At 67 years old, Bruce Arians is quite old to be taking over a new team, but this is exactly where he finds himself. After retiring in 2017, Arians is back with a new challenge with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It should come to no surprise, given his age and his decades of experience in both the NFL and the NCAA, that he believes in an old school mindset. Will that work in today’s NFL?
When someone refers to an old school mindset in the world of professional football, it typically means that there will be lots of tough love, physical practices, and no room for distractions. Bruce Arians confirmed this when he talked to reporters at the Buccaneers’ training-camp press conference:
“We’re going to have fun,” he told the press. “It’s going to be different when we put the pads on. There will be lots of hollering and screaming and there won’t be any damn music. So you’ll hear some things. You know, maybe put some earplugs on the kids.”
Arians was making light of this, but it comes to no surprise that an older coach like him may come with this sort of mindset, but how will it affect the players?
Profanity and sports have gone together as long as the two of them have existed. Anybody who has watched any sports on television is almost sure to have picked up an occasional curse word.
For coaches, it is often how they get their points across, and Arians is no exceptions. He is, after all, the man who used his brief television career to say that then Steelers’ tight end Jesse James was “wide-ass open” on a hot microphone while calling a game.
Former Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy famously had his success without using profanity. Conversely, currently unemployed head coach Rex Ryan was known to coach with an especially colorful vocabulary. The two famously sparred in 2010 over the dueling styles, but it is safe to say that Ryan and Arians’ styles are the more common one.
One would think that players who are playing their teammates in practice would take it easy, as an ill-timed injury during training camp can alter a team’s entire season. Bruce Arians, however, seems to be promoting practices with a certain type of game-like intensity.
“That’s the only way to learn how to tackle,” said Arians. “You have to tackle some. Are we going to tackle a lot? No. Are we going to tackle certain guys? No. But we will tackle, yes.”
Just because he wants hard practices, however, doesn’t mean that he is being reckless. He simply wants his defenses to be ready when they are in game situations. This way, the team will be ready to tackle their opponents when the time is right.
“There isn’t going to be any damn music” -Bruce Arians
The lack of music may seem brash, and an especially archaic strategy by Arians, but he did have an explanation regarding why he chose to use this strategy. He wants the sounds of the game to take center stage, and for players to be able to feed off of that energy:
“If we make a play, let’s hear an uproar,” Arians said, according to Yahoo Sports. “We’ve got to get used to (fans) cheering us on when we make big plays. That’s going to be exciting. We create our own energy.”
It makes sense, while stadiums will be playing music, the fan noise, especially at home, can help the team feed off of the energy at a building.
Arians is in many ways a piece of a different time, but what he is trying to instill in his players is a sense of pride, toughness, and hunger that will lead to winning football. We will see if it works out for him.