TEMPE, Ariz. — When asked if anything stands out from the 2013 season or if he can point to a defining moment from his inaugural campaign in Arizona, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said he hasn’t had much time to reflect yet.
It’s understandable, especially since the season had ended less than 24 hours before the question was posed.
But, as Arians thought about it, he mentioned some play calls that did not work out along with Tyrann Mathieu’s game-clinching tackle against the Detroit Lions, how his squad dominated a very good Carolina Panthers team in Week 5 and what happened in Seattle.
“There are so many,” he conceded. “When you try to pin them down to one…I will always remember the opening kickoff in St. Louis.”
For Arians, Monday’s press conference was a bit of a conclusion to what had been a season he had always hoped for, his first as a full-time NFL head coach. He was 60 years old when the season kicked off, and 61 when it ended, and during that time he solidified his reputation as an excellent offensive mind who is able to get the most out of his players.
“With B.A., he’s going to be very blunt and straight up with you,” linebacker Daryl Washington said. “He’s not going to sugar-coat anything. I think when you have a guy like that who can command a locker room at any point; when he’s talking, everyone’s listening.
“Everyone understands what he’s all about; he’s about winning and doing the right things.”
Arians’ 10 wins are tied with Philadelphia’s Chip Kelly for most among the first-year head coaches, and he is second on the Cardinals’ all-time list behind Norm Barry, who won 11 games in 1925. Including the 9-3 record he guided the Indianapolis Colts to in 2012, Arians is 19-9 as an NFL head coach.
His style has earned him plenty of fans within the locker room, and it showed on Sundays and in the fact that some players referred to him as a sort of father figure.
“I don’t like that,” Arians said with a smile. “I’m the cool uncle you like to have a drink with. Everybody had that uncle, that you really just love that uncle. He might call you a little [expletive] or something. That’s me.”
For the most part, Arians lived up to his reputation. He was honest and often times used colorful language, but was someone the players clearly respected and responded to. Now that the 2013 season is over, the coach is already looking toward 2014, thinking of ways the Cardinals can improve and focusing on how to have his first season’s strong finish carry over to his second.
In the meantime, though, he’ll take what he learned into year two.
“That it was just coaching,” he said when asked what he realized over the course of the season. “It was coaching 53 guys instead of 26 or five. That if everybody has a common belief and comes to work every day, anything can be done. It was a lot of fun.
“I’m very thankful for Michael (Bidwill) to give me this opportunity.”