Cardinals fire GM, two assistantsPosted: Monday January 06, 2003 7:26 PM
Updated: Wednesday January 08, 2003 2:18 AM
PHOENIX (AP) -- The Arizona Cardinals shook up their underachieving team by firing general manger Bob Ferguson and two assistant coaches on Monday.
The Cardinals (5-11) completed a dismal season with a 37-7 loss at Denver on Dec. 29 -- their ninth defeat in 10 games. Sixteen players on the roster when the season began, including the top three wide receivers, top running back and four offensive-line starters, were on the injured or non-football injured lists at the end.
In the front office, Rod Graves, personal assistant to the team's president since 1997, was promoted to vice president of football operations, a new position which incorporates Ferguson's duties.
Graves will direct professional and college scouting, player contract negotiations and the draft.
"We are taking these steps to improve the organization and our play on the field," owner Bill Bidwill said. "Even though we suffered unprecedented injuries this season, a 5-11 record is unacceptable."
Head coach Dave McGinnis relieved offensive coordinator Rich Olson of his duties and declined to offer a new contract to defensive backs coach Kevin Ramsey.
"The only constant in this business is change," McGinnis said. "Like many business decisions, changes are difficult to make."
The remaining offensive coaches will be retained until after they have a chance to interview with the new coordinator, McGinnis said.
The 43-year-old Graves began his career in 1982 as a regional scout with the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL. He accepted the same position with the Chicago Bears in 1984, became the team's director of college scouting in 1993 and director of player personnel in 1994.
"Rod Graves is a solid, respected football man whose judgment and organizational skills will benefit our organization," Bidwill said. "He is ready to take the next step."
Ferguson, 51, worked for Dallas, Denver and Buffalo prior to joining Arizona's front office in February 1996. He had a reputation of masterminding solid drafts for the Broncos and Bills, and was made general manager on May 1, 1999. But his star began to wane the next year, when Graves was hired and took control of negotiating player contracts.
Late in the season, the Cardinals began signing players such as running back Marcel Shipp, defensive tackle Barron Tanner and defensive end Fred Wakefield before they became free agents -- a sign of Graves' influence on the owner.
"We recognize that we've got a core of players here that we feel can be part of the program for a number of years, and if we can secure those players with today's dollars, in our opinion it made sense to do it," Graves said.
He said McGinnis' job was not in jeopardy despite the coach's 13-28 record, including 1-7 as interim coach after Vince Tobin was fired in 2000. McGinnis kept the team competitive long after key players went down with season-ending injuries, Graves said.
"We feel real good about Dave McGinnis as far as leading this football team is concerned," Graves said.
Others might not be on such solid footing.
"We're taking a look at not only the coaching area but the
player personnel area, scouting and all football operations,"
Graves. "So there could be some additions and changes in the days