The Cardinals are going to think Dallas when it comes to defense.
Clancy Pendergast, named Arizona’s new defensive coordinator Thursday, spent last season as Cleveland’s linebackers coach. But before that he was a Cowboys assistant for seven seasons, and said that was what piqued the interest of Cardinals coach Dennis Green.
“I think (Green) was obviously interested in this style and scheme,” said Pendergast, who had no previous relationship with Green. “That’s what he expressed to me when he called me about the job.”
Pendergast will have a difficult job taking over a defense that was last in the league in points allowed and 26th in total defense. The Cardinals have ranked near the bottom of NFL in defense for the past four seasons.
Pendergast, 36, grew up in Phoenix and went to Tolleson High School and the University of Arizona.
“Obviously it is icing on the cake to have an opportunity to come back to where you grew up,” Pendergast said. “But to be a coordinator in the NFL and working with coach Green is the most important thing.”
The Cardinals announced four other hires Thursday: linebackers coach Frank Bush, who was in Denver this season; receivers coach Robert Ford, just replaced in Miami by ex-Cardinals coach Jerry Sullivan; offensive line coach Bob Wylie, who was with the Bears; and defensive line coach Don “Deek” Pollard, who last coached in 1999 at Syracuse University.
Some of the team’s assistants will leave as early as today for Mobile, Ala., for a week at the Senior Bowl.
Pendergast, who will run a 4-3 defense, said his defense will be based on speed and an attacking style.
He admitted he wasn’t that familiar yet with the personnel, especially the much-maligned defensive line. When asked about underachieving first-round picks such as Wendell Bryant and Calvin Pace, Pendergast said they needed to be evaluated to figure out “how their abilities best fit what we are going to try and get done here.”
Pollard, 64, is supposed to help in that area, although he hasn’t coached in the NFL since spending a pair of seasons with the Rams in 1995 and 1996. Pollard, who has spent time in college coaching and the USFL, first was an NFL assistant in 1979 with the New York Giants.
Ford, 52, spent six seasons with the Dolphins and has logged 13 seasons in the NFL. Bush, 40, spent nine years in Denver, five of those as linebackers coach, although the past three seasons he was their special teams coach. Wylie, 52, spent the past five seasons as the offensive line coach in Chicago.
The Cardinals still need to hire a special teams coach, a quarterbacks coach and a tight ends coach.