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Arians steps into a potential mess in Arizona

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Last month, Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians made it clear that he’s not going to take just any NFL coaching job, even though there are only 32 of them.

“I’m not just gonna run away to be a head coach, I’m not gonna do that,” Arians said.  “I want to make sure they have a chance to win and see what the situation is, what city it is in.”

Though there’s nothing wrong with the city in which the Cardinals are located, the team over which Arians will take charge plays in a suddenly stout division, with the two-time NFC finalist 49ers, the surging Seahawks, and the up-and-coming Rams.  Complicating matters for Arians is the fact that the Cardinals have a horrible quarterback situation and an even worse offensive line.

Sure, the veteran assistant likely believes he can fix Kevin Kolb or coax a more consistent level of play from John Skelton, or maybe pilfer Alex Smith from the 49ers.  Still, of the eight jobs that needed to be filled, the Cardinals’ situation was among the worst available — possibly tied with the Jaguars when it comes to the size of the mountain that needs to be climbed to transform the team into a winner.

Maybe the 60-year-old Arians realizes if he didn’t pounce on the only offer he ultimately received he’d possibly never get another chance to run a team of his own.  A year ago, Arians working as an NFL head coach would have been unthinkable.  The Steelers, weary of his close friendship with Ben Roethlisberger, fired Arians and clumsily tried to make it look like he had retired.

Arians landed on his feet in Indy, and when leukemia struck coach Chuck Pagano, Arians received an opportunity to show, for a three-month period, that he could get the job done.  And get the job done he did, lifting the Colts to the postseason and likely positioning himself for a share of the AP coach of the year award, with Pagano.

In Arizona, there will be no Roethlisberger or Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning or, barring a trade, any other great quarterback who will help Arians overcome the trio of tough teams in the division.  Sure, he has receiver Larry Fitzgerald and an underrated defense.  But there are many holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball — and ownership hasn’t exactly demonstrated patience with its coaches.  The Steelers have had three since 1969; the Cardinals have now had 15.

Still, for Arians, it may have been now or never.  And the odds he helped the Colts overcome in 2012 are even longer than those he now faces with the Cardinals.

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17 Responses to “Arians steps into a potential mess in Arizona”
  1. jjb0811 says: Jan 18, 2013 7:35 AM

    Trade Fitz for a bounty of picks and start over. AZ need a complete overhaul.

  2. thereisfootballwestofjersey says: Jan 18, 2013 7:46 AM

    “Yo coach! Hit me when your plane lands. We’ll go to Wingstop, then King of Diamonds.”

    -Darnell Dockett

  3. rajbais says: Jan 18, 2013 7:49 AM

    Mess?

    Andre Roberts and Rob Housler can play!!! They were poorly utilized under Whisenhunt!!

    They just need 3 more linemen, a RB, and a QB.

    Oh, if you don’t have a QB … Draft one!!!

  4. Kreedos says: Jan 18, 2013 8:15 AM

    The Ray Horton situation transformed the situation from a mess to straight trash.

  5. redbirds85 says: Jan 18, 2013 8:29 AM

    Hate to see us lose Horton, but look how hes going about it! Pushing his way out throwing a fit? Speaks to his maturity level. Horton isnt ready to be a HC! If he was he would have been hired by one of the eight teams that were looking for a new one. Cards gotta do whats best for the Cards. Not Ray Horton.

  6. ddogdaddy says: Jan 18, 2013 8:30 AM

    I first thought the Bears would be the ideal place for BA to go. Now I realize the Cards job is the best place for him. If he goes 8-8 in Chicago he is a failure. If he goes 8-8 in Arizona they are likely to erect a statue of him outside of the stadium.

  7. tatum064 says: Jan 18, 2013 8:32 AM

    And the rocket scientist completed the mess by hiring a 4-3 DC from an under^achieving, loaded defense in Philly, and firing Ray Horton.

  8. dlmayday says: Jan 18, 2013 8:36 AM

    I completely disagree with this article. Arizona is just a few small moves away from being a contender even without Horton on staff as the DC. Like most teams in the NFL for that matter. Look at how many teams go from worse to first or vise versa as a matter of fact. I think coaches take jobs based on feelings not unlike everyone else. We have plenty of staff that will be able to do a good job running that defense as long as they only do small tweaks and not a complete overhaul.

  9. cardz24 says: Jan 18, 2013 8:37 AM

    What people forget to mention is they were close to winning five more games with playing horrible offense and an line that was destroyed by injuries. Look at the steelers they have a good QB, but no playoffs because they lost a lot of players on their line. Another reason Peyton went to Denver instead of Arizona!

  10. jonsilver1947 says: Jan 18, 2013 9:08 AM

    After reading the headline, I can’t believe this posting made no mention of the loss of Ray Horton as DC…there are gonna be hard feelings among the players on that side of the ball for the way that situation was handled…arguably, next to no quarterback, that’s the most important negative Arians will face…

  11. waltrd says: Jan 18, 2013 9:21 AM

    The Cardinals made a wise choice in selecting Bruce Arians. He did a whale of a job with the Colts. I only hope the front office and ownerships will provide him with the necessary support to help him and the team be successful. They need to shore up their offensive line and obtain a good QB. Since there is not ready QB coming from the college ranks this year, unlike last, they may need to go after Smith of the 49′ers who probably would be willing now to unload him.

  12. Ponder This says: Jan 18, 2013 9:44 AM

    These are the same things they were saying about the Vikings last year. How can they compete in such a tough division? Funny how things can change in the NFL.

  13. mogogo1 says: Jan 18, 2013 10:14 AM

    A mess? Well, duh, they didn’t fire their last coach because they’d just won their third straight Super Bowl. Philly? Jacksonville? KC? Cleveland? Every team hiring is trying to pick up the pieces.

  14. patsfan13 says: Jan 18, 2013 11:15 AM

    Got to give him, and all the other new hirees a couple of seasons to get their systems in place. There will be personnel moves, asst coaches, players etc. Fan patience is the key.

  15. thestrategyexpert says: Jan 18, 2013 11:50 AM

    This is a great litmus test for Arians. If he’s truly a good coach then he will do well. He has a team loaded with quality talent in a lot of core positions, and the QB situation can only improve from here as a lot more will be available now that many desperate teams of the last couple years have exited the market for a franchise QB, plus there’s still a lot of vets that are plenty safe with their job i.e. Romo and Cutler and Rivers etc.

    The Cardinals are one of the better franchises to join for the long-term even though they have a lot of work to do, but the GM should be expected to set them up straight from here. It’s a super fun mess!

  16. dlmayday says: Jan 18, 2013 11:50 AM

    There is no proof that Horton is out. He’s still under contract with the Cardinals.

  17. bobzilla1001 says: Jan 18, 2013 3:39 PM

    Arians is the Tebow of coaches: Never in the history of professional sports has anyone done so little but gotten so much attention.
    Let the countdown begin for this guy’s “15 minutes of fame” to end…

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