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USA Today writer: Bruce Arians is NFL’s third-best head coach

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians celebrates after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals won 26-20 in overtime. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

One of the Valley’s most recognizable sports figures – famous for his clever quips, Kangol hats and an elite football team – was named the third-best head coach in the NFL by USA Today’s Steven Ruiz.

Just a day after Ruiz called the Cardinals’ offensive personnel the second-best in the league, the man who led the Cardinals to the NFL’s second-best record in 2015 sat just behind the Seahawks’ Pete Carroll (2) and the Patriots’ Bill Belichick (1) on the columnist’s coach ranking.

Is there a more aggressive coach in the league? Arians isn’t jumping on the dink-and-dunk trend most NFL offenses are now favoring. The Cardinals offense is going to attack defenses downfield and do it relentlessly. And that mindset has carried over to the defense. No team captures the personality of its coach more than Arizona. Arians also produces results. His teams have never won fewer than nine games, and that includes his 12-game stint as the Colts interim coach, when Indianapolis went 9-3.

Arians is 34-14 in three seasons as the Cardinals’ head coach. He’s led Arizona to the playoffs in his past two seasons and had the NFL’s second-best record last year.

As Ruiz noted above, Arians enjoys the luxury of coaching one of the most potent offenses in the league, one that led the NFL in yards in 2015. His defense, with four Pro Bowlers including Tyrann Mathieu and Patrick Peterson, was 8th in yards allowed.

Belichick, meanwhile, coached a Patriots defense that just cracked the top-ten in fewest yards allowed in the NFL (5430). His offense, headlined by Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, had the NFL’s sixth-highest yardage total (5991). He has four Super Bowl rings (’01, ’03, ’04, ’14), and is 223-113 (.664) in 21 years as an NFL head coach.

The Patriots have had one of the NFL’s top three records in each of the past six seasons.

Belichick is the greatest coach in NFL history. It’s not even debatable at this point. Other coaches have had bigger impacts on the game thanks to innovative schemes.

Carroll, who has previously headed the football programs of both collegiate and professional teams, is 93-67 as an NFL coach in a single season with the Jets, three with the Patriots and six with the Seahawks. He’s made two Super Bowl appearances, winning in 2014.

No team plays harder than the Seahawks. It doesn’t matter what the score is (see: Seattle’s playoff loss in Carolina last season), Carroll’s teams never seem to give up.

As for head-to-head performance, Arians is 2-4 in his career against the Carroll and the Seahawks. He lost the lone game he coached against the Pats in 2012 as the interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

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