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Bruce Arians’ Andrew Luck story shows he and Chris Ballard place similar value on competition

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Indianapolis Colts v Arizona Cardinals

Bruce Arians has been around the league a long time, but after his 2012 stint with the Indianapolis Colts he has cemented a pretty firm place in the hearts of most Colts fans. During Chuck Pagano’s battle with cancer, Arians took over and led a team devoid of talent through an emotional rollercoaster of a season that ended with an 11-5 record and a playoff berth just one year after a miserable 2-14 season.

Arians is known for his colorful language, candid answers, deep passing offense, and having coached some of the best quarterbacks in the game including Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. He is also one of the most endearing coaches in the game today because he genuinely seems to care about his players and his coaching staff. He even has rules for his staff about not missing family functions, making sure they don’t put their families on the back burner during the football season. Those characteristics are all parts of what made Colts fans love him, and also what made him so popular on the first season of All or Nothing: A Season With the Arizona Cardinals.

In a recent appearance on Pat McAfee’s podcast, Arians was interviewed about his new book “The Quarterback Whisperer: How to Build an Elite NFL Quarterback” and he told a story about Andrew Luck’s rookie season that Colts fans will appreciate.

In the story Arians said that Luck had missed all of OTA’s because, as we know, he was finishing his degree at Stanford. But apparently the day he arrived for his first practice with the team, he torched the Colts secondary.

The next day, Arians dressed in all black and strolled right through the group of defensive backs who were stretching in preparation for the day’s practice.

Antoine Bethea asked him, “Where are you going? You going to a funeral?”

Arians’ response was, “Yeah, y’all’s. Andrew killed you!”

While this story is definitely funny, McAfee’s comments that followed made it even more interesting as he talked about how competitive the environment was between the offense and defense and how he had never seen an offensive coordinator trash talk with the defense. You can check the whole interview out here, it picks up at the 1:07:32 mark.

Arians mentioned that same thing in a different part of the interview when talking about what makes an elite quarterback. He used one of Chuck Pagano’s favorite words, “grit” when describing the most important quality in a quarterback, and also talked about how all great quarterbacks are relentlessly competitive in everything they do.

Since he arrived as the Colts GM, Chris Ballard has preached competition. In fact, I am not sure there is a word he has said more often than that one. Nearly every interview and press conference about what he hopes to accomplish has included it. If he is to be believed, the idea of competition will dictate every move the team makes, every position battle that is decided, and every game plan that is formed.

This should be encouraging to Colts fans. If it is done right and they follow through on it, the days of a soft, coddled Colts roster will be long gone. Teams that value competition over sentimentality, and trophies over banners, don’t operate the same way.

That competitive nature, and the idea that the new general manager wants to foster it is what gives me hope that the Colts won’t continue to toil in mediocrity for long.