PHOENIX -- Without Bruce Arians in his life and career, Todd Bowles knew he wouldn’t have been sitting in a ballroom in the Arizona Biltmore early Tuesday morning.
During his first NFL annual meeting coaches breakfast as the New York Jets head coach, Bowles, the former Cardinals’ defensive coordinator, looked back at Arians’ influence on him.
“That guy, I can’t say enough about him,” Bowles said. “I’d lose my left arm for him.”
For now, Bowles can keep his limbs intact.
The two have a history that dates back to the early 1980s when Arians coached Bowles at Temple. They were also on Cleveland’s staff from 2001-2003.
“He kind of groomed me from a young man to a middle-aged man to now an older man as far as seeing me grow,” Bowles said.
“He helped me be the best at almost everything.”
Earlier this offseason, Arians said he began working on getting Bowles a job as soon as the season ended.
“He earned it,” Arians said. “Whatever I could do to help.”
While Arians’ endorsement carried a significant amount of weight, Bowles earned a job on his own. The Cardinals had the most blitzes per drop back and the second-highest pressure per drop back in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information in the past two years. In 2013, Arizona had the best rushing defense.
Last season, however, may have displayed Bowles’ coaching prowess more than ever because of his ability to turn an injury-plagued defense into a competitive unit.
“Todd has a special and unique gift with taking players who may have certain limitations and putting them in a position to succeed schematically,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. “He understands how to hide some of the guys and mask some of their limitations while catering to their strengths. This year he did a phenomenal job.
“Todd did a great job schematically being able to bring people from different spots and being able to create pressure without true edge pressure.”