- Nick Wagoner, ESPN Staff Writer
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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is known for his gruff exterior and brutal honesty.
It's been considered one of the reasons that it took him so long to get a head coaching job. But Arians won't hesitate to let you know where he stands, so it shouldn't have been a surprise when he didn't mince words in his postgame news conference after the Cardinals beat the St. Louis Rams 12-6 on Thursday night.
Arians' comments rankled some Rams fans who felt like he needlessly took a couple of shots at the Rams. Did he need to do that? No, probably not. But I also don't think he was trying to do anything but get his 11-3 team the respect it deserves.
I wrote a little about this in the Ram-blings on Friday morning, but I wanted to revisit in light of some of the anger I've seen from Rams fans. Here's the comments from Arians with my take on each:
Arians quote: "I love it when nobody says that you will have a chance to win," Arians said. "There is an 11-3 team, and a team that is always 8-8. You figure it out."
My thoughts: Arians is understandably upset by the lack of respect his team is getting. They are leading the NFC and entered Thursday's games as underdogs. Obviously that isn't the Rams' fault, but Arians was making a larger point here that whenever his team wins, there's always an excuse for how it happened instead of credit being given. And, really, Arians is being generous. The Rams haven't had more than seven wins since 2006 and have only been 8-8 twice since 2003. However, Jeff Fisher has a long history of mediocrity on his coaching record, including five .500 finishes while coaching the Houston/Tennessee franchise. Maybe Arians could have made his point in a different way, but he was speaking truth here and his overall point about being an underdog to a team that was 6-7 entering the game while his team had 10 wins and a victory over the Rams is valid.
Arians quote: "Everybody wanted to say how great their defense is, but I think they saw a good defense tonight and it was in red and white," Arians said. "I am very proud of our guys."
My thoughts: This was a little bit more head-scratching. Arians' offense only mustered 12 points and had just 274 yards of offense. The Cardinals defense did outplay the Rams' defense but it's not like the Rams defense was any sort of slouch. Again, this seems to go back to Arians' perception of a lack of respect. The Rams defense was getting a lot of credit going into the game, credit it earned beyond the scope of a two-game shutout streak (this is the same defense that completely shut down Denver's high powered offense) but the point Arians clearly wanted to make was that his defense deserves some attention, too.
All things considered, this is all relatively harmless. If you were one of those laughing last week when Fisher had some fun at Washington's expense with his coin-toss captains and then doubled down when asked about it the next day, you can't then complain when another coach tosses a mostly accurate barb in your direction.
Arians and the Cardinals have done an amazing job of overcoming injuries, suspensions and all sorts of adversity this season and should be commended for it. If he wants to get his guys a little more love, more power to him.
Besides, the NFC West already has plenty of fun rivalries, so why not add one more? It's a safe bet that Fisher will store Arians' comments away for when the teams meet again in 2015. He's probably even already picked out No. 88 Lance Kendricks as one of his coin-toss captains.