New Cards’ OC focuses on elevating line play

TEMPE, Ariz. — Harold Goodwin is close with his brother, Jonathan, the starting center for the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers. The two talk nearly every week, with Harold plugging Jonathan for inside information.

“I’m sure he won’t take those calls in a game week anymore,” said Harold, who was introduced as the Arizona Cardinals’ next offensive coordinator at a news conference Wednesday, meaning he will face his brother twice a year in NFC West battles. “This past Sunday was the last time I could ever root for the 49ers.”

If Goodwin can elevate the Cardinals’ offensive-line play anywhere near the level of San Francisco’s, he may well inherit the rest of the coordinator duties that he currently lacks under new head coach Bruce Arians.
 
Arians reiterated Wednesday that he will call plays this season, but Goodwin would handle “all other coordinator duties.” In reality, however, Goodwin is actually third in the offensive pecking order behind assistant head coach/offense, Tom Moore, a 34-year NFL assistant who coached 13 years in Indianapolis and tutored Peyton Manning for 12 years.

That should afford him plenty of time to learn behind a pair of coaches who have been alive a combined 134 years.

“At the end of the day, I’m happy coaching football. But when you work in any profession, you look to elevate your status or your level of work, and I welcome this opportunity,” said Goodwin, who was flanked by Arians in the Cardinals’ media work room. “The challenge is just learning day in and day out what I’ve got to get done.”

The first order of business is improving an offensive line that ranked dead last in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. The Cardinals ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards (1,204) and in rushing yards per carry (3.4). They also allowed a league-high 58 sacks.

“I’ve been watching the guys here recently, and I kind of like what I see,” Goodwin said. “Obviously, there’s a long way to go because everybody can get better, (but) I think there’s talent there.”

Goodwin singled out tackles Levi Brown and Nate Potter as two pieces to build around, and he also mentioned the importance of adding a young anchor piece through the draft.

“I think it’s huge,” he said. “You get young guys and get them to buy into the system, and you build for the future.”

As for what went wrong in the past, Goodwin wasn’t keen on the idea of grading the previous staff’s performance.
 
“I don’t want to speak upon that because I don’t know what was taught in the past,” he said.

If early indications are a sign of things to come, one immediate change could be the way Goodwin approaches the linemen. Previous position coach Russ Grimm was not a yeller. He was one of the guys. He was laid back.
 
Goodwin laughed when asked if that description applied to him.

“No,” he said, looking at Arians. “Not for either one of us.”

Neither coach got into specifics about their personnel because they are still in the process of evaluating them. But Arians did note that “position flexibility will be huge in what we’re looking at up front.”

Arians also has noted that there will be a “group of people” teaching blocking, including Goodwin, Moore, assistant offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, tight ends coach Rick Christophel and assistant tight ends coach Steve Heiden.

Goodwin began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan from 1995 to 1997 (he played at Michigan with Cardinals kicker Jay Feely), where he worked with former teammates and future pros Steve Hutchinson, Jon Jansen and Jeff Backus. In 1998, he was the assistant offensive line coach at Eastern Michigan and helped develop former Cardinals offensive tackle L.J. Shelton before moving to Central Michigan in 2000 as offensive line coach and, later, assistant head coach.

His NFL career began as an assistant offensive line coach in Chicago in 2004. He was hired by the Colts as offensive line coach last season.

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