Sherman has head coaching experience at the NFL level. The other five men on
the Cardinals list Norm Chow (offensive coordinator, Titans), Ron Rivera
(defensive coordinator, Bears), Jim Caldwell (Assistant Head Coach/Quarterbacks
Coach, Colts), Russ Grimm (Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach, Steelers),
and Ken Whisenhunt (Offensive Coordinator, Steelers), do not. While there's
something to be said for finding that "diamond in the rough," there's a lot more
to be said about experience.
He won three division titles back when the NFC North was a far more
respectable division. While it's true that he had Brett Favre and an awful lot
of talent on both sides of the ball to work with, he'd have Matt Leinart and an
awful lot of talent on both sides of the ball to work with if he took the
He has a longstanding, excellent relationship with Jim Bates, who was (and
probably still is) one of the best defensive coordinators in the league. Bates
ran a system in Green Bay that is similar to the system currently in place under
Clancy Pendergast, but not as complex. The current personnel should be able to
pick up Bates' system relatively easily and Bates is an exceptional motivator.
He comes from the Mike Holmgren coaching tree. I'd assume that he knows a
thing or two about Holmgren's offense, Holmgren's defense, and how Holmgren
works. If the Cardinals are to win the division, they need to get through the
Seattle Seahawks. Sherman and his staff (likely to have some link back to
Holmgren) will have an edge over previous regimes.
He runs a derivation of the West Coast Offense that requires big receivers
that can catch the ball in traffic and use their wide bodies, not their speed,
to separate from defenders. It requires the quarterback to possess more
intelligence than arm strength and excellent footwork. Remind you of any team's
offense in the state of Arizona?
He's a player's coach that understands the modern athlete, has a background
on the offensive side of the ball (where the Cardinals have most of their
talent), and has a tremendous track record of success in other football
I understand that the above sentence sounds an awful lot like a "pro." I'd
like to take this opportunity to point out that Dennis Green is a player's coach
that understands the modern athlete, has a background on the offensive side of
the ball, and had a tremendous track record of success before he came to
Arizona. When a team fires a coach, they generally look for someone that's
entirely different from the guy they just fired. Which is why the Cardinals
will either look for a disciplinarian, a coach with a background in defense, an
assistant with no prior head coaching experience, or someone that meets all
Sherman may not get the job simply because he's too similar to the man he'd
He held the dual titles of Head Coach and General Manager in Green Bay. The
Cardinals just extended the contract of Rod Graves. If Sherman wants control
over personnel decisions, that could be a deal breaker.
The best and worst thing that Mike Sherman has going for him is that he'll be
the first person the Cardinals interview. Interviewing for a head coaching job
in the NFL is a lot like any interview: The first candidate is not always the
one that gets hired. San Diego offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has been added
to the list of candidates, so the Cardinals may speak to up to six other men
before coming to a decision.
When all is said and done, Sherman's the most accomplished candidate
available. Only Mike Martz has more playoff experience, bringing the Rams to
the Super Bowl after the 2001 season. His availability, as well as Tom
Coughlin's availability is in question. Martz may never coach again and
Coughlin may not get fired.
At this point, if the Cardinals are looking for a steady hand to guide the
franchise to the promised land, they can do no better. It remains to be seen,
however, if Sherman simply inherited a talented roster after Holmgren's
departure in Green Bay.
He'll also need to convince the Cardinals that he's ready to coach again,
he's ready to give up some of the control he had in Green Bay, and that he's the
one candidate that can right the ship, rather than take the reins of an already
solid franchise but not lead it to a championship.
I don't know about anyone else, but if I were the Cardinals, I'd take the guy
that could lead this team at least to the playoffs, then talk about Super
Bowl aspirations. Sherman is that guy.