The Cardinals hired Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians as their new head coach Thursday.
From the outset, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said the search for a new head coach wasn't going to happen at "lightning speed."
The Cards took their time – indeed, ending up as the last of eight NFL teams who needed new head coaches to fill that spot -- but Thursday night, finally got their man when Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians agreed to a new four-year contract with a team option for a fifth year.
Arians, who had been the runner-up to Marc Trestman for the Chicago Bears job, was the last candidate the Cardinals interviewed. He too had to wait for his chance.
"I never thought it was going to come," Arians said Thursday night after accepting the job. "I appreciate it so much. I will give it every single thing I have. The passion and energy I bring to this is something I love to do."
Earlier Thursday, before he had been offered the job, Arians said he wasn't sure why head coaching opportunities hadn't come sooner. Coaching on successful playoff teams may have been a factor, he said, missing on chances when needy teams wanted to quickly fill spots.
"Hey, I'll take the Super Bowl ring and look back later," Arians said. "You can't worry about why you never got one or why have you got one this time. I'm just happy it happened, and I look forward to seeing what's made of it and what turns out."
What turned out was Arians' first full-time head coaching job. Arians did go 9-3 as the interim
head coach for the Colts this season when Chuck Pagano was sidelined while battling leukemia, and Arians could still possibly win the NFL's coach of the year honors for that work. But that's just an extra while Arians finally gets his first permanent gig.
The 60-year-old has 20 years of NFL coaching experience. In Indianapolis last season, he brought along rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to a record-breaking season while helping guide the Colts to the playoffs after a 2-14 season in 2011.
The eight seasons before that, Arians was first the receivers coach and then the offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I just got off the phone with Coach," wide receiver Andre Roberts said. "I'm personally excited and looking forward to meeting him and learning the new system. Our future is in good hands."
The next step will be building his coaching staff. Reports Thursday night were that the Cardinals would move on from defensive coordinator Ray Horton. In his press conference earlier Thursday, Arians said it was "too early" to talk about staff. Horton, who is under contract another season and would have to be released from that, reportedly is upset he did not get the head coaching job.
If Horton is replaced – reports have Todd Bowles, who actually interviewed for the Cards' head coaching job in 2007, being that person – Arians will likely have more jobs to fill. Right now, Horton and the entire defensive staff from 2012 remain in place. Bowles is also under contract, in Philadelphia, where the Eagles too have a new head coach in Chip Kelly.
Arians said Thursday night he is excited to get his staff in place, and that will only be the first step of the offseason. There are decisions to be made on the roster, not the least of which what will happen at quarterback.
Arians worked with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh and then Andrew Luck last season in Indianapolis. The Cards must figure out what to do with Kevin Kolb, but Kolb was optimistic about the change.
"I've heard great things about Bruce Arians, not only as a coach but as a person," Kolb said. "I look forward to working with him and winning a lot of games."
Arians will get an extra minicamp at some point as a first-year head coach. He will be introduced through a full official press conference Friday at 1 p.m. at the Cardinals' Tempe complex.
"There is so much excitement," Arians said after getting the job. "The more I got to meet with everyone here the more I got excited for the opportunity. I knew it was the right fit for me."