It may be the middle of the season, but there are some firsts to go around this weekend as the Arizona Cardinals come to town.
Bucs Head Coach Bruce Arians was hired as a head coach for the first time in 2013 by the Cardinals. During his five seasons in the desert, he got very familiar with the organization, including now-Bucs General Manager Jason Licht, who was the Cardinals’ director then vice president of player personnel from 2013-2014 - right at the start of Arians’ tenure. Licht and Arians are together again here in Tampa and as the Bucs return home for the first time since September, the head coach and general manager will be served with an extra dose of familiarity in the form of the team that brought them together for the first time.
While 2017 isn’t too terribly long ago, the turnover in the NFL is significant from year to year. That’s especially the case for the Cardinals, who are on their second head coach since Arians’ departure. As a result, the staff is obviously all new. It worked out for Arians, though, who has many of his former coaches from Arizona with him on staff here in Tampa Bay.
Current members of the coaching staff that were under Coach Arians in Arizona at some point between 2013-2017:
-Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles
-Asst. Head Coach/Run-Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin
-Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich
-ILB Coach Mike Caldwell
-TE Coach Rick Christophel
-OLB Coach Larry Foote
-WR Coach Kevin Garver
-Asst. Special Teams Coach Amos Jones
-Safeties Coach Nick Rapone
-Cornerbacks Coach Kevin Ross
-Asst. to the Head Coach Mike Chiurco
-Speed & Conditioning Coach Roger Kingdom
-Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Anthony Piroli
Former Cardinals players currently in Tampa:
-Outside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote
-OL Earl Watford
-ILB Kevin Minter
Those guys share the same familiarity BA does with Arizona and therefore, their players. But how much will that matter? How many players are still there from the Arians Years?
I’m glad you asked.
Cardinals formerly under BA still on the roster in Arizona:
-WR Larry Fitzgerald
-CB Patrick Peterson
-RB David Johnson
-DL Rodney Gunter
-LB Haason Reddick
-LB Chandler Jones
-S Budda Baker
-DT Corey Peters
-P Andy Lee
-LS Aaron Brewer
-OT D.J. Humphries
-C A.Q. Shipley
"Those guys – it’s always different [and] difficult,” Arians said of going against his former players. “I don’t like going against friends, but we’re not friends when it’s kicked off."
While there are only about 12 players left over from Arians’ last year in Arizona, a lot of them are starters and while Arians doesn’t know the new scheme put in place by first-year Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury, he’ll know tendencies of certain players he’s familiar with. He was asked if he expects veteran cornerback Patrick Peterson to shadow Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans on Sunday, for instance.
"Yeah, I would think so,” Arians said. “We always did it. It was just what we did. He’s been doing a little bit of it in the two games he’s played with [Michael] Thomas and Golden Tate."
It will be a familiar weekend all around and can hopefully result in a familiar feeling for Arians: winning.