Bruce Arians: On Bear Bryant, Love Of The Long Ball, And Why The Game Should Survive

The MMQB: What will you miss the most?

Arians: The players. Those relationships, watching guys grow. From the Andrew Lucks to the Ricky Seals-Joneses … the great players, and then the guys that have no chance and they work and improve and then they can play with the guys that are great. You miss that. That’s what I’ve done for my whole life so I’ll miss that.

I actually played golf for the first time today, and I left my phone in my locker. Wow, that’s a big step. The guys [at the course] are kidding me. “Only six days, and we’ve seen you four.” I said, “Well, I wasn’t here for a year and a half!”

The MMQB: Think you can find something to replace coaching?

Arians: No.

The MMQB: What would your old mentor, Bear Bryant, think about your career?

Arians: I would hope he’d be proud. There is one person now that is still coaching who was under coach Bryant too, and that’s [running backs coach] Sylvester Croom with the Titans. We were on the same staff together. I would think [Bryant] would be proud of the way we did it. I always remembered his best advice: Coach ’em hard, hug ’em later. We coached ’em hard and we hugged ’em later. And the last thing he would say is, Keep your damn head down when you’re playing golf.

The MMQB: As the game evolved into more of a controlled, short-passing style, you didn’t change. You always took shots downfield, and took pride in being sort of anti-West Coast. Why?

Arians: History says you cannot nickel-and-dime your way in the NFL. You have to have chunk plays. And our goal was to have six chunks every game, and hopefully two of those chunks were touchdowns. The statistics would say you would win those games. I respect Bill Walsh. I hate the West Coast offense. I do love the style and understand it, but unless you have Joe Montana and guys like Jerry Rice who would take a five-yard pass and go 25—and that’s okay because we kind of turned into that some in later years because we couldn’t protect, and we had that in our offense—but those chunk plays, man that’s what I love and that’s what I believe in. When I played quarterback, I lived for that play, and I guess that really goes back to that wishbone philosophy: We’re going to run, run, run, but when we throw, we want a big-play touchdown.

Even with David Johnson in the last couple years, out of the backfield, we’d use him deep. Some of the times, he was the one going deep because he was the mismatch. You have to find the mismatch and what safeties are going to bite. It’s like throwing a lure out in the lake and you know that big bass that is going to jump. It depends which one of those two safeties is back there because he is going to jump on that lure and we’ll get that touchdown.

The MMQB: You and Carson Palmer …

Arians: A match made in heaven. Still the best deep-ball thrower I have ever seen, and I have had some great ones. But his deep ball was just a thing of beauty. He threw it effortlessly, and it just dropped on a dime every time.

>• A PETER KING CLASSIC, PART I: Installing a Game Plan, with Carson Palmer and Bruce Arians

>?• A PETER KING CLASSIC, PART II: Palmer, Arians and the Cardinals’ Game Plan in Action

The MMQB: Why should football survive?

Arians: Young men can’t learn life lessons in other sports the way they do in football. It’s tough. You learn yourself. You learn who you really are. You learn how to be a man playing this game. I played all those other sports. I know the risks in football, and there is new information coming out. I really wish that someone would study CTE in soccer players, hockey players, other than just football players. My wife was in two bad car accidents. I would love to know if she has a chance of having some problem and how they would fix it.

The MMQB: The game will miss you.

Arians: Hopefully I get to join your side, in the media. I hope to continue some kind of a career in television, and start some new journey that gets me excited to be around people and stay in the game. I hope it works out. I’ll probably have to give a whole paycheck back for cussing all the time on the air, but I would love to do it.

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