Bruce Arians always wished to coach his very own NFL team.
The chance has arrived, and not how he wanted it to go. He will be replacing an old friend on an interim basis in the middle of a season due to a serious illness. The longtime NFL offensive coordinator has no illusions about the job as he makes an attempt to help the Colts get better while everyone hopes coach Chuck Pagano returns shortly from leukemia treatments.
”This isn’t a head coaching job for me right now,” Arians declared after being named Indy’s interim coach Monday. ”It’s merely an expanded role as coordinator until Chuck comes back.”
Arians was an obvious choice.
The Colts’ front office followed Pagano’s advice and hired Arians, an assistant who had coached with or against Pagano for the better part of ten years. He’s someone who mentored 3 QBs selected No. 1 overall (Peyton Manning, Tim Couch and now Andrew Luck) and has the same kind of character that hooked the Colts on Pagano.
Team owner Jim Irsay and new GM Ryan Grigson also liked his previous experience in Indy and his resume.
Arians also played a key role in the development of Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger and won 2 Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers- one as the receivers coach, the other as offensive coordinator – before his forced retirement early on in the year. He spent 2 seasons as Paul ”Bear” Bryant’s QBs coach at Alabama and 6 seasons as Temple’s head coach.
”He’s a veteran. He knows this game well. He has got a great synergy with the staff and with Chuck,” Grigson announced. ”He’s going to be in a position to cross that gap between Chuck and himself and this team because they (the assistants) have a society on that staff like I’ve never seen. Chuck’s our brother, and we are all here for him. Bruce is the person to lead us forward while our leader is down.”
Arians understands this predicament trouble better than most.
In 20 years as an NFL helper, Arians has seen and done just about everything. And 5 years back, Arians was the one being diagnosed as having cancer. He needed a radical prostatectomy just before the NFL draft.
”That phone call isn’t a fun one,” Arians recalled. ”I was sitting in my office and they kept telling me there isn’t anything wrong, nothing wrong and then the doctor calls and tell you you’ve got cancer. You actually don’t remember the next 24 hours. … I could tell you I could hardly drive home. It’s devastating to get that message. Then you figure out, like we always do, what is the plan.”
The plan in Indy is to let Arians be the boss briefly. Vegas odds
Players generally accept.
”Coach Arians and I spoke briefly about making sure the communication is not lost, so I do not think it will be,” Luck said. ”He’s seen all in the world of football, so I’m sure he’ll do a great job and still manage somehow to keep his (finger on the) heartbeat of everything the offense is doing.”