Colts: Bruce Arians’ rise after leaving Indy gives us mixed feelings
Bruce Arians establishing himself as an elite head coach after leaving Indy in 2012 won’t sit well with Colts fans.
Let it be known that we are wholeheartedly satisfied with the direction the Indianapolis Colts are headed. Sure, their coaching staff was pillaged this past week, but they still have an elite general manager-head coach partnership and a handful of cornerstone pieces to build around.
On top of that, their worrisome quarterback conundrum has all of a sudden become incredibly fixable as a trio of star gunslingers — Deshaun Watson, Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers — could become available on the trade market this offseason.
With that out of the way, we can now say (hopefully) without getting chastised that fans in Indy have every reason to be annoyed that Bruce Arians has managed to establish himself as a top-drawer head coach after he settled into “retirement” after leaving the Steelers, and that only one of those seasons came with the Colts.
Just a month after his shocking settlement, Arians agreed to become the Colts’ offensive coordinator and was thrust into the interim head coaching role when Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia just four weeks into the season. Those were lofty shoes to fill to begin with, and the fact that he attempted to fill them under those extenuating circumstances as his first head coaching experience in the NFL couldn’t have been easy.
As we know, Arians went on to enjoy great success with the Colts that season, finishing with a 9-3 record and rightfully taking home Coach of the Year honors in the process. His seamless transition prompted countless analysts and fans to tab him as their potential coach of the future.
Before that discussion even had time to breathe, however, Arians inked a four-year contract with the Cardinals to become their next head coach. He held that position for five years before retiring after the 2017 season amid health concerns and was eventually coerced into taking over a star-studded Buccaneers team in 2019.
Between all of that, Arians, for reasons we will never understand, seemingly didn’t think twice about forgoing retirement to fill the Colts’ head coaching vacancy in 2018 after they fired Pagano following his third consecutive season of missing the playoffs.
Again, we are firm believers that Frank Reich was the right hire. It’s just strange to think about Arians’ rise in the head coaching ranks after his sole season of dominance in Indianapolis, and the fact that he opted against returning to Indy three years ago despite being familiar with the culture and certain members of the roster.