Jared Veldheer had been in the NFL for four years before signing with the Cardinals, but had never previously played for a man like Bruce Arians.
The veteran offensive tackle was reflecting on that Monday, talking about the aura of confidence that pervaded from his head coach. That assuredness, Veldheer said, trickled down to the players.
“Especially when there is something big on the line, like a big game or a really tough opponent,” Veldheer said. “You’re never going to blink twice when you’re playing them, just because of how you go throughout the week and the things that he says to guys, how he gets you prepared for those challenges.”
For five seasons, the Cardinals never felt like scrappy underdogs with Arians. No matter what the situation, the team believed it could win. That’s one of the reasons why it went to Seattle and captured four of five, never intimidated by the CenturyLink crowd.
There have been studies done on the results of close games, and for the most part wins and losses by one possession tend to even out. But one of Arians’ defining numbers was his uncanny ability to win those contests.
In Arians’ six season as a head coach – including the 12-game interim stint with the Colts – he went 32-12-1 in one-possession contests. He was 6-2 in such games this season, coaxing a .500 record out of a team that was besieged by injuries.
I believe some of that was his aggressive play-calling, which meant always trying to win the game instead of pleading for the clock to tick down faster. The other main facet was his demeanor, never panicking in the face of pressure.
When General Manager Steve Keim was looking to sum up Arians’ tenure on Monday, he brought up the catchphrase “no risk-it, no biscuit.” As the team searches for a new coach, Keim wants Arians’ bravado to carry over.
“No need to apologize for going for it, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do as an organization,” Keim said. “We’re going to continue to go for it.”