The emotions were swirling for Bruce Arians Saturday night as he was named the NFL Coach of the Year.
The honor came for his work with the Indianapolis Colts, after he posted a 9-3 record as the interim head coach because of regular head coach Chuck Pagano’s bout with leukemia. But as he stood on the stage accepting the award, Arians was no longer the Colts’ offensive coordinator but two weeks into his stint as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Arians said in a phone interview following the ceremony in New Orleans on Super Bowl eve. “It was such an unbelievable year. To see all the players and Colts people there, (Colts receiver) Reggie (Wayne) tonight … but I am so excited to get started on Monday. I am so excited to get to Phoenix and get going.”
Arians said the Cardinals are in “great shape” heading into the offseason. The coaching staff is in place – an official announcement should come Monday or Tuesday – and the first staff meeting is planned for Tuesday.
“(General manager) Steve (Keim) has been looking at free agency,” Arians said. We’re not behind at all.”
Arians wasn’t the only Cardinal involved in Saturday’s Super Bowl awards and honors. Former cornerback Aeneas Williams made it to the final 10 of the Hall of Fame voting for a second straight year, although Williams was not voted in.
Cardinals wide receiver
Arians gave the Cards a winner, even if it was by osmosis. Arians has talked many times of what this past season in Indianapolis meant to him. The season, however, also opened the door for the 60-year-old Arians to get his first head coaching job.
“The bonds that were created (this year in Indy) will never be broken,” said Arians, who called it different than any other season he had ever coached in his 30-plus years in the business.
“It had to be special for me to leave and when I met (Cardinals president) Michael Bidwill and Steve Keim, that was special and a great chance.”
With Saturday’s award, the transition from his recent season with the Colts has some closure as he ramps up his work with the Cardinals.
“It’s whipped cream and a cherry on top, all that stuff,” Arians said. “It’s the final chapter of an unbelievable story but now I can’t wait to get on to the next one.”