Saturday, January 19, 2013

Arizona is still Pittsburgh West and Cleveland is still Cleveland

After parting ways with head coach (and former Steelers offensive coordinator) Ken Whisenhunt, the Arizona Cardinals search for a replacement finally ended this week when they hired former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians as head coach. Now, it's been no secret that I wasn't a fan of the way Arians called the offense when he was here, but he proved his worth this year with Indianapolis when Chuck Pagano missed half the season to receive treatment for cancer.

Upon the news, Gerry Dulac was already fawning all over Arians on Twitter, but that's really nothing new. Are we sure that Arians can't take Dulac to Arizona with him?

I'll be honest, this is a great opportunity for Bruce, and best of luck to him. However, for as "hot" of a name as Arians was heading into the offseason coaching searches, he was the last of 7 head coaches hired. Additionally, back when he was offensive coordinator of the Steelers he had a grand total of 0 head coaching interviews after the 2008 or 2010 seasons. Is the lore around Bruce Arians that has been drummed up by the local and national media greater than he actually is as a coach? We'll find out pretty fast because there is no one in Arizona that even closely resembles Ben Roethlisberger or Andrew Luck.

With Arizona's hire of Arians, reports out of Tempe were that Cardinals defensive coordinator (and former Steelers defensive backs coach) Ray Horton was livid with management and requested out of his contract. The Cardinals eventually did release Horton who has signed on with the Cleveland Browns to be their defensive coordinator. Which brings me to Cleveland....

The Browns were reportedly very interested in Chip Kelly then wound up signing Rob Chudzinski, the offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers, to be their head coach. Hardly an over-whelming hire, but Cleveland did themselves a favor and brought in Norv Turner to be the offensive coordinator (and now Horton to be the DC). The new ownership, led by former Steelers minority owner Jimmy Haslam seemed to be moving the organization on the path to respectability. But they are Cleveland after all, and it was only a matter of time until they did a very Cleveland thing.

That happened today when they announced former NFL Network on-air personality Michael Lombardi as their director of player personnel. This is a position that Lombardi has held before with both Cleveland in the 90s and Oakland in the early 2000s. What makes this the quintessential Cleveland move is when you consider Lombardi's draft day accomplishments:
  • From 1992 to 1995 as Cleveland's Director of Player Personnel in charge of all scouting, talent evaluation and personnel decisions, he drafted a grand total of 0 players that made the Pro Bowl (out of 30 draft picks).
  • In the 1994 draft he traded up to the 29th pick to select Derek Alexander (WR-Michigan). Isaac Bruce went 4 picks later to the Rams.
  • As Oakland's Director of Player Personnel and chief personnel adviser to Al Davis, he selected Sebastian Janikowski in the first round of the draft. Chad Pennington and Shaun Alexander were the next two players off the board.
  • His most infamous accomplishment might have been in the 2007 draft when he selected Jamarcus Russell over Calvin Johnson with the #1 overall pick.
So at the end of the day, despite bringing in a former Steelers owner, Cleveland is still Cleveland. And that's a good thing for us. A very, very good thing.

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