Bruce Arians wants to be a head coach in the National Football League.
The 60-year-old has been an assistant his entire NFL coaching career, with his most recent stops being as offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Arians replaced former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt as the play caller in Pittsburgh, and filled in for Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano as he was dealing with leukemia.
It’s the latter experience that has most directly led to Arians being a top candidate, and he said in a press conference following an interview with the Cardinals Thursday that he believes guiding the Colts to a 9-3 mark this past season not only proved to the rest of the league that he can run a team, but also proved to himself that he could do it.
“It’s not as hard as it’s supposed to be,” Arians said of what he learned.
In truth, Arians said he learned how to delegate — which was tough for him — as well as that there is enough time for someone to not only be the head coach, but offensive play caller as well.
So, if he is hired by the Cardinals, expect Arians to call the shots offensively.
“I will have an offensive coordinator but I will call the plays,” Arians said. “Until I can find someone who’s going to do it better than me.
“I haven’t found him yet.”
The idea of the head coach calling the plays too may not sound great to some, but Arians wouldn’t be the first to do it. In fact, former Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt did it when he first arrived, only ceding the role to Todd Haley late in his first year with the team.
And ultimately, it’s Arians’ offensive prowess that has the Cardinals interested in his services.
In truth, Arians has learned quite a bit from each of his stops in the NFL. Having coached quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, it’s apparent he has a knack for handling the position.
That is important for the Cardinals, especially since most believe the team’s issues there are directly responsible for the team’s struggles.
Arians said the solution will be found via a variety of different avenues, and that if he gets the job he’ll look at ways to improve things over the next few months.
Right now it would appear Arians would only need to fix one side of the ball. Because as bad as the Cardinals were on offense, they were just as good on defense.
Led by Ray Horton, who was the defensive coordinator and is now a candidate for the top job, Arizona ranked 12th in the NFL in total defense and third in the NFC for takeaways. In short, little has to change there, though there were reports Wednesday that an Arians hire would lead to a Horton departure.
“I really couldn’t comment on staff,” Arians said, adding it’s too early in the process to make decisions like that. “I know Ray, I’ve got history with Ray, but all those things would be way down the road.”
Indeed they would be, and at the moment Arians is just one of many candidates who the Cardinals are considering. Arizona’s opening is the only one left, meaning anyone who does not get the job will end up returning to their current roles.
That’s something Arians said wouldn’t necessarily be so bad. Because while he has a desire to become a head coach, he said it’s important he find a place that’s a good fit.
“I have a pretty good job sitting back in Indianapolis, it’s not a full-court press for me,” he said. “Do I want to be a head coach? Definitely. But just to be one? No.”