Repeat Hall of Fame finalist, Russ Grimm, has heard his name mentioned as a head-coaching candidate before. He was on the Jets short list last offseason. Prior to that, he missed out on both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals head coaching positions. Even though he competed with Ken Whisenhunt for both openings, he opted to follow Whisenhunt out West.
The former "Hog", who has four Super Bowl rings (three as a player and one as coach), said he didn't mind, "riding shotgun." Grimm put his head down and went to work, which defines the kind of coach and player he's always been. Today, Grimm wears a few hats with the Cardinals as the Assistant Head Coach, Running Game Coordinator and Offensive Line coordinator. It seems that Grimm is ready to be in the driver's seat. The problem with the Bills could come down to timing.
Although the Cardinals reportedly granted permission to the Bills to interview Grimm, the Cardinals have a short week before visiting the New Orleans Saints on Saturday. However the timing does or does not work out, Grimm is considered a top-candidate because of his tough-nose, blue-collar and old school approach to coaching a football team.
Grimm would be a good fit with Buffalo because there is a lot of work to be done. Grimm doesn't shy away from messes. He brought the Cardinals to an 8-8 record his first year out, brought them to the Super Bowl the following season and is pining for another Super Sunday appearance in his third year.
A big part of the Cardinals' success has been the way Grimm responded to the task at hand. During Grimm's current Cardinals tenure, he was given the grim job of improving the Cardinals offensive line. Any troubles that the Cardinals offensive line has, in any given game, is over-shadowed by its complete 360. Grimm's group tied for the most consecutive games starting the same offensive linemen until Mike Gandy was injured in the regular-season. Grimm has stressed continuity and received it. The Cardinals finished the 2009 regular season tied for sixth best in the league in protecting their quarterback by allowing 26 sacks. In 2008, it was 28 sacks (11th best) and 2007 was 24 sacks (eighth best).
Grimm has demanded excellence. For the most part, he's gotten it. Grimm's cleaned up much of the mental errors that were synonymous with the Cardinals offensive line but some still linger. The Cardinals 2007 first-round pick, Levi Brown, is responsible for the most penalties on the offensive line. He is also burned for his fair share of sacks. Brown should be further along than he is. Brown has never known another pro offensive line coach other than Grimm so that blame is fairly on Grimm. But the nation disagrees with this assessment, voting Brown as an alternative in this year's Pro Bowl.
Where Grimm has excelled is the Cardinals running game. While the Cardinals 28th ranked running game would tell otherwise, there's more to it. Grimm was handed run-game duties in 2009 and its improved 10-fold. Not only because of the sleeper pick of the previous draft, Tim Hightower, but also because of the Cardinals 2009 first-round pick Beanie Wells who has developed nicely under Grimm. He's a power back, which is just how Grimm wants his offensive line and run game to be.
Despite its postseason success, there are still improvements to the offensive line and running game that needs to be tweaked. If Grimm heads to other pastures, the Cardinals will definitely miss Grimm's ability to solidify these two groups even more.
See Part I of this series here. Experts in New York and Minnesota break down Brian Schottenheimer and Leslie Frazier.-------------------------------------------------
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