TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says a report that he and the franchise have agreed to part ways after this season is untrue, labeling it “fake news.”
An article in Pro Football Weekly cited “multiple sources” as saying the split would come next week at the end of Arians’ fifth season as the team’s head coach.
But the 65-year-old coach said nothing has been decided.
“Nothing’s changed,” he said on Tuesday. “I don’t know where that came from. Nothing changed in the last month and a half and people keep asking me the same questions.”
As for the article’s author Hub Arkush, Arians said, “I don’t know who the heck this guy is or where these supposed meetings took place.”
Arians can become the winningest coach in Cardinals history with his 50th victory at Seattle in the season finale on Sunday.
Arians is 49-32-1 in five seasons with the Cardinals, including the postseason. They are 7-8 this season.
Arians is a two-time NFL Coach of the Year, for his work as an interim coach in place of Chuck Pagano in 2012 and after directing to the Cardinals to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth in 2014. Arizona went 13-3 and advanced to the NFC championship game in 2015 but slipped to 7-8-1 in 2016.
Arians has had health issues, including surgery to remove a cancerous portion of his liver last offseason. But he said he has been healthy through this season.
“That’s been a big difference (knocking on a wooden table for good luck while he spoke),” he said, “having no major things happen this year was huge.”
Arians outlined his plans for deciding whether it’s time to go.
“We’ll come back (from Seattle) on the plane and get everything finalized through the season and get all the reports like we always do, get all our end-the-season business done,” he said, “sit down with my wife and son and daughter and we’ll talk about it and see what we want to do,” he said, “make a decision sometime between Monday and February, whenever (team president) Michael (Bidwill) lets me.”
Arians is part of a triumvirate of uncertainty in Arizona.
Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t said whether he will come back for another season. Neither has quarterback Carson Palmer, who is recovering from a broken arm that ended his season prematurely. Palmer, who was having a solid season before he was hurt, turns 38 on Wednesday.
Arians said the decisions of Fitzgerald and Palmer will have no bearing on what he decides to do.
The coach talked of how Arizona could be “a very dominant defense next year” after the way it performed the past few weeks. Arizona’s 23-0 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday was the Cardinals’ first shutout in 25 years. Arians talked about how much he loves to develop young quarterbacks.
“That’s always been the most exciting thing in coaching to me,” he said.
There’s the looming return of running back David Johnson, who broke his left wrist in the opener, depriving Arizona of one of the league’s best players.
“That’s a great one,” Arians said of reasons to come back, “maybe 2,000, 2,500 reasons.”
A reference to the kind of yards gained Johnson could bring.
But Arians also acknowledged that when he was “re-fired,” as he calls it, as offensive coordinator by Pittsburgh in 2011 he and his wife Christine were fine with the move away from the game after his many years as an assistant coach.
“We were really fine with it at that time,” Arians said. “She was ‘really’ fine with it. Obviously the call from Chuck (Pagano) and we hit the lottery as far as coaching goes and it’s been an unbelievable six years since then. That’s the one thing you think about it. Oh my gosh, what if they win the Super Bowl next year and you’re not going to be there?
“Dick LeBeau always said ‘I was going to retire at 70, then I would have missed two Super Bowls.’”
There’s that beautiful house on the lake waiting for him in Georgia. But Arians said when he’s not excited about the job, “that’s when you know it’s time.”
“I was up at 5 (a.m.) and excited to get here,” he said on Tuesday. “That hasn’t changed.”
Safety Antoine Bethea, who intercepted Eli Manning twice on Sunday, has a torn pectoral muscle and will miss the season finale. He has five interceptions this season.