Arizona Cardinals Must Keep On Winning To Retain Todd Bowles


Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles did a fantastic job of turning the his defense into a physical, run-stopping force to be reckoned with. Last year, the Cardinals were No. 1 against the run.

This year, with injuries and absences to important starters such as defensive end Darnell Dockett, inside linebacker Daryl Washington and outside linebacker John Abraham, the Cardinals struggled to get consistent pass rush, and as a result, a lot of yards were given up. Bowles, meanwhile, did a fantastic job of adjusting as the Cardinals were fifth in fewest points allowed on defense.

Teams can interview head-coaching candidates during the playoffs, but can’t hire them away until their team is eliminated from the playoffs.

Dec 7, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles against the Kansas City Chiefs at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Chiefs 17-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What makes Bowles such a useful candidate is the Rooney Rule, where a team has to interview a minority candidate before it can hire its next head coach. Bowles is more than qualified already because of his job in Arizona and his previous interim head coaching experience in Miami after the Dolphins fired Tony Sparano back in 2011.

Teams may have a specific candidate in mind to hire, but may only interview Bowles to satisfy the Rooney Rule. As of now, the San Francisco 49ers and the Atlanta Falcons have expressed interest in interviewing Bowles.

The good news for Arizona is that this isn’t a year with a lot of head coaching vacancies such as 2014, when there were eight head coaching vacancies. The New York Jets, the Falcons, 49ers, the Oakland Raiders and the Chicago Bears are the only teams with head coaching vacancies.

Teams such as the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins, the Jacksonville Jaguars. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Tennessee Titans elected to retain their head coaches.

Candidates such as Seattle Seahawks defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are head coaching candidates that could be hired. All of those coordinators are in the playoffs right now.

Former head coaches Rex Ryan and Mike Shanahan have been mentioned as possible head coaching candidates too. Shanahan was Jay Cutler’s head coach during their tenure together in Denver from 2006-2008, so it could be possible that Cutler gets to reunite with Shanahan in Chicago. Ryan, who was just fired by the Jets on Monday, is interviewing with the 49ers and the Falcons, according to columnist Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

For Arizona, starting in the Wild Card round on the road against the Carolina Panthers, they must win in the postseason to increase the chance of retaining Bowles. The Cards must also win in the divisional round to have even more of a chance to keep Bowles.

Current Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt, as offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers, interviewed for the Detroit Lions head coaching vacancy last year before the Chargers divisional contest against the Denver Broncos. After the loss to Denver, he was hired by the Titans.

If Bowles is interested in becoming a head coach this year, the best case scenario for Arizona is to reach the NFC Championship game, and to have other teams fill up its vacancies during the next two weeks.