Arians doesn’t think a turnaround will be hard

by Gary Shelton on January 11, 2019 · 2 comments

in general

Arians seems comfortable with his new team.

Friday, 4 a.m.

Maybe we've been looking at this all wrong. Maybe the problem isn't that Bruce Arians is too old.

Maybe the problem is that all of those other head coaches were too young.

Bruce Arians slipped on the Tampa Bay coaching job Thursday as if it were a comfortable old shoe. He didn't seem awed by the job, and he didn't make bold statements, and he didn't try to convince everyone in the room that he belonged. He was just Bruce, just the new Uncle Joe of the franchise, and he seemed as if he felt he belonged.

Hey, he is 66, and he's had a few of these opening press conferences. No new coach has ever lost an opening press conference, and no has ever left

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Arians has been coach of the year twice.

the room without being impressed. But say this for Arians: He doesn't seem scared by the past of the organization, or by the quarterback he has inherited, or by the talent level on hand.

Maybe someone should warn him, you think. The dragons that surround this castle have always been fierce, and they've eaten a lot of coaching careers over the years. But maybe that's why general manager Jason Licht calls him "the coolest damn coach in the NFL."

Then there is Bruce, a friendly sort and a good smile. He ain't afraid of no ghosts.

“I don’t think very hard at all," Arians said of the job ahead of him. "I think there is an excellence base of talent here. I don’t think that will be an issue when we take the field next year. Just playing smarter. We’ll get to work right away, get the coaches right in here to evaluate the roster. What can we do to improve the roster at every position.

"I really can’t wait. We'll get this coaching staff in here next week and get them acclimated. I'll tell the team in the first meeting: Talent will not be an issue.  I’m don’t have any speeches that make you a winner. You decide if you want to win. You’ll  be accountable to each other for every decision you make."

He is 66 now, but his energy is good, and he passed a team physical.

“He’s sharp as hell," Licht said. "He’s a great leader. He’s a great motivator. He knows how to delegate.  He’s a lot of fun to be with. I  don’t seeing age being an issue.

Oh, some might. No Super Bowl winning coach has ever been as old as Arians (not the Bucs are knocking at the door). Doubtless, there are owners in the league who would not have hired Arians. And perhaps that speaks worse of them than it does the Bucs. Hey, no one is asking Arians to run a fly pattern.

Arians, himself, has seen older coaches bypassed in the league. Tom Moore never got a shot. Dick LeBeau got only a brief one. Howard Mudd was bypassed. Eventually, owners stop seeing you as a candidate.

"Experience matters in this league," Arians said.

Oh, granted, Sam Wyche was confident when he came in, and Lovie Smith believed in his quarterback, and Raheem Morris was dismissing any talk of his (young) age. That's the problem. All of the good rallying cries have been taken by mediocre coaches. The Bucs still have the same owners, the same front office, the same general manager. They're still looking up at the rest of the division.

So who is Arians? He's a confident soul who has been married to the same woman for 47 years. He's the "quarterback whisperer." He's the guy who told Licht in his interview that "yeah, I'm 66, but I'm 66 and sexy." He's the guy who keeps repeating the phrase "No risk it, no biscuit."

"At the beginning, we put a checklist together of the things that we were looking for in the head coach with no clear front-runner – I have that checklist right here," Licht said. "First, we wanted somebody that would command the room and command the moment and Bruce checks that. For those of you that know him, you know what I’m talking about. For those that don’t, get your earmuffs ready. We wanted somebody with a proven track record, not just as a coach, but also developing players, developing coaches – Bruce checks that. We wanted somebody that was going to bring swagger and those late ‘90s teams here in Tampa – early 2000s Super Bowl – that team was full of swag. Bruce check that. Last but not least, just that ‘It’ factor that you really can’t explain, but once again anybody that’s around Bruce know that Bruce has ‘It.’ I’ve never been around a guy that has such magnetism about him that players and coaches just instantly want to follow him when he comes.

