Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians had a one-on-one recently with ESPN’s Merril Hoge and talked about a number of things, including quarterback Carson Palmer and his situation with the Raiders, the “risk and the reward” of bringing in rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu and becoming interim head coach for the Colts last season.
The Cardinals brought Palmer in on a two-year deal because they believe he’s the right fit at quarterback in Arians’ aerial attack.
Last season in Oakland, Calif., Palmer put up some impressive numbers on a team that wasn’t very good (4-12). Palmer completed 61.1-percent of his passes for 4,018 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Arians talked about why Palmer’s such a good fit for the Cardinals.
“I think the biggest thing is his experience level,” Arians said. “He’s tough as nails, as good a deep-ball thrower [as] I’ve ever seen, really accurate on a deep ball.”
“What he did last year with the Raiders in a crazy situation I thought was very impressive,” Arians said.
Arians believes Mathieu will make it with the Cardinals because cornerback Patrick Peterson “stands on the table for him.”
“As a head coach, I lean strongly on my players, especially the leaders to give me good advice,” Arians said. “This is a situation where we felt the risk and the reward were perfect timing.”
Last season was an up-and-down one for Arians and the Colts. He took over the head coaching duties when Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and had to step away to get treatment and to get better.
Arians did a masterful job in Pagano’s absence, leading the team to a 9-3 record while serving in an interim basis. For that, he was named the 2012 AP Head Coach of the Year.
“It means a hell of a lot of people did a hell of a lot of good work, because I really didn’t do anything,” Arians said on the honor. “Chuck had laid a great foundation, we just continued to go day-to-day.”
Colts owner Jim Irsay came to Arians and asked him to take over for Pagano, and Arians said yes, but on one condition: the team leaves the light on in Pagano’s office until he returned.
“Christmas Eve, we had our normal game-plan meetings and I was walking out of the building, and all of a sudden I looked and the light was off,” Arians said. “I had to get in the car and dry up some tears before I could drive home. It was an extremely emotional night, the best Christmas I’ve ever had.”
Arians said those 12 games in the driver’s seat were a “practice session” for what was to come with the Cardinals.
“I knew if I became a head coach, I wanted to call plays, because that’s what the most fun is in the game for me and I knew I could do it,” Arians said. “Having done it in that situation, I knew if we had time to prepare and get a staff prepared, it’d be easy for me.”