Bruce Arians “flattered” to get contract extension from Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Bruce Arians was content to ride off into the sunset after the 2011 season, when his contract expired with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Up to that point, his NFL coaching career had him as a running backs coach with the Kansas City Chiefs [1989-92], a tight ends coach with the New Orleans Saints [1996], quarterbacks coach with the Indianapolis Colts [1998-2000] and offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns [2001-03].

Arians was the Steelers’ wide receivers coach from 2004-06 and their offensive coordinator from 2007-11. Other than being a head coach, Arians had seen it all and done it all before his time in Pittsburgh was up.

“I was satisfied with it being over,” Arians said.

Arians’ career was far from being over. Once Chuck Pagano got the head-coaching job with the Colts, he called Arians and insisted he be a part of his coaching staff.

“I’m still thankful to Chuck [Pagano],” Arians said. “When Chuck made that call, these last three years happened. I’ll be always indebted to him for it.”

Arians joined Pagano in Indianapolis in 2012 as his offensive coordinator. No one had a crystal ball and could see what would occur during that season, when Pagano had to step aside when he was diagnosed with leukemia and Arians having to take over for him. Arians made the best of a horrible situation and led the Colts to a 9-3 record under his leadership and his first AP NFL Coach of the Year award.

All of that has led to where Arians currently stands today: as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals and now two-time AP NFL Coach of the Year.

Arians isn’t your typical 62-year old. He’s got the mind, heart and personality of a 25-year old. His two-plus years in Arizona, plus his brand new contract extension has him re-dipped in the fountain of youth.

“Oh yeah, I mean totally. You would have to run me out of here with a stick now. It’s too much fun,” Arians said. “I knew when we put this staff together, we were going to be successful, because the core, [general manager] Steve [Keim] had the core roster, and I knew we had a coaching staff that was going to do a great job.”

Arians has made right move after right move since becoming head coach, and the numbers back it up. Dating back to his time in Indianapolis, Arians is 30-14 as an NFL head coach. There are only three head coaches – John Fox [35], Bill Belichick [34] and Pete Carroll [34] – with more wins than Arians in their last 44 regular season games.

Arians is also the only coach in franchise history to win 10 or more games in his first two seasons with the team. His 21 wins are more than any coach in team history through their first 32 games.

Team president Michael Bidwill gladly decided to open his checkbook and extend Arians’ contract through 2018, with an option for a fifth year that would take it through the 2019 season. Arians’ tireless efforts and his track record made it all possible.

“Flattered. It’s crazy to think of it. It’s extremely generous of Michael; unexpected,” Arians said. “I can’t thank the players enough. Obviously, you thank Michael, because he didn’t have to do it, but thank the players for showing up for work every day and making something like this possible for me.”

What’s helped Arians and the Cardinals reach such a quick level of success is the relationship Arians has had with Keim in their two short seasons together in Arizona. They’ve worked in unison because – as Keim said on Tuesday – they have “clearly defined roles,” and they don’t cross each other.

“It’s been so easy working with Steve. They know what we don’t have and what we do have, and they’re always searching to help us get better,” Arians said. “You’ll never hear a coach say ‘We lost a game, because we didn’t have this player.’ That’s not how we do business. It’s a very easy thing, like Steve said, when everybody does their job.”

By the time Arians’ contract is up, he’ll be nearing 70-years old. Is there a limit on how long he wants to coach?

“No, it will all depend on how I feel. Health will dictate everything. It does for almost all of us,” Arians said. “As far as energy and passion, I probably have more of both than I’ve ever had for the game because I never thought I would have this opportunity.”

“To help answer that, too, I just read that [New York Giants’ head coach] Tom Coughlin is 68 working on an extension, so Coach [Arians] has tons of time,” Keim said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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