Colts offensive coordinator Arians: 'It was a great ride' with Steelers
His time with the Steelers didn't end how he had hoped, but Bruce Arians said he hasn't "been this excited in years," after his hiring as Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator.
"I walked into the building (Monday) and never been greeted any better in my 37 years of coaching," Arians said Wednesday during an introductory conference call with reporters. "It's a new beginning. I am really excited about putting that horseshoe back on. I am looking forward to it."
Arians, 59, was the Colts' quarterbacks coach from 1998-2000, and the organization brought him back on Tuesday to run the offense. The move came 10 days after Arians parted ways with the Steelers in what the organization labeled as a retirement.
Arians later admitted it wasn't a retirement and that he wasn't offered a contract by team president Art Rooney II. Rooney responded by saying Arians' constant struggle with retirement prompted the organization to go in a different direction.
Arians, however, said yesterday he hasn't worried about retirement in years.
Even though his departure ended on bad terms, Arians said he cherishes his time with the Steelers.
"I was enjoying what I was doing," he said.
As offensive coordinator, Arians helped the Steelers to two Super Bowl appearances, including a championship in 2008. His offense ranked as high as seventh and as low as 22nd in his five years as coordinator.
Arians said he would miss the people he worked with but tiptoed around questions about Steelers' ownership.
"It was a great ride, great people. I love these guys," Arians said. "I have had a great relationship with these players."
Under Arians' guidance, the Steelers had three 12-4 seasons and advanced to the playoffs four times as he helped groom Ben Roethlisberger into one of the NFL's top quarterbacks.
"Ben is a superstar, and I would like to say that I helped him, but the good Lord gave him a ton of talent," Arians said. "We have a great relationship and that is going to last forever."
Arians takes over an Indianapolis offense full of uncertainty because of quarterback Peyton Manning's health problems. Although Arians said he would love to have Manning back, he promised the Colts offense will be balanced no matter who is quarterback.
"You cannot be one dimensional," Arians said. "I would like to go back and look at the statistics when I called plays in Cleveland and Pittsburgh for eight years. I am betting it is pretty close to 50-50."
In eight years as an NFL offensive coordinator, Arians called pass plays 55 percent of the time. In his five years with the Steelers, he threw 51.8 percent of the time. In 2011, that number grew to 57.2 percent.
"We were second in the league in time of possession this year, but we threw more than we ran," Arians said. "We won a lot of games by running out the clock by throwing the football."
Still, Arians was a magnet for criticism, even from management. Rooney said publicly two years ago that he believed the team needed to run the ball more. A few days before not renewing Arians' contract, Rooney said the offense and Roethlisberger's game needed to be tweaked.
Arians accepts the blame that comes with the title.
"When you are calling the plays, there are 65,000 fans in the stands — 63,000 are calling plays better than you are," Arians said. "Everybody who plays 'Madden' and fantasy football calls plays."
Wilson's condition upgraded
Steelers running back coach Kirby Wilson, badly burned Jan. 6 in a fire at his Seven Fields home, has been upgraded to serious condition, his family said Wednesday in a statement.
Wilson had been listed in critical condition in the Trauma Burn Center at UPMC Mercy, Uptown, while he recovered from burns that encompassed 45 percent of his body.
"His status is stable, and he has started his physical rehabilitation," the statement said. "The Wilson family would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support."