To be honest, I was lukewarm on Bruce Arians at first, and I am still VERY VERY apprehensive about the situation. Hard to trust the Cardinals front office because of their past, but this is a new time for this organization, so I am trying to support it. In my opinion the Cardinals risked a lot to sign Bruce Arians by losing Ray Horton. I like how the Cardinals came to the decision, and followed it through, that has my respect. But, the decision itself I don't agree with, and that is OK, with me.
Why Bruce Arians ?
First things first is that Bruce Arians fits into the Cardinals current situation. Bruce Arians has been doing this for 20 years in the NFL, if you add college he has been doing it for 37 years, and has a lot of experience. Michael Bidwill at best, at 47 years old has been at this for 15 years, and Keim has been at his job for 15 years as well. What I am getting at is Arians will bring a little bit more experience to the table. He has been a part of a couple organizations, been in the league, knows players, coaches, situations, etc., etc. It is a good balance right off the bat. Not to mention while Michael Bidwill speaks his mind, I think it is apparent that Steve Keim will not always go along. For example, the story that Michael Bidwill knew right off Arians was his man, and Keim, who also believes in Arians, took a little longer to be convinced. Bidwill may have said he didn't care if the head coach was offensive or defensive, but I will tell you right now Steve Keim wanted an offensive minded head coach, and thus Bruce Arians is the guy. For the goals this organization wanted to accomplish, I think they made a good choice for them. We will see how it works out.
So, who is Bruce Arians, what does he bring to the table, and what can he hang his hat on. First, and foremost, I would advise everyone to listen to his interviews. He is very candid, and very straight forward. He is going to tell it how it is, and most importantly take responsibility. The best example, is he came out and said that firing Horton was something he said that need to be done in order for him to become the Head Coach of the Cardinals. He told Bidwill straight out, day one, his thoughts about Horton, and almost immediately after he was hired, and Horton was fired, he made it clear it was his decision. I don't like the decision, but very much respect the process.
Career Stat Highlights:
2009 Top 10 offense, 2009 Top 10 passing offense, 2010 14th in offense and passing offense.
Bruce Arians, as stated, is an offensive mind. He has always coached the offensive side of the ball, and has coached every offensive position throughout his career. He has been in the NFL for 20 years, that are highlighted by his time under Tom Moore in Indianapolis (1998-2000) as the QB coach, as WR coach & later OC of the Steelers (2004-2011). Based on that you have to try and tie together some theories about what Arians can do for the Cardinals. He has had a hand in the development of three QB's that have had a lot of success in the NFL: Peyton Manning, Ben Rosthlesberger, and Andrew Luck. He has stated himself, that concerning the passing game, he likes to make things simpler. He is even quoted in saying that when Whizenhunt left Pittsburgh they went through the offensive play book and made it more simple. A statement that a lot of fans can understand, when for 3 years we have watched an offense that seems completely lost on what it should be doing out on the field, like they don't understand what is going on all the time. Too complex, too confusing. Arians says that the QB and the WR's and everyone on offense has to see the picture. I would assume it would be like in a video game, before you snap the football you can press a button to see the field, and the routes of your recievers, and see how it matches the defense. I can understand that logic, cause if you can see the play, and the defense then you know what pre-snap adjustment needs to be done, if any. Good concept, let's see if he can produce it on the field.
Thus in the passing game, we can expect to see what Indy has run for years, and what Pittsburgh has been running since Whiz left. Thus the running game will be tweaked, but the philosophy will be the same. I must say concerning the running game, I am a bit concerned. I am jealous of watching zone blocking teams rack up yards, but to be fair, that is looking at half the story. There are power running teams that do well, Seattle, Vikings, Ravens, but they have great RB's. We don't. This time I am ready for it. Arians is not going to give you Bill Cowher, smash mouth football. It is not going to happen. He is going to give you what we have seen out of the Steelers the last few years, and what Vick Ballard gave the Colts last year. Which means most of the production comes through the air. It is not that Arians is pass happy, and JoeSchmo has the proof: [http://www.arizonasportsfans.com/vb/showpost.php?p=2784330&postcount=37]
Arians is a balanced play caller but the production comes primarily through the air.
