Bruce Arians says he wants what has proven to be the most difficult job in football for the last decade. He says he wants the head coaching job for the Cleveland Browns, a position which will open up for the seventh time since 2009.
Arians told NFL.com that the Browns job is the only opening that would entice him to leave the media and rejoin the ranks of coaching.
It doesn’t quite pass the smell test.
Arians went on to say that not only is he serious about shedding the microphone after just one year, but his wife (who famously welcomed his retirement) is on board with him returning.
“I’ve always loved Cleveland,” Arians said. “The fans, shoot, one of the best groups in the league and when I called their game this past year, I got that feeling about them.”
Arians has also admitted that the last time he said he was interested in the job (earlier in November), he had ulterior motives. He was trying to get former Colts coach Chuck Pagano interested in the gig, according to NFL.com. Perhaps Arians is doing more of the same. Perhaps he’s doing his best to help Browns general manager John Dorsey generate interest in an opening which terrifies coaching free agents. After all, it is the Browns, the laughingstock of the NFL. And the job is in Cleveland. That isn’t to say the job isn’t a good one — the Browns have a tremendous amount of young talent. Still, the franchise’s constant instability won’t reassure candidates.
The Browns will need one of the best coaches on the market, but because of the negative legacy, they likely won’t get one. But if Arians stumps for the opening, perhaps he can bring a bit of reputability to the job.
Dorsey is intent upon hiring a coach who will suit quarterback Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Mayfield’s rookie season has had its ups and downs. He has completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 1,984 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions in eight games.
If he’s being genuine, Arians is not a bad candidate. With the Arizona Cardinals, Arians won the AP Head Coach of the Year twice over a three-year span. In 2015, Arians helped quarterback Carson Palmer, 36 years old at the time, enjoy the best season of his career when he threw for 4,671 yards, 35 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Even with offenses exploding under young, innovative coaches like the Rams’ Sean McVay and the Bears’ Matt Nagy, an old dog like the Chiefs’ Andy Reid has managed to stay ahead of the class. Even so, Arians doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, considering the other options. The Browns can try to lure Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley away from the college ranks. Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who was previously with the Eagles in 2017, is also a candidate generating buzz. Or the Browns could go the route of a veteran coach who may part ways with their current team, like the Packers’ Mike McCarthy or the Ravens’ John Harbaugh. But again, they might need a little help from someone like Arians to get those coaches interested.
Arians would be a consideration, only after those options fail. But he probably knows he’s not going to get the job, which is why he’s openly campaigning for it. When he doesn’t get the job, he doesn’t have to worry about questions about why he’s not going back into coaching, because he has already conveniently specified that he only wanted the Cleveland job.
Arians is probably happy in retirement, and the Browns aren’t so irresistible that they’d draw him away from a stress-free job in media.