Cards Coaching Candidates Part 5: Norm Chow

As recently as 2005, Norm Chow was calling in plays to Matt Leinart.  Granted, he was the offensive coordinator at USC and Leinart was their quarterback, but he has worked with Leinart before, as well as rookie guard Deuce Lutui.  Can Chow translate collegiate success as a coordinator to success as a coach at the pro level for the Cardinals?  Pros and cons listed here.


Current Titans quarterback Vince Young (the man who defeated Leinart in last year's BCS Championship Game) thinks Chow walks on water.  He has spoke in glowing tones about Chow's abilities as a coordinator, teacher, and mentor.

Matt Leinart is very familiar with Chow's system and had tremendous success with it it, winning two national championships and the Heisman Trophy at USC.

Chow has also worked with starting guard and 2nd round choice Deuce Lutui.

Without a doubt, Leinart thinks very highly of Chow and likely recommended him to the Cardinals brass as a potential replacement for Dennis Green.

Chow has worked with some of the greatest quarterbacks in collegiate and professional football.  He had success at USC and BYU and brought the best out of Vince Young in his first season as the Titans quarterback.

He is considered an innovative offensive mind.


Before we get too far ahead of ourselves and crown Chow as the most innovative coordinator in all of sports, his system works much better in the college game than the pros.  It is more of a horizontal passing game than a vertical passing game and isn't likely to mesh well with the personnel the Cardinals currently have.  One of the reasons Steve McNair went to Baltimore was that he was having difficulty with Chow's scheme.

His last head coaching experience was at the high school level.  For three years.  In the early 1970s.

One of the reasons Vince Young was successful under Chow's tutelage is that Chow changed the offense to suit Young's unique skill set.  It should be noted that veterans Steve McNair and Kerry Collins struggled pretty mightily in Chow's scheme.  It could just be that Chow's offense is another system that only works in Division I football.

Other than his two seasons as offensive coordinator with the Titans, Chow has spent his entire career in college football.  With the recent defection of Nick Saban back to the college ranks, it's difficult to trust someone to stay with an NFL team when all they've known is the safety and security of coaching college football.

He's sixty years old and has two seasons of experience as a coordinator at the NFL level.  And three years of head coaching at the high school level.  The rest is as an assistant or coordinator at the college level.  One would have to assume that if he really wanted to be a head coach, he would have done it by now.


If the Cardinals are looking for an offensive guy, they have Mike Sherman, Cam Cameron, Ken Whisenhunt, and possibly Russ Grimm to consider.  Jim Caldwell of Indianapolis has at least worked with Edgerrin James and Peyton Manning, sustaining excellence over a long period of time at the NFL level.

I understand the Leinart connection.  Really, I do.  But the scheme doesn't fit the rest of the personnel, it remains to be seen if it actually works at the NFL level, and Chow has a total of two years of relevant experience.  He's not a former player, he doesn't possess certain intangibles or "it" qualities that would separate him from other candidates, and there's the possibility that he could tuck his tail between his legs and head back to USC (or some other program) in two years.

The Cardinals either need a steady hand with experience or someone with fire, intensity, and an attitude to change the fortunes of the franchise.  Chow is neither.  If you were the Bidwells, would you hand the keys to the franchise over to someone that only recently, after years in football, broke into the game as a coordinator at the highest level?  Would you trust your offense to this guy?  Your defense?  The entire team.

Neither would I.

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