Originally Published: January 19, 2018 10:50 p.m.
PHOENIX — Back when Bruce Arians announced his retirement, Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill said he would be in no rush to find a new coach.
He pointed out that Arians was the last coach hired in 2013.
But while the Cardinals have followed their methodical, and quite secretive, process, the pool of potential candidates has dwindled.
Two, according to multiple reports, are taking other head coaching jobs — Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur with the New York Giants and New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia with the Detroit Lions. Another, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak, publicly declined a second interview with Arizona.
“The timing for my family was not appropriate for me to pursue this potential opportunity,” he said in a statement this week, “but I am very excited with the decision to remain with the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
That leaves six of the nine initially interviewed by Bidwill and general manager Steve Keim: Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores, Cardinals defensive coordinator James Boettcher and Atlanta Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong.
Bidwill wants second interviews with the finalists and wants the candidates to come to Arizona to see the team’s training facility and stadium.
But Schwartz, DeFilippo and Flores can’t talk again until next week because their teams are still in the playoffs.
Armstrong was to have a second interview in Arizona on Friday. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn confirmed Armstrong’s second interview, initially reported by NFL Network.
“He is terrifically qualified to lead a team,” Quinn said at his season-ending news conference on Thursday. “And I’ve thought this for a long time.”
Wilks also had a second interview in Arizona on Friday, the Arizona Republic reported. He was interviewed Thursday for the vacant head coaching job in Tennessee.
Recruiting a new coach in Arizona is made more difficult by the fact the Cardinals have no established quarterback following the retirement of Carson Palmer. There’s also uncertainty about the return of wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the impact the coaching choice will have on the star receiver’s decision.
The rest of the Cardinals’ receiving corps is thin. Whoever takes the job will join an NFC West where the other three teams are set at quarterback — Jared Goff in Los Angeles, Russell Wilson in Seattle and, now, Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco.
The Cardinals do have a strong returning defense and will have one of the NFL’s best running backs in David Johnson, who will be back from a broken wrist, an injury that occurred in the 2017 opener and sidelined him the rest of the season.