One More Opens The Door

April 12th, 2021

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If the Bucs become the NFL’s first repeat champions since 2004, Bruce Arians just might find himself in a place he never imagined.

On the doorsteps of Canton.

That notion would have sounded preposterous before Arians came out of retirement to coach the Bucs in 2019. He would have been considered a quarterback guru who did a nice job in Arizona over five seasons but never led the Cardinals to the big dance.

The Hall of Fame credentials of Arians took a huge turn when Tampa Bay closed last season with an 8-game winning streak that left him with a career record of 67-44-1. That .603 winning percentage is impressive, but it’s not nearly enough for Arians to be considered a viable Hall of Fame candidate.

But what if the guy does it again?

If Arians lifts the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Los Angeles next February at the age of 69, his case for Canton becomes quite compelling.

Suppose the 2021 Bucs finish 12-5, win the NFC South and go 4-0 again in the postseason?

Suddenly, Arians would be sporting a 79-49-1 mark and a lifetime winning percentage of .617, not including a 9-2 playoff record. Let’s remember that Arians was named Coach of the Year in both Indianapolis and Arizona. He went 9-3 as an interim coach for the 2012 Colts, but those games don’t count on his official record: they are credited to Chuck Pagano, who was undergoing treatment for leukemia at the time.

Every two-time Coach of the Year who has won at least two NFL championships has been awarded a gold jacket. At that point, Arians would have a powerful case to make for Canton, but it still might not be enough.

Mike Shanahan won two Super Bowls. George Seifert won two Super Bowls.

Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowls. None of them has a Hall of Fame bust.

But Tom Flores just got into the Hall and an Arians armed with two Super Bowl victories would have a better case than Flores, who was a complete flop during his final three years in Seattle.

The Jimmy Standard

Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson.

If Arians retires after the Bucs run it back, the primary knock on his Hall of Fame candidacy would be the brief length of his coaching career. Eight years doesn’t give you much time to build a Canton legacy, but Jimmy Johnson (80-64) was recently voted in.

Johnson’s edge over Arians is his role as the unquestioned architect of the Dallas dynasty in the early 1990s. He didn’t have the GM title, but Johnson picked the players — and he was great at it.

The best personnel move credited to Arians was the full-court press he put on free agent Tom Brady after the 2019 season. If Arians ever makes it to the Hall, Brady should be his presenter because he’s not even in the Canton conversation without No. 12.

Even with a second Super Bowl, Arians isn’t assured a place in the Hall. But what if he sticks around for 2022 and the Bucs go 11-6, eliminated in the third playoff round? At that point, Arians could walk off with a 90-55-1 record in the regular season (.620 winning percentage) and an 11-3 mark in the playoffs. He would have been to the NFC championship game four times in nine seasons, winning twice.

Case closed.

What about all the work Arians has done to promote diversity in the coaching ranks? That helps, but his work on the field has to carry the day among the voting members.

When I made the case for Tony Dungy, the focus was on his status as a historic winner. His .652 winning percentage (playoffs included) ranks No. 5 all-time for coaches with at least 100 regular-season victories.

The first black head coach to win a Super Bowl, Dungy remains a powerful voice promoting diversity, but that’s not why he’s in the Hall.

Thanks, Tommy.

He’s there because he won, and won big.

Arians has a chance to join the ranks of the game’s coaching immortals, but he’s not there yet. He needs another Lombardi Trophy … maybe more. The Hall already has some of his artifacts, displaying the hat and polo Arians wore for the Super Bowl matchup in Tampa. An autographed game ball also resides in Canton.

A year ago, Arians and the Pro Football Hall of Fame hardly belonged in the same sentence. Then Brady arrived and now that 1,036-mile journey from Tampa to Canton doesn’t seem nearly as long — or as arduous.

Should the 2021 Bucs run it back, Arians just might stroll through those regal doors one day.

Ira!  … Ira’s good friend Sean Sullivan, the Bill Currie Ford general manager, is ready to help you personally. Just call, email or stop in, one mile north of Raymond James Stadium.

12 Responses to “One More Opens The Door”

  1. Buc1987 Says:

    Kind of what I said a few weeks back in here.

    Brady might not only drag Arians into the Hall, but a few players too.

  2. heckler number 4 Says:

    It would be a near run thing for sure, and it’s hard not to lay a bit of it at the goat’s feet. But the hall is a sham. Jimmy Johnson just getting in after Dungy is all you need to know about how BS it is. I noticed how you don’t show Dungy’s playoff record, and win percentage. It is still my belief he cost us superbowls with that Defense. And I LIKE Dungy, and respect the tree, but in reality he was put in way too early and ahead of true HOF coaches like JJ.

  3. Winny Testaverde Says:

    BA’s career arc is seemingly going in the opposite direction than Chunky’s. They might even replace Gruden’s statue with one of BA one day. Having said this…a long way to go and a lot of good fortune away from “running it back”.

  4. Alexander Nascimento Says:

    That’s no better take from inside the Hall then Sage’s

    PS: Run for two, Sage, run for two “Should the 2021 Bucs run it back, Arians just might stroll through those regal doors one day.”

  5. Buddhaboy19 Says:

    Funny – I know we wouldve never won a super bowl with Dungy, so i am so thankful for Chucky. But he just wears people out with his schtick, and he doesn’t develop young talent and his player evaluation skills are terrible.

    I wish him well in Vegas, but he shouldve probably stuck to MNF. Or let him be an ambasador to the game or something.

  6. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Buddhaboy. He did finally bring a title to Tampa…and for that we should all be grateful. He could have/should have stayed on MNF. His fanboy Davis made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. His time here in Las Vegas won’t end well me thinks. Too many young QB’s in his own division. All the picks he gained from the Mack & Cooper traded were mostly botched. They’re trending downwards.

  7. heckler number 4 Says:

    Chucky got screwed here honestly. Sure, he had a week GM, but McKay left salted earth for Chucky. Two 1s for Keyshawn, 2 more 1s and 2 2nds for Gruden, on top of overpaying older player contracts with big backends. There wasn’t an earth to till to build a team in the short term. Part of the reason he negotiated the garuantee at the raiders.

    That said, his schtick was burdensome, and he needs a strong personell person, who he can work with to have a plan to build a team. But he can get a team over the hump of bad coaching as he did with Dungy’s underperforming team for the Non HOF coaching portion of his carrear.

  8. Joe Says:

    heckler number 4

    This would be a great name for a masked wrestler.

  9. Mike28277 Says:

    If he were to guide us to another Championship, and add what he has done for women in coaching as well as the his coaches in charge of positions in all facets of the Team, he has a very good shot at making it to Canton

  10. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    Instead of running it back, how about running the rack. 20 -0.

    28 game winning streak! Stick that in your Hall of Fame.

    That sucks that he doesn’t get credit for the 9-3 at indy.

  11. SB : Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    Suppose the 2021 Bucs finish 12-5, win the NFC South and go 4-0 again in the postseason?

    If we go 12 and 5 then we will only be playing 3 Post season games most likely.
    Nobody else in the NFC is gonna have a better record than that

  12. Topdoggie Says:

    The hall doesn’t have to ignore his Indi record just because of the way the NFL does stats. Thats where Ira comes in.