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Bruce Arians Is Retiring, and Football Is a Little Less Fun Now

After five years of varying success with the Cardinals, the coach is stepping away

Bruce Arians AP Images/Ringer illustration

Head coach Bruce Arians announced Monday morning that he will retire from professional football after more than four decades of coaching.

Arians, 65, has endured a number of medical issues in recent years, including surgery in February to address kidney cancer and a hospitalization before the 2016 season.

Arians finishes 49-30-1 as an NFL head coach, a record that does not include his time in 2012 as Indianapolis’ interim coach while Chuck Pagano underwent cancer treatment. Arians led the Colts to a 9-3 record and a playoff berth that season and was named Coach of the Year. The following season, he was named head coach for the Arizona Cardinals, whom he quickly turned into one of the most dangerous teams in the league with an aggressive, vertical passing attack. In 2015, the Cardinals led the league in yards behind a rejuvenated, 36-year-old Carson Palmer, who was a top-four quarterback in passing yards, touchdowns, yards per attempt, and passer rating. Arizona earned a first-round bye that year and won the NFC West.

That was the highest that the Cardinals would fly. Arizona was blown out in the NFC championship game that season and the team hasn’t been above .500 since. In 2016, Palmer regressed to his previous level of play, three offensive linemen missed significant time, and the team suffered from “complacency,” according to Arians, as Arizona went 7-8-1. The 2017 season started disastrously. Running back David Johnson went down with a season-ending wrist injury in Week 1. Palmer followed him to the IR in Week 7. Without Palmer and Johnson, Arizona’s once-mighty offense was 22nd in total yards this season. And, for the second consecutive year, the Cardinals missed the playoffs.

Even with the team’s struggles the past two seasons, the Cardinals reportedly tried to convince Arians to stay on as head coach. With Arians now retired, the Cardinals will need to find a coach who can compete with the current Arizona roster, while also developing a replacement for Palmer if the Cardinals acquire a young quarterback in the offseason. Whoever the Cardinals hire, they almost certainly won’t be as colorful as Arians.