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Bruce Arians’ lack of accountability is elephant in the room

Dec 13, 2016, 2:31 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2016, 11:09 am
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians talks with media members after an NFL football game again...
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians talks with media members after an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Buffalo won 33-18. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
(AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

“There won’t be any coaching changes. Let me make that perfectly clear today.”

If this was said in a vacuum by Bruce Arians, it’s brilliant coaching. The problem is nothing happens in a vacuum. If Bruce Arians, normally, didn’t call people out through the press, this move shows tremendous strength.

Unfortunately, he does call out players through the press and, therefore, his players are left to wonder why can I be called out but a coach can’t?

At Arians’ press conference Monday, the job security of special teams coach Amos Jones was called into question.

There’s always a group of people in any locker room, any office and any job site that blame others for why they can’t get their own job done. Bruce Arians was not talking to us, he was talking to every player in the locker room that want to blame a coach for why they are failing at snapping, holding, punting and kicking. It would have been a great move if not for the context how players might hear it.

The Cardinals’ special teams are anything but:

FG%= 30th
Xpt%= 24th
Punting AVG= 32nd
Punting Net AVG= 32nd
Punt return: 17th
Opponent’s punt return: 23rd
Kick-off return: 16th
Opponent’s kick return: 27th
FO-special teams DVOA= 30th

The highest compliment the Cardinals special teams has earned is they’re average in two of the eight stats.

Obviously, the Cardinal players on special teams aren’t as good as other teams and that’s not the coach’s fault.

When’s the last time, however, the Cardinals’ special teams unit saw an opponent’s weakness or flaw and exploited it? Why can other teams time out Arizona’s snap count and jump the center but Arizona can’t? When’s the last fake punt or fake field goal that successfully exposed the opposition?

The whole art of coaching is being able to make teams better than the collection of players and Jones has not demonstrated an ability to do that.

The elephant in the room on the 2016 Cardinals season is a lack of consistency from Arians. If your boss always calls you out in front of the group when things are your fault, you’ll probably accept it as long as it happens to everyone when they deserve it. If your boss makes the same mistake as you do but makes excuses about it, how would that sit with you after you’ve been held accountable in the past? If everyone isn’t held to the same standard, there is no standard.

The magic of B.A. is his ability to relate to players in a way few coaches do. Players trust him because he sets a bar of accountability that any employee wants. When any employee in any job sees that accountability is only for them, however, the established trust is gone. If your boss tells you there’s no money for a raise and then your bosses go out to dinner with expensive wine on the company dime, why would you believe them?

If Jones moves on in any way after the season, he should be treated with grace and dignity. He gave his best and it wasn’t good enough. Arians wouldn’t be lying if Jones is removed after the season because he said there won’t be any changes… today. If there aren’t changes for next year, some players may think Arians has a standard for players to reach but the same expectation isn’t placed on coaches.

Arians is clearly a good coach. No matter how old you are, however, you can always learn.

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Bruce Arians’ lack of accountability is elephant in the room