NFC West: Rick Christophel


Recently hired Arizona Cardinals assistants Tom Pratt, 77, and Tom Moore, 74, stand out for their age in a young man's game.

Moore has given assurances that age will not hold him back, particularly after knee replacement surgeries restored his energy. Pratt has explained how focusing on the present makes the distant past less relevant.

The idea that age is only a number works both ways. How else to explain the news that Freddie Kitchens, the Cardinals' quarterbacks coach and one of the team's youngest assistants on staff, required heart surgery Tuesday?

Kitchens, 38, sat up in bed and showed a sense of humor hours after undergoing the surgery for a defective aorta, coach Bruce Arians told reporters Wednesday.

That seems like a positive sign for Kitchens, who was stricken by dizziness during organized team activities Tuesday. It's too early to know a longer-term prognosis. For now, Moore will coach quarterbacks as well.

Moore's status as a long-time NFL offensive coordinator and Arians' background as a quarterbacks coach puts the Cardinals in position to carry on from a coaching standpoint. Supporting Kitchens and his family through a difficult time is the immediate focus, of course.
A few thoughts after the Arizona Cardinals announced Bruce Arians' initial coaching staff for the 2013 season:


  • More resources: Former head coach Ken Whisenhunt had 16 assistants last season, three or four fewer than the NFC West norm. The number wasn't alarmingly low; New England has had the same number at various points. Arians has 20 assistants, counting four holdovers whose names I've bolded in the chart below.
  • OL committee: The Cardinals do not have an offensive line coach by title. With Arians calling offensive plays, coordinator Harold Goodwin will take the lead with the line. Larry Zierlein, the Pittsburgh Steelers' line coach for three seasons ending in 2009, is the assistant O-line coach.
  • Familiar name: Former Cardinals running back and return specialist Stump Mitchell will coach running backs. He spent nearly a decade on Mike Holmgren's staff in Seattle before following Jim Zorn to the Washington Redskins. He was then head coach at Southern University. Mitchell still holds the Cardinals franchise record for all-purpose yards (11,988).
  • Experience rules: Arians is a first-time NFL head coach, but his staff has veteran seasoning. Tom Moore, Tom Pratt, Zierlein, Rick Christophel and Nick Rapone each have more than 30 years of NFL and/or college coaching experience.

The chart compares the Cardinals' final staff under Whisenhunt to their current one under Arians.

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