MOBILE, Ala. – Bruce Arians viewed quarterback Jay Cutler as an asset when he interviewed for the Bears coaching vacancy.
The runner-up to Marc Trestman in Chicago, Arians landed safely as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
But Arians harbored no resentment toward the Bears, even hugging general manager Phil Emery in the parking lot outside Ladd-Peebles Stadium after a Senior Bowl practice Monday.
Asked about what appealed to him about the Bears job, Arians told the Sun-Times, “I think the big thing was
my meeting with Phil Emery.
“We have a lot in common. I thought it was going to be a really good working relationship.”
A very close second, though, was the presence of Cutler, who Arians specifically requested a visit with.
“We talked for an hour and a half, I felt really comfortable with Jay,” Arians said. “Of the guys I’ve met in a long time, [Cutler] wants to win, and he wants to do whatever it takes to win. He’s willing to put in the time.
“I asked him about the commitment to learn, and he wants to win, and he’ll do anything. He’s as talented as anybody in the league, and he’s more than committed to make sure that gets done.”
The likely Associated Press Coach of the Year, the Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator stepped in as interim head coach last season when Chuck Pagano was battling leukemia. The Colts, 2-14 in 2011, finished 11-5 with Arians leading the way, bolstering his reputation as a developer of quarterbacks and receivers, most notably Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Plaxico Burress and Andrew Luck.
Arians was aware of the different criticisms of Cutler, but he wasn’t concerned about any of that.
“There’s no doubt,” Arians said of Cutler, “he was the type of leader I wanted on offense to get it done.”
Arians added that he enjoyed his visit with Bears chairman George McCaskey and president Ted Phillips.
Emery, though, tabbed Trestman as his head coach early Wednesday morning.
Hours later, Arians was en route to Arizona, and he was announced as the team’s new head coach by Thursday night.
“I think they did the right thing for them,” Arians said, referring to the Bears, “and in Arizona, we’re extremely happy.”
Arians reiterated that he didn’t just want any head coach job, noting how much he’s appreciated all the relationships he’s built in Indianapolis, “I thought there would be an opportunity, I just wanted it to be the right opportunity. I had such a great job, and it was going to take someone I felt very, very comfortable with and a team that thought could win,” Arians said.
He emphasized that he was impressed by the willingness of new Cardinals general manager Steve Keim and club executive Mike Bidwill to build a consistent winner.
“They blew me away,” Arians said. “I said, ‘These guys want to win and no one has an ego.
“This is really the perfect fit.”