So, when it comes to roster turnover on the offensive side of the ball, Arians will definitely tweak the roster, but he can use some of what he has. That is an asset right now. The roster is in horrible shape. We have some very, very bad players, and very, very big contacts. Arians can work with that. Plus Arians gets the excuse that all new coaches get, that if he HAS TO keep a player, it is no HIS GUY, thus has no loyalty to him. Yet, the point is, for all those fans that like to look at players available, it is a similar offensive system to the one we have been running. Same type of linemen, same type of RB's,etc., etc.
So, how about philosophy ? That is huge, IMO.
Here are some of the quotes I REALLY liked when I heard them from Arians or from someone talking about Arians:
- "He is a good teacher."
Cannot stress how important this is. These are young men you are dealing with, and being able to clearly communicate what needs to be done is a big deal.
- "The longer he is here, the more right the decision feels"
Gotta like that. This team wanted a good fit.
- Any statement from his past players, and the Colts.
It seems he is liked by his players every where he goes. He is a disciplinarian, but there is nothing wrong with that. Plenty of players saying they will, "Run though the wall" for him.
- He had the story of when he dressed up in black to a practice.
It was a challenge to his defense, a challenge to his offense as well. He promote competition not just at positions, by within the team, and withing each players. Get better every day, and challenge yourself.
- "I believe in situational football."
That is great to hear. 3rd down on offense and defense, or play at a certain part of the game, or what to do when in a particular situation in the game, in a very specific moment. We hear all the time that a NFL football game comes down to a couple plays a game. Well, win those plays and win the game, right ?
- "Not a believe in time of possession, I am more about time of production."
It speaks for itself. He is not going to run the ball if the probability of it is going to produce a yard, for the sake of running the clock. He wants to attack, and go for production every play.
- "Next man up is not a motto, it is a reality"
You have to plan past the 53 guys on the roster, and have a system for implementing guys that come in off the street.
- "It's their team"
This hit very close to me. I have coached rugby when work permits and ran a team for 2 1/2 years. It is something I would tell my players all the time. I would say, "My body doesn't let me go out on that field with you. All I can do is tell you what to do when situations come up, but outside of that I cannot run, tackle, pass, and think for you. Once you are on the field, it is up to you." It is the truth. You cannot let players have the feeling they are relying on a coach once the ball is snapped. Before and after those times, the coaches can help, but when it comes down to it. The players are the only ones that can produce the results.
- "Gotta take your shots! That is important"
Finally. Seriously, I hope he makes good on this quote. I don't care how poor our offense was. When you have a defense like we did, and an offense like was did, then explain to me the "risk" of going deep for the sake of going deep. What is going to happen, another INT ? WHOOP T DO!!!!!! It had a good chance of happening anyway. After what we have seen for 3 years I hope we have a coach that has the balls to take a chance.
-"It's easier than I thought."
20 years in the NFL, 37 coaching football. He has waited 20 years to be a Head Coach. Yet, last year he got a taste of it, and I cannot be surprised that after 20 years of wondering what it was like, he says, "It was easier than I thought" Not saying the job itself is easy. Its not. But, in compared to the mystery of the position, it was a, "You don't know, until you know" situation. Arians had it in his mind that making the step from a offensive coordinator with 20 years experience to head coach would be HUGE! It wasn't and nor should it be when you been at it that long. That is when you know it is the right time to be in such a position. The realization that he said he had last year in Indy, that while an interm HC, he said to himself, "I can do this, I can definitely do this no problem.", and the realization he had in 2009 when he briefly retired* and realized he will work as a coach till he is kicked out or dead is all you need to know about his confidence, commitment, and abilities. The guy is ready to do this job, and has no doubts he can get the job done. THAT IS HUGE.
His medical problem at the end of the Indy season was a ear infection. Sounds nutz ? Well, I had the same thing, and knocked me down for 3 days in a way that it was impossible to do anything, and I am 34, not 60. He will be fine. 60 is old, but not too old.
The last thing about Arians I will hit on is his personality. The guy is a straight shooter and even seems a little abrasive. I did find out why he seems a little abrasive.
He is from Paterson, NJ. Yep, we got ourselves a Jersey guy, thus he has a "strong personality". Thus I can vouch why he is the way he is. Straigh forward, with a bit of a "I don't really care what you think" attitude and an unspoken confidence. He wants things his way, and he wants to be in charge. This is his responsibility and if it is his responsibility then he has to be the head guy. What else can you ask for in that regard ?
Here is too a new season, a new era.