, Cameron must be interviewed by the end of the weekend, and the Cardinals will talk to him Saturday in San Diego.
As for the other candidates, Graves said it is important to bring them to Arizona.
“They are able to see what we have in place here in terms of the team and what we have going on here in terms of our stadium,” Graves said. “It would also be an opportunity for a few of our players to be involved, to get to know the candidates and expressing their thoughts of where we are. All of that would be an asset to us.”
Texans assistant head coach Mike Sherman will visit the team’s Tempe complex Thursday. The Cards are finalizing an interview with Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt for Friday.
Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow will be in Arizona Monday, while Steelers assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm should be in early next week.
It is possible either Whisenhunt or Grimm will soon be off the market. With current Steelers coach Bill Cowher seriously considering stepping down, the organization is reportedly pushing Cowher to make a decision quickly — presumably to elevate either Grimm or Whisenhunt to the top job.
One NFL source said the Steelers are leaning toward hiring Grimm if Cowher does leave.
Chow would seem to be a strong candidate for the Cards, given Chow’s ties to quarterback Matt Leinart. Leinart is close to Chow — who was Leinart’s offensive coordinator at USC — and had hoped to be drafted by Tennessee last year.
Now, Chow has a chance to be reunited with Leinart and as Graves noted Monday, “we certainly thought with (Chow’s) relationship with the quarterback that is going to be the center of our future moving forward, he was someone who should be considered.”
Graves reiterated Tuesday that any coach should work with the core roster in place because the franchise is expecting immediate results much like the Saints and Jets achieved this season.
“There is a balance that we need to be mindful of,” Graves said. “We don’t want to start over with a clean slate. We are looking for someone who can come up with a plan who can move this football team as quickly as possible.”
First up with a chance to put forth a plan is Rivera.
Bears coach Lovie Smith said that, as former Rams coach Mike Martz did for him when Smith was an assistant for St. Louis, he would do everything he could to help Rivera get a head coaching job.
Smith also noted the pressure head coaches are under. Smith was hired the same year the Cardinals hired the nowfired Dennis Green.
“I know we are in situations where people would like to see winners early and late,” Smith said, “and there’s not a lot of room for anything else.”