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The Arizona Cardinals have both a public and private mess that now requires the attention of a grown-up to come in and clean it up.
Jim Caldwell has been out of football since 2019. The Cardinals need to call him.
The former Detroit Lions coach, who interviewed with the Cardinals before the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury, could be just what the doctor ordered for this sputtering organization. As seen in the team’s back-to-back year-end collapses, not to mention the current disconnect with franchise quarterback Kyler Murray, the Cardinals desperately need a stabilizing presence in their locker room.
By all accounts, Caldwell is just that.
A Tony Dungy disciple, Caldwell has nearly 20 years of NFL experience to go along with his eye-opening .554 winning percentage as a head coach. The 67-year-old Wisconsin native took the Peyton Manning-led Colts to Super Bowl 44 before eventually losing to the New Orleans Saints. Despite his AFC Championship hardware, Caldwell’s most impressive feat may be a four-year stretch in Detroit that included two postseason berths as well as a 36-28 record.
“I think he’s more deserving than any other of these coaches that are out there,” former Colt Dwight Freeney told CBS Radio last month.
“He goes to Detroit and turns around that entire organization. Detroit…playoffs…never were mentioned years prior to him and it’s been years after him and they’re still not even thinking about or smelling the playoffs. That guy turned around that organization and they got rid of him thinking that the grass was greener on the other side.”
After swiftly turning over a losing culture in Motor City, imagine what Caldwell could do for young Murray and the Cardinals. Working with fellow number one overall picks in both Manning and Matthew Stafford, Caldwell would bring instant credibility in the eyes of Murray. Players young and old speak glowingly of this father of four, as Caldwell served as one of the original offensive minds behind Manning’s success in Indy. Bringing Caldwell into the fold to help Murray reach the next level in his career is the exact type of “self-scouting” Kingsbury should be considering right now.
This is someone who, despite his age, could remedy much of what currently ails this Arizona franchise.
It’s clear that Kingsbury could greatly benefit from a seasoned offensive coach by his side, while it’s blatantly obvious that Murray needs a new form of motivation that preferably comes from outside the Cardinals organization. While Kingsbury lacks the necessary credentials and credibility needed to challenge Murray, Caldwell’s resume speaks for itself. Adding Caldwell as a senior offensive advisor (a la Tom Moore with Bruce Arians) or assistant head coach and quarterback coach would give Kingsbury an opportunity to reboot what has now become a predictable act.
It would also give both team president Michael Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim an in-house option to consider should Kingsbury slip up during his fourth season as head man.
While he awaits his long overdue opportunity to again become an NFL head coach, Caldwell could act as the middle man for a franchise struggling to connect with its 24-year-old franchise quarterback. Cleaning up the Cardinals’ public mess isn’t a bad way to pad your resume to the rest of the league as further proof you deserve another shot at the head table.
“He is a guy who will go out and change the culture of a team and get things turned around,” Freeney said.
Sounds like the right man for the job.