A look at potential Bowles replacements

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
11:00
AM ET
TEMPE, Ariz. -- As Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles continues to interview to be a head coach around the league, the possibility that he leaves for another job is becoming a distinct possibility.

If Bowles becomes a head coach, Arizona will be searching for its third defensive coordinator in as many years. A source close to the Cardinals said head coach Bruce Arians wants to stay with a 3-4 defense next season, which will limit his choices for Bowles' potential successor. Fifteen teams ran a version of the 3-4 as their base defense, but due to coaches under contract, Arians' choices may be restricted.

Here is a look at two potential replacements for Bowles:

Wade Phillips

Age: 66

Most recent job: Houston Texans defensive coordinator/interim coach

Last 15 years: Texans DC/interim coach (2011-13), Dallas Cowboys head coach (2007-10), San Diego Chargers DC (2004-06), Atlanta Falcons DC/interim HC (2002-03), Buffalo Bills head coach (1998-00).

W. Phillips
Why he'd be a good hire: Phillips runs a single-gap, 3-4 defense that Arizona flourished in this past season, so his transition to the Cardinals would be seamless and would allow them to continue their growth from 2013. Even as the Texans kept sinking this year, the defense stayed afloat as the top-ranked unit in the league for most of the season. It finished seventh, one spot below the Cardinals. But if the rankings show anything, it's that Phillips knows how to adapt. The Texans were ranked 16th in passing yards allowed in 2012 and finished third this past season. And he knows how to handle big names, having worked with J.J. Watt the past few years.

Jim Haslett

Age:58

Most recent job:Washington Redskins defensive coordinator

Last 15 years: Washington DC (2010-present), Florida Tuskers head coach (UFL, 2009), St. Louis Rams DC and interim head coach (2006-08), New Orleans Saints head coach (2000-05), Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator (1997-99).

Why he'd be a good hire: He's not technically on the market yet, having been retained by the Redskins after they fired Mike Shanahan, but that doesn't mean the next head coach in the Beltway will keep Haslett. One thing stands out after reviewing his career as a head coach and defensive coordinator: His defenses allow a lot of yards. But he'll inherit his best defense as a coach with the Cardinals. He's run a two-gap 3-4 in the past and the vets on Arizona's defensive line may be hesitant to return to the same scheme that Ray Horton ran in 2011-12. Players, however, tend to like playing for Haslett, who is known for disguising his defenses to the point they're unrecognizable. He's sent out tough run defenses in the past while his secondaries have struggled. But with the Cardinals he'll have a formidable and veteran pass rush to work his scheme.

Three other names you might hear:

Winston Moss (current Green Bay Packers asst. HC/ILB coach): Moss has it good in Green Bay, where he's been since 2006, but if he wants to be a head coach, the natural step is to first be a coordinator. The Packers run a 3-4 and in Arizona, Moss would be inheriting a stout unit with two of the best inside linebackers in the league, Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby.

Ray Horton (fired Cleveland Browns DC): He's a long shot considering Arians passed him over in favor of Bowles, the Cardinals want to continue running a 3-4 and the players are familiar with him.

Bill Sheridan (fired Tampa Bay Bucs DC): Although he ran a 4-3 in Tampa Bay this past season, Sheridan was with Bowles in Miami when the Dolphins ran a 3-4 and became a top 10 defense in 2010. Sheridan is capable of running both schemes and with a little push from Arians could run what Bowles ran.

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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