Cardinals Coaching Candidates Part 3: Grimm

Russ Grimm will find out soon whether or not he has made the Pro Football Hall of Fame as an offensive lineman. He should find out even sooner if he takes a step up from Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach of the Steelers to Head Coach of the Arizona Cardinals. We know he could probably still step in and block better than Leonard Davis, but can he get the Cardinals to the playoffs?

Russ Grimm:

After a Hall of Fame worthy career, Russ Grimm spent some time on the Redskins staff before moving to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2000 to coach their offensive line.  He obviously knows a thing or two about how to block (probably more than any starter on Arizona's line), but can he lead a team to victory?  Pros and cons are listed here.


He coaches the offensive line and has done an exceptional job with the Steelers during his six year tenure.  The biggest hole the Cardinals have is along their offensive line.  The biggest issue that was ignored during Dennis Green's time with the team was the offensive line.

As an accomplished player, he commands the respect of everyone in the locker room.

He's won three Super Bowls as a player and one as an assistant.  He's been involved in big games and knows how to handle pressure.  There certainly is a lot of pressure associated with coaching a team in the NFL.

He has been involved with winning teams and is familiar with the chemistry, culture, and attitude of a winning organization.  He breathes it, fosters it, and exudes it.

As anyone who coaches the offensive line, Grimm possesses a quiet intensity and preaches discipline.  The Cardinals could certainly use some intensity and discipline on both sides of the ball.

Several teams have inquired about his availability, both as a head coach and offensive coordinator throughout the past few seasons.  For this reason, though possibly through merit, the Steelers gave him the title of Assistant Head Coach, so that only a team that is offering him a head coaching job can take him away.


Just because other teams want him doesn't mean the Cardinals should.  A lot of assistants and coordinators become "hot names" through the years.  It remains to be seen whether or not he can lead an entire team, not just an offensive line.

Former players that dominated their respective positions while they played (not just in football, in all sports, really) have experienced success as assistants, but rarely as head coaches.  A head coach is not just a leader, he's a teacher.  Since the game came so easily and intuitively to great players in every sport, they have difficulty teaching fundamentals and discipline to players that don't grasp the essential concepts of the game as easily as they did when they played.

While he has plenty of experience and carries the lofty "Assistant Head Coach" title that seems to be given out more liberally in recent years, he has yet to work as an offensive coordinator or truly handle any of the duties of an Assistant Head Coach.

The Cardinals need help on the offensive line.  This much is certain.  However, hiring a coach to head the entire team just to fix one aspect of it seems to be very short sighted.

With Steelers coach Bill Cowher's future undecided, it looks as though Grimm could be one of the candidates to replace Cowher.  Grimm may hold out in hopes that he lands a job in a situation he's familiar with (he's coached in Pittsburgh for 6 years, went to the University of Pittsburgh, and grew up in nearby Scottdale, PA).

Also, getting back to the fact that he was a vastly talented former player, his results seem to match the talent level of his players - the Steelers were a floundering team near .500 that allowed too many sacks when he showed up, they're a team floundering near .500 that allowed too many sacks this season.


He's a disciplinarian with a winning attitude that can change the culture of the Arizona Cardinals organization.  He has no prior experience and ego to stand in his way and therefore has nothing to lose.  Everywhere that Grimm has gone, he has succeeded.

However, no one really knows how he'll react when faced with the task of leading an entire team, not just five anonymous blockers.  Offensive lineman and offensive line coaches have, historically, not been successful as head coaches (with a very few exceptions).  They tend to be more quiet, more reserved, and less friendly with the media, tying into the "mushroom club" mentality that pervades their profession.

Can Grimm be the face of the organization?  We all know that he can coach a bunch of linemen that he has common goals and common interests with.  Can he handle receivers?  Linebackers?  Cornerbacks?  A young quarterback?

It's doubtful.  But, it's also hard to argue with his track record.  Anyone who spent that much time with Joe Gibbs and Bill Cowher must have learned something, right?  The Bidwells just have to decide if it's worth the risk.

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