While coach Andy Reid and GM Tom Heckert try to forcibly take over an NFL franchise one city at a time, the Arizona Cardinals are establishing backup plans in case Reid and Heckert are given the Kansas City Chiefs job.
Evidently, one of Arizona's contingency plans involves Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Rumors have circulated about Haley's candidacy for the job for a while, but rumor became fact as news broke out of Cardinal territory Thursday morning of a request being made to the Steelers toward speaking with Haley. Later, Albert Breer confirmed that the Steelers had granted permission for the interview to take place.
The Bidwell Family, Arizona's ownership, has always held Haley in high esteem since his days as offensive coordinator during their most successful run in franchise history, culminated in a Super Bowl appearance -- a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Some feel the Bidwells either developed a love affair with the Steelers organization over that loss, or took it with bitter distaste as the Cardinals have snatched up unemployed, former Steelers ever since. Ken Whisenhunt, Russ Grimm, and Ray Horton were the heads of the coaching Hydra, up until Monday when Whisenhunt and Grimm were fired with the rest of Arizona's offensive coaching staff. Former Steelers regulars have suited up for the Cardinals, including: Joey Porter and Clark Haggans, Alan Faneca and Deshea Townsend, and Bryant McFadden and William Gay.
Truth be told, Arizona had, and still has, a young roster. They were in desperate need of veteran experience and leadership. Pittsburgh had rosters full of enviable wisdom for years, and it was completely understandable why the Cardinals would covet the Steelers castaways. However, Haley is not a cast away. In fact, Haley's interview has very little to do with his ties both vocationally, and personally, to Pittsburgh and its football team.
Arizona's offense is in shambles. Quarterbacks Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, and Ryan Lindley were inconsistent and unsatisfactory as the Cardinal offensive line provided no protection. Even former Steelers quarterback Brian Hoyer started the Cardinal's final game. Larry Fitzgerald, arguably one of the most gifted receivers to ever play the game, has seen his statistics fall to mediocrity as Arizona continues to seek replacements for Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston. A young, capable defense kept many games within reach in 2012, but the offense was unable to overcome its own shortcomings. The Cardinals feel Haley is the type of leader who can bring their players together, and push them to their potential.
Haley was not Arizona's only option, as they patiently waited to interview Reid on Thursday, which has now been cancelled. They have also scheduled interviews with defensive coordinator Horton, and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. While the Bidwell's do speak well of Haley, Reid still seemed to be their top choice. ESPN began reporting that Reid and the Chiefs were close to a deal, though Reid remained adamant that he would interview with the Cardinals and Chargers before making any decisions. Reid has since cancelled his trips to Arizona and San Diego, as he gets closer to signing with the Chiefs.
Haley spoke about his feelings on the situation before any requests were made or approved. He certainly didn't sound like a man who felt any inkling of making a change in his life, however once the numbers are spelled out, sentimental feelings and enjoyment may get tossed out the window.
If Haley ends up receiving an offer and accepting it, the Steelers will have to find their third offensive coordinator in as many seasons; an unexpected blow to an already reeling offensive unit.