Bruce Arians has two favorites to succeed him as Arizona Cardinals head coach -- and neither name should come as a surprise.
In an interview with ABC15's Craig Fouhy on Friday, Arians vouched for Cards defensive coordinator James Bettcher and Atlanta Falcons special-teams coach Keith Armstrong as worthy candidates to fill the vacancy left at the Cards helm when Arians retired Jan. 1. Both men are among nine candidates who have reportedly interviewed for the job.
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Arians promoted Bettcher from outside linebackers coach to defensive coordinator in Arizona before the 2015 season after previous DC Todd Bowles left to become the head coach of the New York Jets. Arians said Bettcher impressed him when both men were part of the Indianapolis Colts' coaching staff in 2012.
"My obvious pick would be James Bettcher because we’re so close and I think he’s more than ready," Arians said. "When you see a rising star, you recognize him... when he stands in front of the team, (he gets) all the respect in the world."
Armstrong, who has served as the Falcons' special-teams coach since 2008, played at Temple University while Arians was the Owls' head coach. Armstrong reportedly received a second interview with the Cardinals on Friday.
"I’ve watched him grow and I love him to death, and I think he’d do a great job," Arians said.
Among the other coaches the Cardinals are reportedly considering are a pair of young position coaches: 39-year-old Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and 36-year-old Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores. But Arians said the task of jumping from position coach to head coach is a tall one.
"To go from coaching four players to coaching 63 guys and being the face of the franchise, that’s not an easy thing for a young guy to do," he said.