Recently released from the hospital, Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians begins his whirlwind tour of head coaching interviews. He'll do that with the glowing support of his former star pupil, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Chicago Tribune reporter Brad Biggs is hard at work, like most beats covering teams in the midst of head coaching changes. He had the foresight, though, to contact Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to get his thoughts on former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
Arians, the former interim head coach and current offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts, was Roethlisberger's offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh from 2007-11.
Recently released from the hospital for an inner-ear infection that caused him to miss the Colts first-round playoff loss to Baltimore, Arians begins an interviewing tour for four different head coaching openings - the Bears, Browns, Eagles and Chargers.
Roethlisberger, not surprisingly, had plenty of good things to say about Arians, according to Biggs.
Part of the reason Roethlisberger feels Arians would make a good head coach is the rapport he developed with Roethlisberger, and the rest of the Steelers, in his time in Pittsburgh.
"He is a players-coach," Roethlisberger told Biggs. "When I say that, I don't mean he's favored the players. He is fair and players respect him. You're not going to always get your way as a player, and you shouldn't. You respect his decision and his calls and the things he does."
Speculation circulated about the reason for Arians' forced retirement/termination from the Steelers at the end of a middling offensive 2011 season. Much of it was centered around the perceived chummy relationship Arians had with Roethlisberger. Upon not having his contract with Pittsburgh renewed, Arians filed for retirement with the league. Not long after that, he was hired by new Colts coach Chuck Pagano as the team's offensive coordinator, and mentor to first overall pick, QB Andrew Luck.
Luck's numbers trailed fellow rookies Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson except in attempts (627) and fourth quarter comeback wins (six). Luck also had substantially less run support than either Washington or Seattle.
Arians' success is mostly rooted in the fact Pagano missed nearly the entire season after being diagnosed with leukemia in September. He returned to the sideline for the Colts playoff loss this past weekend.
Arians has never been a head coach without an interim title. Keeping a team together that was built largely on the strength of Pagano is an impressive accomplishment, and Luck's numbers may pale in comparison to his rookie peers (both of whom broke Roethlisberger's rookie passer rating record), he still took a fairly mediocre roster under crisis and led it to 10 wins and a postseason appearance.
Roethlisberger's support comes from a place of experience, vouching for his abilities as a motivator and manager.
Odds seem good Arians will have a strong chance of taking one of the four remaining head coaching spots in the NFL.