He only has one full season of NFL head coaching experience, but Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is already getting plenty of respect from his peers.
A panel of 30 NFL insiders, including current and former general managers, personnel directors, coordinators and position coaches, rated Arians as the 13th-best current head coach in the league.
The survey, which was also broken down into tiers, placed Arians in the second of four tiers of head coaches — a group that includes former Super Bowl champions such as Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin and Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy.
While Arians is in the top-half of the list, he’s dead last in the NFC West, as the panel rated Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll second, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh eighth and St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher 11th.
ESPN’s Mike Sando noted that Arians received accolades from the panel for stepping in as interim head coach for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, and for doubling the Cardinals’ win total in his first season in Arizona.
He’s getting credit for how he handled the situation in Indianapolis when cancer sidelined Chuck Pagano. He’s getting credit for taking Arizona to a 10-6 record after the Cardinals had gone 5-11 the previous season. Winning in Seattle one season after the Cardinals lost there by a 58-0 count works in his favor.
“He is great with quarterbacks, has a very good offensive mind and a strong personality,” one GM said. “Look at what he did in Indy and what he has done in Arizona. Great hire.”
Can Arians crack the top-10 list in the near future? Some panel members are taking a wait-and-see approach.
A couple of voters thought the 2014 season would be revealing. One thought the 2013 schedule fell right for Arizona as several of the Cardinals’ opponents seemed to be in disarray.
The panel rated New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick as the NFL’s best and Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen as the league’s worst.