Get to know Bruce Arians, the Bucs coach who is '66 and sexy'

TAMPA, Fla. -- One month ago this week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made Bruce Arians their head coach. But who is the man -- dubbed "the coolest damn coach in the NFL" by Bucs general manager Jason Licht -- known for his bluntness and signature Kangol hats?

Who is the man who said in his interview with Licht and team ownership, "I may be 66, but I'm 66 and sexy"?

Here's a closer look at Arians from a few folks who know him and can explain how the coach affected them.

The quarterback whisperer

Arians' biggest task with the Bucs, unquestionably, is to get the most out of quarterback Jameis Winston, as he did in his previous stops with Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer. The title of Arians' book is "The Quarterback Whisperer" for a reason.

Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who played for Arians with the Pittsburgh Steelers, says it has to do with the coach's understanding of the psychological demands of the position, his direct communication style and ability to build close relationships with players.

"Playing quarterback is unlike anything else. It's different. It's fragile," Leftwich said. "[It's his] demeanor, having an understanding, knowing when to say certain things, knowing when not to say [anything and] let the player play."

"We were in Pittsburgh, he cussed me out one day, and I wasn't even playing. I knew it was for Ben," Leftwich said, laughing. "It's just having an understanding of the dynamics. It was not the time to say that to Ben -- it was to say it to me so that I could relay it to Ben later on -- two, three plays later."

Luck, who played for Arians during his rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, praised his hard coaching style.

"He's honest, he challenges you, he's a great personality," Luck said. "He coaches you hard. He understands football. He helped me grow and develop a bunch. I'm grateful for my time spent with him."

Licht added, "His passion is working with young quarterbacks -- molding [them] not just as players but as people."

Drew Stanton, who played for Arians in both Indianapolis and with the Arizona Cardinals, said: "This is what he was meant to do -- to be able to go in there and impact people. Unfortunately, he didn't get a shot until later on in his career, but everywhere he's been, Indianapolis and Arizona, he's turned those two franchises around in a very short matter of time."

The philosopher

Arians' chief philosophy is "no risk it, no biscuit."

One could argue Arians' mantra goes beyond aggressive playcalling and taking deep shots downfield. It's about instilling a fearlessness in players. It's sticking with a quarterback through a rough patch. It's knowing interceptions happen -- as long as they aren't excessive -- and adjustments can be made during games.

"He just instills confidence in players, the way he carries himself, the way he just kind of exudes that -- and I think it's infectious," Stanton said. "That was the thing we got so used to in Arizona. We'd get around the 50-yard line and people knew we were taking shots. All we saw was Cover 2, so we're drawing up in the sand trying to get Cover 2 beaters and he's doing that and we're still getting chunk plays."

His game management philosophy also contrasts with what the Bucs became accustomed to under former coach Dirk Koetter -- blown leads and few in-game adjustments. In fact, the Bucs were 18-13 under Koetter when leading at any point in the first half of games (.581) -- 25th in the league.

"You don't win football games in the first half. You can lose them, but you don't win them," Stanton said, relaying what he learned under Arians. "You have to be smart in the first half. You have to pick and choose your battles. That was a B.A. saying -- 'You play in the first half to see what you need to do in the second half.'"

Arians also believes in giving his players second chances, including calling Roethlisberger a "son" and drafting Tyrann Mathieu out of LSU despite numerous off-field incidents.

Licht used that same philosophy with the Bucs when drafting Winston, who had been investigated for sexual assault at Florida State, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who had been arrested for DUI at Washington and Noah Spence, who entered a drug rehabilitation program after he was kicked out of the Big Ten.

Licht said, "Because of his history and his experiences, he believes in second chances, and he believes that inside of everybody, there is good. And people can just feel it that it's genuine when he says that."

The ruthless competitor

Arians' competitive nature goes beyond football. Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, who spent five years with Arians, recalled the first time they played golf together.

"[I'd] hear he was a hothead and [would get] very fired up. Coach had hit a shot, just a poorly struck ball. [He] caught the biggest temper tantrum on the golf course," Peterson said, laughing. "He's throwing his clubs all over the place ...

"I was like, 'Whoa! I don't think I ever saw Coach catch a fit like that before!' He's so competitive and he just has that drive, he always wants to put his best foot forward at all times.

"Two minutes later, he was all smiles and back to being friends with everybody," said Peterson, who appreciates Arians' approach to the game of football.

"Coach does a great job of believing in his personnel and knowing what his guys can and can't do. Over the years, he's been able to have guys on the back end who can hold their own. He has nothing but the utmost confidence in his guys to make plays. That's why he's been able to be ultra-aggressive over the years."

The mentor

When Bucs special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong was a senior running back at Temple, Arians approached him about getting into coaching.

"I was a beat-up, 190-pound fullback; I wasn't going anywhere," Armstrong recalled. "I was going to try to get my master's [degree] and become a schoolteacher and go coach high school ball. So, he says, 'I'll tell you what, I got a [graduate assistant] job for you next year. Don't worry about whatever you're going to do after you graduate. Bam, you've got a G.A. job here.'"

There is more of an interesting backstory to it, though.

"He demoted me as a freshman," said Armstrong, who had been recruited as a starting tailback by previous Temple coach Wayne Harden. Arians moved him behind Todd McNair, who is now the Bucs running backs coach, and then eventually moved Armstrong to fullback and special teams his senior year.

"He had to break my heart. But it was for a better player," said Armstrong, who survived Arians' tough love and became a team captain. "I was like an old cockroach. He was trying to run me off and he couldn't. ... But five years later, he said, 'No, no, no, no' -- you've got a job."

Armstrong says Arians taught him the importance of honesty, even if it hurts.

"I've kind of adopted that style of coaching myself. In particular, at this level, you're dealing with grown men. They don't want to hear a story -- 'just tell me the truth.'"

Stanton agreed.

"That was one his message [from] day one: 'Hey, if you guys have an issue, come see me. But you might not like what you hear.' ... You want to know where you stand with people. I think that he's done a really good job of that."