Cards have changed in year under Arians

January, 17, 2014
Jan 17
4:30
PM ET
TEMPE, Ariz. -- A year ago today, the Arizona Cardinals' fortunes changed.

And they changed for the better.

It was Jan. 17, 2013, when Bruce Arians was introduced as the team’s 38th head coach and, if they’re lucky, he might be the Cardinals’ best. Arians brought his own way of doing things to the desert. After more than 40 years in the game -- including 21 in the NFL -- Arians saw what worked for head coaches and what didn’t. He saw how they won, how they lost. How they earned players’ respect and how they lost it.

He took the best of his mentors and his former bosses and became the result.

[+] EnlargeArizona's Bruce Arians
AP Photo/Rick ScuteriBruce Arians has quickly raised the level of expectations for Arizona fans.
Along his long and winding road to becoming a head coach at 60, Arians developed his own style and his own approach. He wants to win by simply coaching football. He’s not one for all the periphery. He cares about what happens with his staff, in his locker room, and on his field. The rest? It’s just there.

That’s why he’ll be successful in Arizona. He isn't caught up in why the Cardinals have been mired in losing. He’s looking forward. It’s taken him so long to get here that Arians doesn’t have time to look back. He makes decisions and sticks with them -- something that hasn’t been seen around the Cardinals in a few years.

Not to mention he’s an offensive genius, but that’s for another day.

I’ve written it before, but Arians has changed the culture of the organization. There have been coaches who ruled with an iron fist and dictated with fear. Not Arians. Like he said during his end-of-season news conference, he really is like your favorite uncle. His “Hey, baby” greeting to everyone and anyone -- good days or bad -- just shows what kind of person he is. Like his players, he wants everyone around the franchise to do their jobs and do them well. With more coaches searching for more power these days, it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t need to control everything. He works with general manager Steve Keim to put together the best roster they can, but it’s always a “Cardinal decision,” as Arians likes to call it.

He’s been a breath of fresh air to the Cardinals. And with that, he’s brought wins. It’s only been one season, but Arians proved he was worth the risk. So many teams passed on hiring Arians at one point or another, except for the Cardinals. They took a chance, and now he’s rewarding them.

Ten wins would have been cause for a ticker-tape parade through Central Avenue most seasons. Last season was different. Fans were asking why the Cardinals didn’t win 11, or 12, or make the playoffs? After three straight years of average or bad football, to have a mindset and culture change that quickly is impressive.

And it only took Arians a year.

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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