NFL.com's Ian Rapoport announced today that the Arizona Cardinals have agreed in principle with Bruce Arians to fill their head coaching vacancy.
Arians, 60, was the interim head coach for the Indianapolis Colts while Chuck Pagano missed time due to leukemia treatments. Arians led the Colts to a 9-3 record this season and set a record for most wins by an interim coach.
Arians had two other stints as an offensive coordinator in the NFL with Cleveland (2001-2003) and Pittsburgh (2007-2011) prior to this past season with the Colts. Arians has also won a pair of Super Bowl rings with the Steelers as a coach, so he knows what it takes to go all the way and win the big games.
His coaching philosophy is very offensive-oriented, which should help an Arizona team that ranked near the bottom in total offense last season. When he was the Steelers, they finished in the top twelve of scoring three of his four seasons. Pittsburgh averaged about 24 points per game in those seasons. Arizona averaged a meager 15.6 points per game this season.
Arians said his system differs from that of Ken Whisenhunt, the former Cardinals' head coach, in the Arizona Republic.
The Colts finished 10th this season with 362.4 yards per game, while Arizona was dead last at 263.1 per game. Indianapolis outscored Arizona 357-250 this season, so the Cardinals hope they can get a similar boost in 2013. There are differences in the personnel between the two teams, but it's possible that the right coaching can get Arizona's results pointed in the right direction.
The big question is, what will Arians do with Defensive Coordinator Ray Horton? Arians and Horton spent time together in Pittsburgh. If both are with the team in 2013, it could make Arizona a better team. Arizona Sports 620-AM has reported that Horton might not be retained and that Arians instead might favor Todd Bowles to come in as a replacement. Bowles spent the second half of the season as the defensive coordinator in Philadelphia following the firing of Juan Castillo in October.
Horton's defense was 17th in points allowed with 22.3 and 5th against the pass with 200 yards per game allowed. If Arizona could tighten up against the run, the Cardinals could improve on its 5-11 record from the 2012 campaign.
Arians' only other head coaching job was in college for Temple in the mid-1980s. He had a 21-39 record in six seasons, with two winning seasons of 6-5 in 1984 and 1986 (with the latter season's wins later being forfeited due to the use of an ineligible player).
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