INDIANAPOLIS – Bruce Arians is new to the NFC West as the recently hired head coach of the Cardinals. But he’s no stranger to Seahawks fans.
That was evident – not to mention obvious – when he stepped to the podium in the media center at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday wearing a large Super Bowl ring (is there any other kind?)
Asked about it, Arians said it was from Super Bowl XL. That just happens to be the Super Bowl the Seahawks lost to the Steelers in 2006, when Arians was the wide receivers coach in Pittsburgh.
“The players like it,” he said when asked why he was wearing that particular ring. “The other one’s too big to wear.”
That would be Arians’ ring from Super Bowl XLIII, when Pittsburgh beat the Cardinals and he was the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.
Arians makes the jump to Arizona after being the interim head coach of the Colts last season, taking over after Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with cancer. That fact made Arians’ return to Lucas Oil Stadium an emotional – as well as surreal – experience.
“The people, the relationships that happened in this building last year are very, very special,” he said. “I’d always said I wasn’t going to be a head coach just to be one. It had to be the right fit to leave Indianapolis, because I had the greatest job in the world right here.
“The biggest thing last year, I watched a dear friend get healthy.”
And he does know what he’s getting into with the move to the vastly improved NFC West – where the 49ers advanced to the Super Bowl, the Seahawks came within a two-point loss to the Falcons of playing the 49ers in the NFC Championship game and the Rams improved to 7-8-1.
“It’s a dynamic division, with two really good young quarterbacks,” Arians said of the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson and the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick. “But mostly, they’ve got great defenses.
“It’s an outstanding division. It reminds me a lot now of the AFC North, the way the teams are running the football and playing defense. Each division is extremely difficult, but right now the West is very tough.”