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Bruce Arians Accepts Head Coaching Job With Arizona Cardinals

By all means, shake your head. I am.

Bob Levey

Remember when Bruce Arians told Indianapolis media that he wouldn't just take any head coaching job and leave the Colts? Yeah, me too.'s Ian Rapoport broke the news on Twitter late last night that Colts offensive coordinator and one-time interim head coach Bruce Arians was offered the head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals. Adam Schefter then reported later that Arians had accepted the job, and has signed a four-year contract.

Arians spent much of Thursday meeting with Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell and general manager Steve Keim. Arians called the opportunity in Arizona "special," which makes you wonder if the inner ear infection that prevented him from coaching in the playoffs this year didn't do something to his brain.


Even more puzzling than Arians' move to Arizona is his first decision: Dumping well-regarded defensive coordinator Ray Horton and replacing him with Todd Bowles. Bowles, as you might recall, was the man who took over as defensive coordinator of the Eagles after Andy Reid fired Juan Castillo during the 2012 regular season. The Eagles defense didn't exactly excel under Bowles' guidance. Meanwhile, the defense was about the only thing worth a damn for the Cardinals in 2012.

Last month, Arians told the media:

I’m not just gonna run away to be a head coach, I’m not gonna do that.

Well, opting to coach in Arizona is about as close as "running away to be a head coach" as one can get.

The job was not desirable for many candidates. The quarterback situation there is a mess. They have millions tied up in the injury-prone Kevin Kolb, and about the only offensive weapon worth worrying about for an opposing defense is Larry Fitzgerald.

It seems clear now that, not matter what, Arians valued being an NFL head coach over everything else. He was slated to receive a huge raise from Colts owner Jim Irsay, and he had total and complete control of the offense in Indianapolis. He left Andrew Luck and a gaggle of young talent in Indy to go coach the Cardinals, who play in the same division as the Seahawks, 49ers, and up-and-coming Rams.

By all means, shake your head. I am.

Now, after spending virtually all of their draft picks in 2012 to find players who fit Arians' offense, the Colts must scramble to find his replacement. Most likely, that replacement will bring with them a new offensive system. The timing of this isn't good, as many of the best offensive candidates, such as Ken Whisenhunt (the former head coach fired in Arizona and now replaced by Arians), have signed on with other teams.

Obviously, we wish coach Arians well (unless he coaches against the Colts), but it's hard not to look at this and make a face that screams, "what the hell?" Arians had a dream job in Indianapolis, a job many coaches would kill for. They had young talent, $43 million in cap space, and were headed in the right direction. He left it to go toil in the desert with a franchise that is considered one of the worst in football with no quarterback and an owner who is notoriously cheap.

The Cardinals have stated Arians will be introduced as coach at a 3 p.m. ET news conference today.