In this morning’s Monday Morning Quarterback piece, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King interviewed former Colts’ offensive coordinator (and interim head coach) Bruce Arians, who is now the Arizona Cardinals head coach after taking over in the desert in 2013.
Nov 2, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Arians is a very quirky NFL coaching personality, being described in the piece by a former player as, “Rex Ryan without the bravado”. However, make no mistake about it, he’s one of the best offensive minds in the game, and it’s a testament to his coaching job that the Arizona Cardinals are 7-1 and have the best record in the NFL.
In turn, he has pretty much resurrected the career of Cardinals’ starting QB Carson Palmer, who’s having a terrific season. Palmer has 11 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on the season at age 34, in what has been a revival season.
It was a very insightful read, and one that I truly recommend for all Colts’ fans. Of course, Arians had the honor of serving as the Quarterbacks coach to QB Peyton Manning with the Colts during 1998-2000, as well as the offensive coordinator to QB Andrew Luck in 2012.
Among the notable Colts’ tidbits are Arians describing Luck as a “perfect student” of the game:
"With the young quarterbacks, it’s easier. Like with Andrew Luck [in Indianapolis, 2012, when Arians was his first offensive coordinator in the NFL]. He loved it. I would say, ‘Andrew, this is easy. I don’t care if it’s third-and-three, if you’ve got T.Y. Hilton deep, throw it.’ We got along great. He was the perfect student.”"
For an offensive guru that has coached the likes of Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger, that is high praise indeed.
It wasn’t all easy thrills for Arians in 2012 though. He also details the both difficult and stressful situation of filling-in for Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano, who was then fighting leukemia in 2012:
"“I made that real easy for myself, and for everyone there. I never allowed anyone to call me the head coach. I never assumed I would be the head coach. Chuck was the head coach every day he was gone. I simply expanded my role, like, ‘We’re going for it on fourth down.’ I made sure everyone knew who the head coach was. We had Chuck’s locker set up every game. No one took his seat on the bus. No one ever turned the lights off in his office."
Lastly, he goes on to describe his relationship with QB Peyton Manning as the Colts’ quarterbacks coach during Manning’s rookie season in 1998:
"“I always think coaching’s more fun in the hard times, when they’re just learning. I loved coaching Peyton Manning. The early times were great. I remember in New England his rookie year, he’d just thrown about his fifth interception of the day [actually third] and we’re getting killed [29-0 early in the fourth quarter]. He comes over to the sidelines and I say, ‘Dude, you’re not coming out of the game. We’re going no-huddle now. You’re gonna learn something now.’"
It’s sometimes easy to forget that the future hall of famer and all-time great in QB Peyton Manning, actually led the league in interceptions with 28 during his rookie season. However, Arians has always been the willing teacher and the ultimate quarterback “sensei” with a proven track record of success.
However, don’t let me spoil everything, please read the article for yourself!