Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has stated that he will be the playcaller for the team, despite holding head coaching duties. He did it while running the Colts last season and, according to him, he does a good job of it. He said that he would give up those duties if he had someone better than he is at doing it, but for now he does not.
In a pair of different articles, including one on nfl.com, he is mentioned as one of the league's best at calling plays.
Since we have yet to actually see him in real game action with his calls, I felt it would not be a bad idea to get some reactions from those who have followed him when he called plays in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.
Brad Wells from Stampede Blue told me that he is a "very creative playcaller," with the knock that his offense "attacks down the field too often, and it forces the QB to hold the ball too long."
Wells thought highly of him.
What about his time in Pittsburgh? Neal Coolong from Behind the Steel Curtain had a lot to say. To start, he downplays play calling, calling it "overrated."
"The amount of knowledge Arians - or any NFL offensive coordinator - has is above and beyond what the average fan comprehends. However, From 2007-11, the Steelers had some high level talent on offense - Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller have all been to at least one Pro Bowl. There were a mediocre yardage offense, but a low-level scoring offense.
"We could blame playcalling, and many do. My take is Arians was too enamored with the athleticism he had at his disposal, and basically aimed for the big play instead of a more balanced approach. That eventually cost them in situational football (i.e. third downs, 2 minute drills, red zone, etc.)"
Very interesting. Arians has been HUGE on situational football and being effective in the red zone. It has been one of his major talking points in practice.
"Arians liked to allow his quarterback to get the ball deep down the field. They attacked vertically quite a bit, didn't utilize the flats very often and used the tight end as an afterthought. There are personnel groups in the NFL in which this works (New Orleans, and to an extent, Green Bay), but it never really seemed to work well in Pittsburgh.
"Or, maybe more to the point, it worked between the 20s. The Steelers were a very poor red zone team under Arians, and their lack of commitment to running the ball showed in short-yardage situations. We'd often see shotgun on 3rd-and-2, and generally, if it wasn't long-yardage, the ball didn't move.
"You'll see a lot of similarities in the film last year of the Colts. Huge burden put on the quarterback, not much commitment to the ground. It made the quarterback a star, but it also made for an unbalanced offense."
Is he as good as people say (and he says)?
"I don't think anyone in the history of organized sports is as good as Arians believes he is. He's brash, cocky and confident. I believe most coordinators are, and have to be, to some extent. Clearly the man knows more than I do, but he'd have to come up with a slew of justifiable reasons behind why his offense hasn't scored more than 24 points a game since 2007 - the only year it ever finished in the top 10 of the NFL."
Very interesting. He has the reputation of a great offensive mind, but has not had the huge results. However, he has had wins, which has to help his cause.
Now with the show being his and his alone, we get to see what he is made of when it comes to calling plays.
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