Bruce Arians hasn’t been gone from the game of football for a full year yet, and there is already talk that he might come out of retirement. This time around, it would be to coach the Cleveland Browns – the only team that Arians says he would put the headset back on and grab the clipboard for.
Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository happened to be present as Arians took to the broadcasting booth as a guest announcer during Sunday’s (November 4) matchup between the Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs. Doerschuk caught up with the two-time Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year to get the run-down on how life has been treating him since he stepped away from the Arizona Cardinals after the 2017 season. But as any good journalist would, Doerschuk made sure to transition from chatting on the present and build toward questions as to what the future may hold. And given the coaching quagmire that Cleveland once again finds itself in, it was only natural that he’d pick his brain on whether or not the prospects of a comeback might be on the table for Arians.
“Cleveland is the only job I would consider,” Arians reportedly told Doerschuk.
ESPN Browns reporter Pat McManamon would give Arians a call to follow up on the quote and he confirms that the 66-year-old offensive specialist did tell Doerschuk he’d be open to the job in Cleveland. McManamon points out that Arians wanted to make it clear that it would take a considerable offer to draw him out of what has worked out to be a comfortable situation for him presently. Still, in his words, the door is indeed open for him to return, even if slightly so.
Arians would go on during the broadcast to recommend that Browns owner John Dorsey bring a veteran like Chuck Pagano to man the ship after the season. This, despite the fact that the league is experiencing a trend toward younger coaches with guys like Sean McVay taking over in Los Angeles, Matt Nagy being tapped to run Chicago, and Tennessee turning to Matt LaFleur.
Pagano is also an interesting recommendation coming from Arians, given he mentored the current interim head coach Freddie Kitchens – and one would think he’d hope for Kitchens to solidify himself at the helm. But there is reason to suspect that the Pagano recommendation could be an indirect endorsement of himself. After all, it was while working with Pagano that Arians got his first shot at a head coaching position. He would step up to fill in as the interim head when Pagano went down with leukemia in 2012, and he was so successful that he turned a 2-14 team into an 11-5 contender.
However, as Around The NFL columnist Nick Shook suggests in his most recent piece on Arians, neither winning Coach of the Year that season nor going on to head the Arizona Cardinals thanks to that Colts campaign ever quite filled the void that was left when in 1999 Arians was fired from his position as offensive coordinator for a Browns team that gave up a 17-point lead to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs.
The Cleveland Browns have only been back to the postseason one time in the two decades that have passed since Arians’ ouster. And in that same span, they’ve only recorded two winning seasons – something the 58-33-1 Arians apparently believes he just might provide the antidote for.