Posted on December 26, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Bruce Arians may be gearing up for his final game as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. According to a report from Pro Football Weekly published Tuesday morning, Arians and the Cardinals will part ways after Sunday’s regular-season finale. The two sides will reportedly part on good terms. While it’s possible the 65-year old Arians will only take a hiatus from coaching, it’s also possible this will mark the end of his coaching career.
Health issues appear to be at the center of Arians’ decision to walk away from coaching at the end of the season. Arians previously beat prostate cancer. He also battled health issues during the 2016 season, including kidney cancer. It’s unclear if there’s a specific health ailment that may have pushed him to leave coaching. But not having the burden of being an NFL coach will likely be what’s best for Arians from a health standpoint.
It’s also been a couple of frustrating years on the field for Arians and the Cardinals. Arizona won at least 10 games in Arians’ first three seasons at the helm. That included two playoff appearances and a trip to the NFC Championship Game in 2015. However, the Cardinals need to beat the Seahawks on Sunday in order to avoid back-to-back losing seasons.
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The current season has been particularly frustrating. The Cardinals have been decimated by injuries all season. Star running back David Johnson was lost to injury the first game of the season while quarterback Carson Palmer was lost in Week 7. The loss of Johnson, Palmer, and several offensive linemen have made it almost impossible for the Cardinals to keep up in a highly competitive NFC.
On top of the recent problems, Arizona’s future is filled with uncertainty. Palmer could very well retire after the season, leaving the Cardinals with a vacancy at quarterback. With no quarterback in place, the Cardinals enter a rebuilding phase. Considering his age and recent health problems, Arians may not be up for such a project.
With Arians on his way out, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald may be next. Fitzgerald is reportedly on the fence about coming back for one more season or not. If Arians doesn’t return, it makes it less likely that Fitzgerald will want to play one more year. That further points to the need for the Cardinals to begin to rebuild.
Fortunately, both owner Michael Bidwill and GM Steve Keim appear to be onboard with Arians’ decision to leave. Instead of trying to take one more crack at competing for a Super Bowl in 2018, the Cardinals can bring in a new head coach and start to reshape their roster for the future. That will likely be in Arizona’s long-term interest.
In his coaching career, Arians has a record of 57-33-1. That includes time spent as the interim head coach of the Colts in 2012 before he came to Arizona. He twice one AP Coach of the Year. He’s had a good run in Arizona and now appears to be a good time for both him and the Cardinals to part ways.
[Arians has since said that he has not made a decision about his future. However, an amicable exit from the Cardinals remains a distinct possibility.]