Scouting Bruce Arians
I talked to many coaches, players, analysts and personnel men in the National Football League and their reports are filled with effusive praise for Arians. It's difficult to maintain a sterling reputation when you work with people in a win at all cost environment, where tempers flare and words are filtered through clenched teeth, but Arians has some how pulled it off.
Here's what I found:
Bruce Arians is a "great guy." In all the conversations that I had, this was the central theme. It's not a surprise to those I talked to that Arians took over for Chuck Pagano when Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and kept the team focused and motivated. Arians was "made for that job" and he constantly reminded Colts players of their mission: play hard enough to get into the postseason so Pagano could coach them in a playoff game.
This, believe it or not, is a critical dynamic for Arizona. I believe in stability and consistency but you'll never have that stability and consistency if the organization doesn't hire a guy they can live with and grow with. According to those I spoke with, Arians is that guy.
Bruce Arians is a Tom Moore disciple. Tom Moore was the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts when Peyton Manning was a rookie. As we all know, Manning and Moore went on to change the landscape of the NFL for the next 11 years and Arians was right in the middle of that schematic quake.
Arians is smart and has a creative mind. Some believe he was the architect behind the destruction, devastation and demolition of NFL defenses that saw a QB throw for over 4,000 yards, had two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard running back. His fingerprints are all over one of the most brilliant concepts the league has ever known: simplexity.
Simplexity, in a gross generality, involves simple schemes with complex execution. In a paradigm of personnel groups, formations, movement and offensive coordinator sleight of hand, Manning, Moore and Arians developed an offense that included four running plays, 10 passing plays, one personnel group and one formation.
The genius of the scheme was that those running it didn't care if they looked like a genius. But simplexity also included the likes of Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Edgerrin James. The Cardinals don't have that kind of talent but the remnants of that offense still linger in the scheme Arians will bring to Arizona.
Arians' reputation swirls around the core belief he is quarterback sensei, a developer/producer of the most coveted commodity an NFL franchise can have. Since 1998, 15-years later, Arians has worked with four quarterbacks: Manning, Tim Couch, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck. This guy knows quarterbacks and what it takes to be a quarterback in the National Football League.
This was a major plus in the pros column while interviewing with the Cardinals. The quarterback position is going to be job one for Arians and his staff. The only thing more clouded and convoluted than the Cardinals quarterback position are found in space and Arians has proven he can bring rookie quarterbacks along and make young quarterbacks better.
This guy's a coach at heart, not an administrator. Arians' peers tell me that he will get up in your face and keep you accountable and then be the first guy that hugs you as you walk off the field. He wants you to get it right. He cares about the success of his players and wants them to care about it the way he does. Arians does it his way. One personnel man told me Arians the "definition of a real ball coach" and players have said "he knows what he wants and will not back down from anybody."
The only negative I could find on Bruce Arians was his age. He's 60 years old and although he has head coaching experience, it was on an interim basis. But after talking with people that would know, Arians has no problem generating energy, passion and a fist in the air.
Time will tell on whether or not Bruce Arians will be a good head coach but if the reviews of his ability, knowledge and worthiness are any indication, the Cardinals did well.
Ron Wolfley, Co-host of Doug & Wolf