Just days after his team secured their seventh win of a long and frustrating 2017 season, reports came out that Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians had notified the team of his desire to leave after the completion of the season. Subsequent reports from national and local media have been contradictory. In a press conference on Tuesday, Arians stated he has not given the team notice that he will not return in 2018. Arians said the news of his departure were fake reports.
Arians Leads Revival
Arians came to Arizona in 2013, after a year in Indianapolis coaching Andrew Luck as offensive coordinator. While with the Colts, Arians became interim head coach as Chuck Pagano battled cancer. The Arians led Colts made the playoffs that season with what was considered a sub-par roster. The success opened the door for Arians’ first NFL head coaching gig in the desert.
The 2013 Arizona Cardinals were a team on the rise. Arians had taken over a team languishing in mediocrity. After improbable playoff runs in 2008 and 2009 under Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals struggled to contend. By 2012 the team was without two key parts on offense, quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
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In the three seasons prior to taking over, Arizona had not finished better than 8-8 and twice finished 5-11 for the season. A change was made to Arians and the Cardinals instantly looked like a contender. The renegade head coach brought in veteran quarterback Carson Palmer to lead the charge on offense. Palmer was looking at retirement after a failed stint in Oakland with the Raiders. In 2013 the team finished at 10-6 but failed to make the playoffs in a stacked NFC.
Reached Their Peak?
The 2014 and 2015 season saw the Cardinals take leaps forward as the team reached the playoffs but could not get past the Carolina Panthers. In 2014 the team lost in the wild card round against the Panthers. 2015 saw the Cardinals dominate most of the NFC before an injury to Tyrann Mathieu seemed to turn the momentum of the team. The Cardinals defense wasn’t the same without the Honey Badger and the offense was forced to carry the load. The season ended in Carolina amid Palmer interceptions and big plays given up by the Arizona defense. It was a disappointing loss for a team poised for a championship.
The subsequent two years haven’t gone as planned due to poor offensive line play and inconsistent quarterback play. 2017 ended before it started with the loss of David Johnson in the opener and Palmer just a few weeks later. Perhaps the strains of another difficult season and unmet expectations have taken a toll. Perhaps the losses have added up and the fire isn’t there. Or perhaps the reports are indeed fake and the renegade coach still wants to go for it all. Maybe, for a moment, the national media has forgotten the man with the Kangol hat owns a .614 win percentage. For Cardinals fans and rest of the NFL, it’s time to wait and see if Arians remains willing to risk it for the biscuit.