The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

January 3, 2013

Cardinals get OK to interview Haley

TEMPE, Ariz. — With Andy Reid no longer in the picture, the Arizona Cardinals have received permission to interview Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Todd Haley for their head coaching job, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person asked not to be identified because the situation has not been made public.

Haley, former head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, was offensive coordinator for Arizona in the Cardinals' Super Bowl run in the 2008 season and has a good relationship with Cardinals President Michael Bidwill.

Bidwill had identified Reid as a candidate earlier this week but the longtime Philadelphia coach, fired by the Eagles on Monday, was close to finalizing a deal to coach the Chiefs and called off all other interviews.

The other known candidates for the Arizona job are Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

The formal interview for Horton was conducted Tuesday and Wednesday. McCoy is to be interviewed in Denver this weekend. Horton also interviewed with Buffalo and Cleveland and McCoy is believed to have interest from other teams, as well.

The window to interview McCoy is narrow because the Broncos are in the playoffs but have a bye this week.

Other candidates are most likely in the picture for the Cardinals, although no names have surfaced. The interview timetable suggests no decision until next week, at the earliest. The Cardinals also are looking for a new general manager to replace the fired Rod Graves. Steve Keim, the team's vice president for player personnel, is a leading candidate.

Bidwill emphasized at his Monday news conference that his search "is not going to move at lightning speed."

"And you don't want it to," he said, "because you learn a lot during your due diligence period."

Bidwill fired Ken Whisenhunt after six seasons as coach. Whisenhunt directed the Cardinals to their only Super Bowl appearance in his second season and Arizona won its second straight NFC West title the following year. But this season's team, after a 4-0 start, lost 11 of 12 to finish 5-11 for the second time in three seasons. While the defense under Horton was among the NFL leaders in several categories, Arizona's offense was the worst in the NFL.

Perhaps that's why two of the three known candidates for Whisenhunt's old job have offensive credentials — Haley and McCoy.

Haley was the coordinator of the high-scoring Cardinals team that made it to the Super Bowl, combining with quarterback Kurt Warner to create one of the NFL's most entertaining offenses. Haley's emotional nature was apparent to everyone, even with occasional sidelines shouting matches with Warner, who shrugged them off as no big deal and just part of the way the team operated.

Haley's success in Arizona led to his hiring as head coach of the Chiefs in 2009. In his second season with Kansas City, the Chiefs went 10-6 and won the AFC West. But he was fired after the team went 5-8 in 2011.

In February of last year, Haley returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh as coach Mike Tomlin's offensive coordinator. He had a sometimes bumpy relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who apologized after criticizing Haley in the aftermath of a late-season overtime loss to Dallas.

McCoy has been the Broncos' offensive coordinator since 2009. In 2011, he tweaked the offense to adapt to quarterback Tim Tebow, then went back to his usual approach when the team signed Peyton Manning. The result has been an offense that propelled Denver to a 13-3 record and a first-round playoff bye.

Horton, whose coaching background is entirely on defense, told reporters after his two-day interview was completed with Arizona on Wednesday that he was not concerned about being pigeonholed as a defensive coach only.

"I think I'm a coach of men," he said. "I talk about a plan to build a team. I don't talk about 'Hey, I can build this offense or this defense and good luck with the rest of the team.' Whether you're an offensive coach, you've got to have a defensive guy who can do something on that side. It all blends together. I think that's a zero issue."

___

Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

 

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