When Bruce Arians retired from football, the Arizona Cardinals were left with an unexpected vacancy at head coach. We don’t know who they’ll fill that vacancy with, but we do know this: Keith Armstrong appears to be in the running.
Armstrong, 54, has been Atlanta’s special teams coordinator since 2008, and had a turn as a safeties coach (1994-1995) and secondary coach (1996) with the team before that. He’s consistently coached solid-to-good special teams units during his time in Atlanta, with a couple of shakier efforts in recent years. Not all of that can be laid at Armstrong’s feet, however, given the many flubs by players in the unit.
Armstrong has been interviewed by other teams in the past, but no head coaching gigs have ever come of it. Regardless of his hilarious turn on Hard Knocks back in 2014 and his unit’s distinctly mixed 2017 season, Armstrong remains a respected coach and motivator, which is why he keeps getting these interviews. A cynic might say that teams are only interviewing him to fulfill their requirements under the NFL’s Rooney Rule, but I am going to be optimistic for once in my life and hope that he’s a legitimate candidate.
Cardinals will be talking to Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong about their HC vacancy.— Sam Farmer (@LATimesfarmer) January 2, 2018
Despite deep dissatisfaction with the Falcons’ 2017 special teams, I don’t think Armstrong is in danger of being fired given his tenure and general effectiveness, so if he doesn’t get hired by Arizona or someone else he should be here in 2018. It should be noted that special teams has been a genuine issue for Atlanta at times this year, outside of Matt Bryant, so I can’t say Armstrong is safe with the 100% confidence I’m accustomed to, even so.
Ultimately, I’m hopeful Armstrong will get the head coaching job he’s been working his entire career for, even if the Falcons then have to chase down a new special teams coordinator. Regardless of whether he stays or goes, I’m hopeful Altanta’s special teams will be a strength next season.