PHOENIX (AP) Former San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy has been hired as offensive coordinator at Arizona and Al Holcomb is following new Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks from Carolina to be defensive coordinator.
The Cardinals also hired Jeff Rodgers as special teams coordinator. The three hires were announced Friday, just four days after Wilks was hired to replace Bruce Arians, who retired after a franchise-record 50 victories in his five seasons in the desert.
McCoy was offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos for five seasons (2009-12 and again in 2017). He was head coach of the Chargers from 2013 to 2016.
Holcomb was linebackers coach of the Panthers for the past five seasons. Wilks spent five seasons as secondary coach in Carolina before being named defensive coordinator there last year. Rodgers was special teams coordinator of the Chicago Bears the past three seasons.
McCoy, 45, was a hot commodity in 2013 and the Cardinals were interested in him as a head coaching candidate at the time before he chose the Chargers and the Cardinals went with Arians. McCoy’s first two San Diego teams went 9-7 but they dipped to 4-12 in 2015. He was fired after San Diego went 5-11 in 2016.
He takes over an offense that has no quarterback. General manager Steve Keim has said he will be aggressive either by free agency, trade or the draft – or any combination of the three – to find a quarterback.
McCoy has experience in several offensive schemes and Wilks, whose coaching background is entirely on the defensive side of the ball, has made it clear he wants a strong running game.
”Someone mentioned a pass-happy league, which I agree it is,” Wilks said at his news conference Tuesday. ”But, I still believe this: You have to have a foundation of running the football. As a defensive coordinator, there’s nothing more demoralizing to a team than being able to run the ball. I mean, you’re talking about taking the air out of an individual. So, that’s going to be our premise. When you look at some of the premier running backs in the National Football League, we have one right here in (David) Johnson.”
Johnson, who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage and touchdowns in 2016, broke a wrist in the 2017 opener and missed the remainder of last season.
In 2011, with McCoy as offensive coordinator, the Broncos led the NFL with a franchise-record 2,362 yards rushing.
McCoy was an assistant at Carolina for nine seasons before going to Denver. He was a quarterback at Long Beach State and Utah. He was on the practice squad at Green Bay and San Francisco and played in NFL Europe and the Canadian Football League before beginning his coaching career.
Holcomb, 47, helped develop one of the NFL’s best linebacking duos in Carolina with Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis.
He inherits what has been a strong defense anchored by All-Pro outside linebacker Chandler Jones, who led the league in sacks, and perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson.
James Bettcher, who served as defensive coordinator for four seasons under Arians after Todd Bowles left for the New York Jets, was hired Friday as defensive coordinator for the New York Giants under new head coach Pat Shurmur.
With Holcomb overseeing the linebacker corps, the Panthers finished third in the NFL in sacks, seventh in overall defense and third in run defense. The Panthers were the only team in the NFL not to allow a player to rush for 100 yards. Under Bettcher last season, Arizona was sixth in overall defense.
Rodgers, 40, has 17 years of coaching experience, 14 with special teams in the NFL. Special teams have often been a problem for the Cardinals in the Arians years.
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