Nobody is more familiar with Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians in the Chicago Bears' locker room than veteran tight end Matt Spaeth, who spent four years and started 46 games (including the postseason) in Arians' offense with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2007-10.
The Bears requested permission to interview Arians for their head coaching vacancy on Thursday, according to multiple reports.
The 60-year-old Arians is a well-traveled NFL assistant with stops in Kansas City (1989-92), New Orleans (1996), Indianapolis (1998-2000, 12), Cleveland (01-03) and Pittsburgh (2004-11).
After helping lead Pittsburgh to three Super Bowl appearances and two world championships, Arians' contract was not renewed by the Steelers following the 2011 season. The veteran moved on to Indianapolis where he signed on to be the Colts offensive coordinator and mentor to No. 1 overall pick rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. But Arians had to assume to role of interim head coach when Colts head coach Chuck Pagano left the team after he got diagnosed with leukemia. With Arians at the helm, the Colts went 9-3 and finished with an overall record of 11-5 to earn the franchise an AFC wild card berth, just one year after the organization posted a 2-14 mark and cut ties with future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning.
"I have to be honest, I've been kind of sitting around waiting to see when teams were going to start trying to interview Bruce," Spaeth said. "I really like him as a coach, and obviously as a guy. If you look at his journey, success seems to follow him.
"I can tell you that when Pittsburgh got rid of him, nobody was happy in that locker room, especially Ben (Roethlisberger). Ben has a lot of pull around there and he was upset. People were mad because of the job Bruce does. Just look at this year in Indianapolis and the tough situation he was placed in going from coordinator to interim head coach. He did a great job. And he seemed like the right coach for Andrew Luck. If you read or watched Luck's interviews this year, it was B.A. this, or B.A. that ... players respect the guy and they play for him."
Under Arians' guidance, Luck passed for an NFL rookie record 4,374 yards and engineered seven game-winning drives.
Spaeth describes Arians' style of offense as a mixture between a powerful running attack and a passing game designed to thrive when the quarterback is outside of the pocket.
"As far as his style of offense, at least in the run game, it's old-school," Spaeth said. "We're coming downhill and attacking. Very physical. A power based running attack. I feel like we could have used a little more of that this past year. We got to it at times, but we could have done more.
"Bruce is known for his aggressive, downhill running game that sets up the great play action. He puts quarterbacks in a good position to be successful, in my opinion. Roll outs, bootlegs, play actions ... those are the kinds of things he does to help the quarterback. He knows how to get his QB out of the pocket and the results speak for themselves."