In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired Bruce Arians as their new head coach. So what makes Bruce Arians such a successful hire? Let’s take a deep dive into the career of BRuce Arians.
Bruce Arians is the Buccaneers head coach, let that sink in for a moment. Many Buccaneers fans, including myself, are thankful for the ownership and Jason Licht to get this deal done. So why is everyone salivating over this guy, first things first he’s been around for a long time.
Bruce Arians has been a coach of football since 1975 when he was a graduate assistant at Virginia Tech, where he also played quarterback. It may not look like it now but Arians led the Hokies in rushing touchdowns by a quarterback for 42 years, broken in 2016. An extra nugget from his time at Virginia Tech is that his roommate was James Barber, father of Tiki and Ronde.
From there he became a position coach for Mississippi State and Alabama for four years. Temple gave him his first head coaching opportunity where he would make some connections that are still with him today, Clyde Christensen and Todd Bowles.
Five years after coaching the Owls of Temple, he got his first opportunity in the NFL. The Kansas City Chiefs hired him as their running backs coach. He worked with Christian Okoye, the Nigerian Nightmare, who in his first year had 1480 yards and 12 touchdowns. There he became close friends with soon to be Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher who was the defensive coordinator at the time.
BACK AND FORTH
He then continued to bounce around from college to NFL going back to Mississippi State, the New Orleans Saints, back to Alabama then finally to the Indianapolis Colts. After his tenure in Alabama as offensive coordinator in 1997 he has not been back to the college ranks.
In 1998 he was hired by Jim Mora to coach up rookie quarterback Peyton Manning for the Colts. He wasn’t there very long and in 2001 was hired as the Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator. In 2002 he helped the Browns make the playoffs and they haven’t been back since. Arians was inexplicably fired by Butch Davis in 2003 and then rejoined his buddy Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh as their wide receivers coach.
After four years of being the wide receivers coach and one Super Bowl win, he was promoted to offensive coordinator. Bill Cowher resigned as the Steelers Head Coach but Mike Tomlin, his successor kept him on the staff. In his first season, Bruce Arians got Ben Roethlisberger to the Pro-Bowl for the first time in his career. He won his second Super Bowl in 2008 with the Steelers securing his second ring.
After 2011 his contract was not picked up and he “retired” for the first time. It didn’t last long as Chuck Pagano, who worked with him in Cleveland, request him to be the offensive coordinator for the Colts and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. His first and only year with the Colts was a wild one as he was thrown into the fire as the interim head coach, as Chuck Pagano was battling cancer.
It was all uphill for him from there. Arians took a team that went 2-14 the year before and flew up to 11-5, 9-3 solely under Bruce. His success led him the first ever interim head coach to win AP Coach of the Year. The Colts would in the Wild Card round but the success of the Colts helped get Bruce Arians hired as the Arizona Cardinals head coach.
In 2013 the Cardinals won 10 games under Bruce Arians, the second coach in franchise history to win more than nine games in their first year. They didn’t qualify for the playoffs but because they doubled their win total from the year before the Cardinals were not to be underestimated with Arians at the helm.
In 2014 Bruce Arians won his second coach of the year after starting 9-1 before losing starting quarterback Carson Palmer and second string quarterback Drew Stanton got them knocked them out in the first round of the playoffs. In 2015 the Cardinals went 13-3 eventually losing to the offensive juggernaut Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championships.
After that season the Cardinals age and injury woes continued and they went 15-16-1 in the next two seasons. Arians then retired after the 2017 season in which the Cardinals knocked division rival Seattle Seahawks out of the playoffs in his last game as their head coach. He has battled cancer three times in his life and wanted to focus primarily on his health instead of coaching for the first time in 42 years. BA finished his coaching career with a 58-33-1 record as a head coach, fourth-most wins in that time frame.
RETIREMENT/ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
This past year he wasn’t away from the game as he joined CBS’s broadcast team of Greg Gumbel and Trent Green, replacing Steve Tasker. Based on recent reports he wasn’t expecting broadcasting to be as tedious helping push him back into the arms of an NFL locker room.
Bruce is a no-nonsense but player-friendly coach. He will let you know if you’re doing something right or wrong and will work with players to fix it. If you want an example from Willie Colon, former offensive linemen for the Steelers, he had some powerful words about his coaching style, which you can listen to here. A self-proclaimed quarterback whisperer, the title of his autobiography, Arians has worked with some of the best and they have gotten results because of it.
Luckily for us Buccaneers fans Jason Licht was the Director and Vice President of player personnel and made a connection with Arians as he was a the head coach. Without Jason Licht, Bruce likely would still be commentating or possibly as the Cleveland Browns head coach. It’s a great time to be a Buccaneers fan as they finally have a head coach who’s a proven winner, motivator, and leader that the fans can rally behind.