You are a brave man, Bruce Arians, for few men have traveled the road you are set to embark on without steering into a quaint pond after following their Garmin device too closely (quick aside: I can support this with exactly zero statistical evidence, but I can only assume those things have led to plummeting divorce rates). Enjoy your time as the hero now, because that desert sun is menacing and unforgiving.

Last night the coaching carousel mercifully stopped spinning, concluding with another very predictable hire as the Cardinals brought aboard Arians to be their next head coach. It’s a fitting finale to a frenzied hiring season which was balanced equally by surprises (Chip Kelly and Marc Trestman), and formalities (Andy Reid, Mike McCoy). Arians definitely falls into the latter category, as the Cardinals needed an offensively gifted coach to fix a unit that isn’t gifted whatsoever, and they stumbled into the extremely rare opportunity to hire a man who could be 2012′s coach of the year.

The appeal of Arians is obvious. So obvious, in fact, that we can kind of break it down like a mathematical equation. I haven’t actually completed one of these since grade five, so wish me luck.

  • The Cardinals are generally awful at quarterback, and the one QB they have who’s shown flashes of potential cost them a sizable investment, and he needs to be either developed or jettisoned immediately.
  • Arians just played a significant role in the development of Andrew Luck as both an offensive coordinator and head coach. Previously for four seasons he also performed the same duties as the OC in Pittsburgh, guiding Ben Roethlisberger through a period that included two Super Bowl appearances, and one championship.
  • Those two things then add up to this thing: hope that Kevin Kolb can be saved.

Or if not Kolb, then someone. This year’s draft won’t compare to last spring in terms of the depth at the quarterback position. That’s because no draft will compare to last spring in terms of the depth at the quarterback position. But the Cardinals will pick seventh overall, and early in the draft season right now there’s definitely one first-round QB (Geno Smith), and possibly another (Matt Barkley). Arizona’s shot at Smith seems slim unless they want to pay steeply to trade up, but trading back to get Barkley is plausible.

That’s all wild speculation right now, though, and there will be plenty of time for that starting in a few weeks when we spend two months assessing the character of young men, many of whom will then fade from our lives forever. Right now let’s deal in the right now, and we have two words for Arians: good luck.

The Kolb decision to either develop or dump needs to be made relatively soon. There’s no more guaranteed money left on his contract, so he can be cut for free. What will take place then is a careful tape watching over the coming days, as Kolb’s six games this year will be assessed thoroughly. Those were the fun, cheery times this season when the Cardinals won their first four games in September including an upset over the Patriots. Was Kolb merely babysitting an offense while the defense did the heavy lifting in those games? Well, sort of. In two of his six healthy games his passer rating was over 120.0, and he was interception free in four of those starts.

Those are the good numbers. The other ones (6.4 yards per pass attempt, and only 194.8 yards per game overall) are the Alex Smith-y numbers.

The problem for Arians is that at least in the short term, he may not have a choice, and he’ll have to forge ahead with Kolb. Again, this draft class is weak at quarterback, and as usual, the QBs available this offseason through either a trade or free agnecy are something less than inspiring (hey, want the real Alex Smith?).

This is a long-term project, for a long-term coach who was signed to a four-year deal. Us fantasy folk just have one request, Bruce: SAVE LARRY FITZGERALD.

And now the links part of the links post…

  • The Browns have hired Mike Lombardi as VP of player personnel. [Browns.com]
  • Hey, look who else may land in Cleveland because he’s pissed off: Ray Horton. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
  • The raiders are committed to Darren McFadden for 2013. [San Jose Mercury News]
  • This is interesting: if you strip away all +10 yard carries to eliminate skewing, what happens to the YPC rates around the league this year? [Pro Football Focus]