Bruce Arians spent 20 seasons as an assistant coach in the NFL before taking over as the lead man with the Arizona Cardinals in 2013.
Just more than two-and-a-half seasons into his tenure with the team, it has become popular to wonder why it took so long for Arians to land a top job. It’s a fair question, though the rest of the NFL’s loss has proven to be the Cardinals’ gain.
A guest of Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said all of what Arians brought to the table made him sure he was the right guy to replace Ken Whisenhunt.
“One, he’s a leader, and you’ve got to size that up face-to-face and person-to-person,” he said. “I think everybody in our community and probably throughout the NFL has figured that out, but nobody had interviewed him yet, at least in the Valley.”
Bidwill said he knew a lot about Arians before meeting him, but it was not until he got a chance to really get to know the coach where he became convinced.
“As we went through dinner it was crystal clear in the first two, three minutes that this guy was a leader,” he said. “And as we went through dinner and talked the next day through the interview, it was clear that not only was it going to be easy to work with him, but also that we could have tremendous success.”
Bidwill was right.
The Cardinals have gone 28-13 under Arians, which is the best record of any coach through 41 games with the team. Arians also won the AP NFL Coach of the Year Award following the 2014 season after leading the Cardinals to the postseason despite a rash of key injuries.
His aggressive style as a play caller as well as honest mentality with his players has proven to be very popular and effective, and under his guidance the Cardinals have become one of the NFC’s best teams as well as a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
There are a lot of reasons for that, of course, but Bidwill pointed to one other factor that led them to choose Arians.
“I think the other thing is, and people look past this, but his track record of success,” he said. “And it wasn’t just with one organization with one quarterback, but he had success and some times where they had to work through issues, whether it was injury, a change of quarterback, a change of systems or a change of teams in a few cases throughout his career, he always found a way to take the system he was given and the personnel he was given and improve it.
“So that to me is diversity of experience, and his game plan — those three things together — leadership, his experience and his plan, there was no doubt in my mind we were going to have a lot of success.”
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