What Does the Bruce Arians Hire Mean for the Arizona Cardinals?
After a two-week intensive process, the Arizona Cardinals finally landed their man. Former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians agreed to become the franchise's 39th head coach according to ESPN.com's Adam Schefter. He succeeds Ken Whisenhunt and has ties with the Pittsburgh Steelers organization, like Whisenhunt did.
Arians will be entering his 24th season as a coach in the NFL, with the 2013 season being his first as a head coach. As a member of the Colts coaching staff, he was the interim head coach while Chuck Pagano was absent due to his recent bout with cancer.
He was 9-3 as interim coach while leading Indianapolis to an 11-5 record after a 2011 season that saw them finish 2-14. His offensive unit finished with the 10th best unit in the league based on total yardage, despite having one of the league's worst rushing attacks.
Prior to Indianapolis, Arians was the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2007 to 2011. His vertical style of offense helped the Steelers win one Super Bowl, which came in 2008. Pittsburgh's offense scored the go-ahead touchdown over the Arizona Cardinals with 35 seconds left to play in Super Bowl XLIII.
Even though their offense was ranked 22nd in the league in 2008, they had the No. 1 defense to play off of. The following year, the Steelers improved offensively by finishing No. 7 in total offense. It was the first time an Arians-led offense had finished inside the top 10.
He didn't go on to have another year like 2009 in Pittsburgh, so ownership decided a change was needed after the 2011 season. Todd Haley was brought in from Kansas City as quick as Arians was shown the door.
Yet, landing on his feet with the Colts was arguably the best thing that could have happened to him. He garnered invaluable head coaching experience and it gave him a fresh start in a new city with a new quarterback under center.
Lo and behold, that fresh start in Indy gave him the opportunity of a lifetime in 2013. Arians inherits the Cardinals' 32nd-ranked offense from 2012 that proved to be a complete disaster after Kevin Kolb went out with an injury during the team's Week 6 game against Buffalo.
From that point on they went on to win one more game the rest of the season. With roster and coaching staff questions looming, the 2013 season may prove to be an uphill battle. The Cardinals will have to figure out what they want to do at the quarterback position—is Kolb Arians' guy and can he effectively run his style of offense?
Or does he go out and draft a guy who can push the ball down the field like Andrew Luck and Ben Roethlisberger did in years prior? Obviously, there is no one in this draft class who replicates the talent of those two players, but Mike Glennon and Ryan Nassib both have comparable arm strength.
Aside from the quarterback position, this team has very little wiggle room in terms of free cap space. I have a feeling more than one high-dollar player will be let go along with the restructuring of other top money-makers in the organization.
Currently the Cardinals are projected to have minus-$723,000 in cap space if their roster sits as is, which further confirms my prediction of a couple fan-friendly names being let go. Without a doubt, newly appointed general manager Steve Keim has plenty of work to do between now and the beginning of the 2013 season.
I'm sure Arians will have plenty of say when it comes to who stays and who goes, considering he will need all hands on deck if he wants to turn Arizona's recent misfortunes into fortunes. A lot is going down right now in the desert, but the Bidwill family has placed its trust in Arians, for at least the next four years.
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