Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians has agreed to a four-year contract to become the next head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, reports ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Arians, 60, served as the Colts' interim head coach for 12 games this season while head coach Chuck Pagano underwent treatment for leukemia. The Colts went 9-3 under Arians and finished 11-5 on the season, earning a spot in the AFC Playoffs. Despite starting rookies at quarterback (Andrew Luck), running back (Vick Ballard) and tight end (Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen), and having third-round pick T.Y. Hilton playing a large role, the Colts ranked 10th in the NFL in total offense and were seventh in third down conversions.
Prior to his stint with the Colts, Arians won a pair of Super Bowls during his eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, spending the last five as the offensive coordinator. Arians was the Cleveland Browns' offensive coordinator from 2001-03 and was Peyton Manning's first quarterbacks coach with the Colts from 1998-2000.
Having coached Manning, Luck and Ben Roethlisberger, Arians' ability to work with quarterbacks was part of his appeal as a head coach this offseaosn. Arians interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles and was one of three finalists for the Chicago Bears' head coaching position, which was filed by Montreal Alouettes head coach and quarterback guru Marc Trestman.
The Cardinals have a quagmire at the quarterback position, starting four - Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer - during the 2012 season. The Cardinals have a major decision to make regarding Kolb, who is due a $2 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the 2013 league year, which begins on March 12, and are scheduled to pay Kolb a $9 million base salary in 2013.
Arians discussed the Cardinals' quarterback situation when he met with the Arizona media on Thursday.
"I’ve gone through this so many times at different places with quarterbacks," Arians said. "I think guys can improve. Guys can be coached to be better. There is a door number two somewhere. (General manager) Steve (Keim) and all the guys, they’ll find door number two.
"If not, you take the guys you’ve got, you coach them as hard as you can, and make them better."
Other candidates in Arizona included current defensive coordinator Ray Horton, whose future with the team is in doubt now that he has been passed over for the head coaching job. Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was also a candidate, but was hired for the San Diego Chargers' head coaching position. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell also interviewed with the Cardinals.
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