ESPN's Merril Hoge sat down with Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. The usual topics came up -- his Coach of the Year award, Chuck Pagano, and then he was asked about Carson Palmer and Tyrann Mathieu.
This is what he said, and then some thoughts:
On being Coach of the Year:
"It means a helluva lot of people did a helluva lot of good work, because I really didn't do anything. Chuck (Pagano) had laid a great foundation. We just continued to go day-to-day."
On how being head coach:
"I kind of got a nice gradual year practice session, you know? I knew that if I became a head coach, I wanted to call plays, because that's what the most fun in the game for me, and I knew I could do it. Having done it in that situation, I knew if we had time to prepare and the staff prepared it would be easy for me."
On Carson Palmer and his fit with Arizona:
"I think the biggest think is his experience level. He's tough as nails. He's as good a deep ball thrower as I've ever seen, I mean really accurate on the deep ball. He still has it. What he did last year with the Raiders in a crazy situation, I thought was very impressive."
On Tyrann Mathieu and drafting him despite his troubles:
"Patrick Peterson stands on the table for him, who I hold in dear regard, his opinion. As a head coach, I lean strongly on my players, especially the leaders to give me good advice. This is a situation where we thought that the risk and the reward were the perfect timing."
On Chick Pagano and cancer:
"My heart just sank. I almost fell off the porch. Mr. Irsay (Colts owner Jim Irsay) called me in and asked me to take over, and I said 'I will take the job.' I said 'I only have one request, that we turn on the light in his office and it never goes off until he steps back in the building.' I said, 'we have a head coach, I'm not the head coach. We have a head coach; we're just keeping the seat warm for him."
On Pagano's return:
"That will get emotional. Christmas Eve. We had our normal game planning meetings and I was walking out of the building. All of a sudden I looked and the light was off and I had to get in the car and dry up some tears before I could drive home. So it was an extremely emotional night; the best Christmas I ever had. Winning two Super Bowls, losing a Super Bowl, those highs and lows, don't touch first of all seeing him get healthy and then when he came out of the tunnel against Houston, that's as good as it gets for me."
Now, if you have followed the Bruce Arians hiring, you have heard the Chuck Pagano story and all about the lights being left on and then how he felt when Pagano came back and the lights went out. There is nothing new there.
This is what I get out of the interview.
I was very impressed with what he said about getting input from players. There is a very fine balance as a leader you must have. You have to be willing to make unpopular decisions for the good of the team, but you also want your players to feel like their opinions matter. History says that Arians knows how to maintain that balance, but that has not been as a head coach.
If Mathieu works out, then Peterson and Arians look like geniuses. However, as the team has looked in the past with Larry Fitzgerald, you don't want to appear to be letting your players make personnel decisions. Input is okay, but big input is another thing.
The other thing that sticks out is how much he is beating the Carson Palmer drum. Of course he is going to talk up a player he has on his team, specially his starting quarterback. However, he is also setting himself up to look like he is not cut out to be a head coach if Palmer is not up to the task. If you do believe Arians, then you have to like what you are hearing about Palmer and what he can produce on offense this season. When Ray Horton said that the Cardinals would be "winning games 38-10," you get the feeling that it might not exactly be hyperbole.
What else stands out to you?
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