Who is Arians? Also, there are these insights:

(On working for Bear Bryant): "The last thing Bear Bryant said to me when I went to coach Temple was 'coach them hard and hug them later.' When i coach them hard, sometimes it's real ugly. You find them later in the locker room and you say 'I’m talking about your football. Your football stinks ... but you’re a hell of a guy. Don’t take it personally. It's coaching, not criticism."

And ...

(On the task ahead): "This is a great group. I think we have the core here to win quickly. I’m not about building – I’m about reloading."

(On what he does it a player doesn't play hard): "I’ll show it up  on film and ask him what he’s doing in front of the team. I don’t have a problem with that. If you can’t play hard, you can’t play here. That’s not acceptable. We’ll have an accountability sheet, I call it. Every mental error, every penalty in practice, that’s how we start every day, with the accountability sheet. Now if you’re up there too much, you’re either too dumb to play here or you don’t give a s***. All right, so you can’t be a Buc."

And ...

(On his relationship with his quarterbacks) "I probably got fired for one of them because we were too close. Ben (Roethlisberger). They’re my sons."

And ...

(On comparing the task of taking over the Arizona Cardinals and the Bucs: “This one’s much easier, I believe. When I walked into Arizona, we had no quarterbacks. We were fortunate enough to sign Drew Stanton then trade for Carson Palmer. People want to know what’s your system? Your system’s your players. This coaching staff will build a system to what our players do. When we meet as coaches, I ask them, ‘Please don’t tell me what our players can’t do. Tell me what they can do and then build around that.’ I think the core is here and obviously some of the rooms are outstanding. There, it was a little bit further behind.”

And ...

(On Winston): “No pressure, no pressure whatsoever. I want him to relax and play the game. Talent is no issue. It’s just becoming a little bit smarter. With Clyde Christensen as his quarterback coach and Byron Leftwich – he’s going to be coached as well as he’s ever been and more prepared than he’s ever been fundamentally and mentally. It’s his team and I’ll tell our players in the first meeting, this isn’t my team, it’s your team. We’ll be as good as you want to be.”

And ...

(On his philosophy of 'no risk it, no biscuit):  "I kind of live life that way. I try to hit every par 5 in two and I put a lot of balls in the water. If you don’t try to hit it, you’re never going to hit it. I want to reach for greatness. If you don’t reach for greatness, you’ll be average the rest of your life.”

And ...

On if he can live with Winston throwing an interception: "One. You’re not going to want him throwing three. You got to protect the football. I think Clyde Christensen and Byron Leftwich will do a great job with him fundamentally, and mentally. I think he’s going to get extremely well coached, I don’t ever want him throwing that football with worrying about it getting intercepted.”

And ...

(On if there is any pressure on Winston to prove himself to a new coach in the last year of his contract):

“No pressure, no pressure whatsoever. I want him to relax and play the game. Talent is no issue. It’s just becoming a little bit smarter. With Clyde Christensen as his quarterback coach and Byron Leftwich – he’s going to be coached as well as he’s ever been and more prepared than he’s ever been fundamentally and mentally. It’s his team and I’ll tell our players in the first meeting, this isn’t my team, it’s your team. We’ll be as good as you want to be.”

Arians is the sixth head coach the Bucs have had since 2008. Asked if he thought Arians might keep the job for a while, Licht grinned and said "absolutely. Bruce lives by 'no risk it, no biscuit.' You've got to take some chances. I think we’re going to get a biscuit."

Those who are pleased by this hire are especially happy because of the coaching staff Arians is putting together: assistant head coach Harold Goodwin, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, passing game coordinator Byron Leftwich, quarterback coach Clyde Christensen, offensive line coach Sean Kugler, and defensive backs coach Kevin Ross.

Look, fans hope. Of course they do. They hunger. They ache for something better, something smarter, something sterner.


If it translates to better, that's fine, too.






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