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Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals

If Bruce Arians really had it in the back of his mind that this will be his last season coaching the Cardinals, it’s doubtful he would have gotten so excitable when he was asked the followed question:

Are you intrigued with the prospect of finding and developing the team’s next quarterback of the future?

“Oh gosh, yeah. That’s always been the most exciting thing in coaching for me,” Arians said Tuesday after shooting down false reports stating he has decided to mutually part ways with the franchise next week.

“I go back to that year (in 2012) with Andrew Luck and it was one of the most fun years ever, other than Chuck’s illness,” Arians continued, referring to when he became interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts following Chuck Pagano’s battle with leukemia. “Just fun coaching every day and watching him grow. Same thing with Peyton (Manning). It was just fun watching those guys grow.”

Arians only spent one season working with Luck, but it was enough to get the rookie quarterback on his way and Arians think he can do it again next year once the Cardinals isolate and determine their own young, new quarterback.

“I would think so,” he said. “It’s just a matter of if the excitement is there. You just continue doing it, you know.”

So far, the excitement is still there, the coach confirmed.

“I got up at 5 this morning and I was excited to get here, so that hasn’t changed,” Arians said, adding his improved health has also been influential and could impact his coaching future. “Yeah, that’s made a big difference. No major things happened this year, so that’s been huge.”

On Tuesday morning, however, Pro Football Weekly reported that the 65-year-old Arians was prepared to walk away from coaching. Among other things, Hub Arkush wrote, “Arians is a prostate cancer survivor who has battled other health issues in recent seasons and the prospect of a possible rebuild for the Cardinals with no apparent answers at quarterback on the horizon is apparently enough for Arians to decide to call it quits or at least take a hiatus from coaching.”

After opening his weekly news conference with the usual review regarding injuries and some brief thoughts from Sunday’s 23-0 shutout of the Giants, Arians brought up the report himself.

“If you want to ask me about this fake news story that has come up – I’m quoting the President now – nothing has changed. I don’t know where all that s–t came from,” Arians said, laughing. “Nothing has changed for the last month and a half and everybody keeps asking the same question.”

Arians was asked about that report specifically and why others have speculated as well that this will be his final season as coach of the Cardinals.

“I have no idea. I don’t even know who in the heck this guy is,” Arians said. “I don’t know where these supposed meetings took place. That’s fun. It was good reading.”

Asked if he’s getting a little sore about all the false reports, Arians nodded his head.

“I’m getting a little tired of it, yeah,” he said. “There will come a time and a place when we decide what we’re going to do. I guess Larry (Fitzgerald) has put up with this for like eight years. I guess I can put up with it for one.”

Arians, who is under contract for next season and has a team option for 2019, was asked how often he thinks about his coaching future in Arizona.

“I never think about it,” he said. “That’s why I get tired of them asking the question. I never think about it. I only think about Seattle. Last week, I only thought about New York, trying to figure out a way with this offensive line we’re playing with to block those guys.”

At 7-8, the Cardinals can finish the season .500 with a victory this Sunday at Seattle, where they have beaten the Seahawks three times under Arians. A win would also give Arians his 50th with the Cardinals, eclipsing the tie he shares with Ken Whisenhunt for the most victories ever by a Cardinals head coach.

“This is fun,” Arians said. “Get to 8-8 and play Seattle? It seems like we play them in the last game every year. This is our playoff game. Our guys will be motivated just like theirs. They’re going to be super motivated because they have to win (to have any chance at making the playoffs). It should be a great game.

“If you’re going to be a spoiler, that’s the one you want to do it against.”

Once that game is over, Arians will huddle with his staff, General Manager Steve Keim and the players, turn in all their reports, hold some final team meetings, and then take some time to contemplate what’s next.

“I’ll sit down with my wife and son and daughter and we’ll talk about it and see if we can make a decision sometime between Monday and February,” he said.

Arians said the futures of Fitzgerald and veteran quarterback Carson Palmer will not be tied to his decision at all. “They’re all separate,” he said. He did mention all the injuries the Cardinals suffered this season and how nice it will be to have a full arsenal of players to work with again, naming off several names such as David Johnson, Markus Golden and others.

That’s why Bruce Arians loves coaching. It’s the players, he said.

“It’s the relationships,” he said. “The relationships with the players. Building the roster. There really isn’t anything I don’t like about it.”

Then why leave?

“Who says I am?” Arians asked, laughing.

Everybody, apparently.

“Everybody out of town,” Arians said. “Everybody out of town.”
Cardinals injury news

Safety Antoine Bethea, who made two interceptions in the win over the Giants, suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the game and has been placed on injured reserve. Linebacker Edmond Robinson was elevated to the active roster from the practice squad. He played in 21 games for the Vikings the past two seasons.
Bruce Arians’ record with the Cardinals

2013: 10-6

2014: 11-5

2015: 13-3

2016: 7-8-1

2017: 7-8

RELATED: Cards on playing spoiler in Seattle next week: ‘There’s our playoff game’

MORE: Bruce Arians tied for most wins by a coach in Arizona Cardinals history

RELATED: Cards defense comes through with a Christmas Eve shutout

Reach McManaman at bob.mcmanaman@arizonarepublic.com. Follow him on Twitter @azbobbymac and listen to him live every Wednesday night between 7-9 on Fox Sports 910-AM on The Freaks with Kenny and Crash.

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Blaine Gabbert

Blaine Gabbert

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Cardinals plan to continue starting Blaine Gabbert for the foreseeable future, coach Bruce Arians said Monday.

Gabbert, who is coming off a 27-24 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, is 1-1 in two consecutive starts this season. Drew Stanton, who Arians said is “getting healthier and healthier,” will continue to back up Gabbert, Arians added.

“But we’re going to stick with Blaine right now,” Arians declared.

And possibly next season. Arians was asked about his comfort level in starting Gabbert next season should Carson Palmer retire.

“The way he’s playing right now, I’d be very, very comfortable,” Arians said.

Could Gabbert be Arizona’s starter next year?

“Oh, yeah, I think it’s a possibility,” Arians said.

Should the Cardinals re-sign Gabbert, who is playing on a one-year contract worth $855,000 that he signed in May, it’ll be the first time in the quarterback’s career that he’ll have played in the same offensive scheme two years in a row.

“He can blossom,” Arians said.

Arians is “really proud” of how Gabbert has handled the opportunity to be the Cardinals’ starter over the last two weeks. Gabbert has thrown for 498 yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions and has completed 61.1 percent of his passes.

“We’re very blessed to have him,” Arians said. “He’s taken the bull by the horns and showing us that, ‘I’m a player and I can play at this level and play very high.’”

While Arians doesn’t feel like Gabbert needs to prove anything else to him, Arians said Gabbert has “a ton” of upside “as he continues to grow.”

There are minor things that Arians thinks Gabbert can work on, namely protecting the ball when he scrambles. But the Cardinals’ receivers have to improve on their scrambling, as well, Arians said. They didn’t know who was going deep, who’s going back and “guys were shooting the opposite way across the field.” The Cards haven’t run a scramble drill in practice in “so long,” Arians said, which led to messy plays when Gabbert got out of the pocket.

“We have to get that cleaned up so when he gets out of there, he can still make plays down the field,” Arians said.