Lou Anarumo, Mike Kafka Set For Second Cardinals HC Interviews

The first known finalists for Arizona’s head coaching vacancy have emerged. The Cardinals are set to meet for a second time with Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka (Twitter links via Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network).

Anarumo, 56, has been in Cincinnati since 2019, a spot which gave him his second career DC opportunity. His role in helping the Bengals emerge as AFC heavyweights over the past two seasons has increasingly been brought to the attention of the NFL community, as the 2023 coaching cycle continues. Anarumo’s unit surrendered the sixth-fewest points in the regular season in 2022, earning him and Bengals OC Brian Callahan interviews with the Cardinals this past week.

Most of the candidates named in Arizona’s search to date have a background on the defensive side of the ball. The Cardinals fielded the league’s second-worst scoring defense in 2022, and its roster turnover this offseason will include future Hall of Fame edge rusher J.J. Watt not returning. Immediately following the announcement of Kliff Kingsbury‘s firing, DC Vance Joseph was mentioned as a serious candidate to replace him. Several external candidates have been interviewed since, however, including Anarumo. The latter will meet virtually with new general manager Monti Ossenfort on Friday, per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer (Twitter link).

No timetable is yet known for Kafka’s interview, though it too will take place via Zoom. The 35-year-old took on an OC position for the first time in 2022, when he joined Brian Daboll‘s first Giants staff. His work as a QBs coach in Kansas City put him on the coordinator radar, though it still came as a surprise when he was given play-calling duties. That move paid dividends for Big Blue, as the Giants shattered expectations en route to a run to the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Kafka has interviewed with four of the five teams which entered this offseason in need of a new coach, underscoring his perceived value around the league. He met with the Texans for a second time last month, though Houston has since made the expected move of hiring DeMeco Ryans as their new bench boss. With a second interview now on tap with Arizona, though, the possibility remains that he could land a HC job to cap off his noteworthy rise.

With the second round of their HC search set to begin soon, here is the updated breakdown of the Cardinals’ interview process:

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