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Chatting on the course: Arians on retirements, coaching changes, Super Bowl

Photo by timringTV

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On Tuesday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians took time to chat with the media while promoting the Arians Family Foundation, and specifically CASA.

He and his wife, Christine, announced that this year’s charity golf classic will be held on March 24 and 25 at Wild Horse Pass, and both discussed the joy they feel in being able to help out the Valley’s underprivileged children.

“It means a lot to me, just having watched what she (Christine) had done for all these years, one at a time, and now to be able to help so many, it means a ton,” the Cardinals coach said. “To me, it’s our job, sports figures in our community to help in any way we can. We have this special bond because of what she’s done all these years.

“It’s very family-oriented for us, and I take great pride in it.”

The Golf Classic was not the only reason Arians was at the TPC Scottsdale Tuesday, as he also took part in the Waste Management Phoenix Open’s Special Olympics putting event.

After it was all over, the head coach also took some time to talk some Cardinals.

Retirement talk

Arians’ thoughts on retirement, or more specifically the possibility of both QB Carson Palmer and WR Larry Fitzgerald calling it quits in the near future, can be found in-depth here.

Suffice to say, however, the head coach is hopeful both of his veteran stars will return for another go.

Presented with the adage that once a player starts thinking of retirement, it probably means that is the route they will go, Arians said it’s not really the case.

“I thought about it too many times myself,” he said, with a laugh. “Sometimes it’s forced, you know?”

Arians continued, saying that when players perform as well as both Fitzgerald and Palmer did this season, it is more difficult to just walk away.

Coaching staff shuffle

Toward the end of the season, there was some chatter about the possibility of Arians’ coaching staff undergoing a bit of a change. Most of the conversation centered around special teams coordinator Amos Jones, whom the head coach staunchly defended at every turn, and nothing has happened there.

Last week, however, the Cardinals did make a small change, with quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens moving over to running backs and coaching intern Byron Leftwich taking over at QB coach. Stump Mitchell, who had coached the team’s running backs, left the organization.

The changes didn’t phase Arians, who called Kitchens a “coordinator-in-waiting.”

“So going to another position, it will help our running backs because he knows the passing game inside and out,” he said. “So it’s another step for Freddie to become a coordinator, to coach another position.

“I was extremely pleased with Byron as a quarterback coach his first year, as an intern. He had a lot of input and it’s a natural position for him to coach. And it’s natural for Freddie to take over another position and expand his coaching resume because he’ll be a coordinator soon.”

With regards to Leftwich specifically, Arians said Leftwich’s experience as a QB in his offense in Pittsburgh gives him an advantage now as a coach. It’s easier, he said, for a coach to answer questions because he is familiar with what they are doing.

While Leftwich may be the perfect guy for the job, it is interesting to note that he is a member of the same draft class as Carson Palmer, who may be a player he is tasked with guiding.

Palmer was chosen No. 1 overall out of USC in the 2003 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals, while Leftwich was taken seventh overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars out of Marshall.

“I’ve been bugging Byron to get into coaching for about four years, and he couldn’t get off the golf course,” Arians said. “I knew once he did it, he’d be hooked. He’s hook, line and sinker now — he’s all in. He’ll be a head coach early and fast.”

More of Mathieu

Last week, AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban wrote a story about Tyrann Mathieu that featured the defensive back talking about how he is planning on bulking up over the offseason.

Mathieu’s reasoning is sound, in that with a little more weight he might be able to avoid the injuries that have plagued his first four seasons in the NFL.

Arians, however, isn’t so concerned with Mathieu’s size.

“I just want to see him get healthy,” he said. “His knee’s about 96 percent right now, his shoulder is 100 percent. So he’s got an offseason that he can really work on.

“Whether he gains weight, I’d like to see him get a little thicker because he does throw his body around. But it’s not going to stop injuries. Injuries, especially the ones he gets, are usually freaky things.”

Finally for Kurt

On Saturday, we will learn if Kurt Warner is a part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2017. Many people believe he will get the nod, and if you’re interested, a collection of content regarding Warner and his bid can be found here.

At any rate, Arians would like to see Warner’s name be announced this weekend.

“Man, I hope so,” he said. “He really, really deserves it. I was shocked he didn’t get it last year and I am really pulling for him.”

Arians never coached Warner — in fact, Arians was the offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh when Warner and the Cardinals were defeated in Super Bowl XLIII — but there was a brief moment a couple seasons ago where it seemed as though he might get his chance.

Back in 2014, as the playoff-bound Cardinals were being ravaged by injuries at the QB position, Warner himself acknowledged that he at least considered the possibility of a return.

Had that actually happened, Warner’s Hall of Fame eligibility clock would have been reset, and then he wouldn’t be up for enshrinement now.

“Once he gets a jacket maybe he’ll come back,” Arians said, with a laugh.

A super matchup

Arians has a somewhat unique perspective on this year’s Super Bowl matchup, as his Cardinals faced both the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons this past season.

In Week 1, Arizona fell to New England 23-21 in Glendale, whereas in Week 12 they lost to the Falcons 38-19 in Atlanta.

“It should be a heck of a ballgame,” Arians said. “I think if Atlanta can keep their nerves — calm, keep the game close for the first 18 minutes, I really like their chances. Their offense is really dynamic.”

A key to the Falcons’ success, Arians noted, was that they were able to keep their offensive line together, which is something the Cardinals were unable to do. All that said, however, they are facing a Patriots team that knows how to win on this stage.

“But Tom and Coach Belichick, they’re not going to have any nerves, and they’re going to be prepared,” Arians added. “It should be a whale of a ballgame.”

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