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Bruce Arians: Falcons' Armstrong might be a head coach if not for 'Hard Knocks'


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Bruce Arians: Falcons' Armstrong might be a head coach if not for 'Hard Knocks'

Aug 26, 2017

 
Vaughn McClureESPN Staff Writer 
 
 
When Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians first became a head coach at Temple University in 1983, he had a versatile player named Keith Armstrong.

"The first game, he was the starting running back," Arians said of Armstrong, now the Atlanta Falcons' special teams coordinator. "The second game, he was the starting tight end. The third game, he was the starting outside linebacker and the captain of the special teams.

"He wasn’t afraid to speak up, even as a young player. We were playing someone and he jumped up and got in everyone’s face and was like, 'We’ve got to win this one!'"

Armstrong typically added a little profanity behind his message.

"He's always had it," Arians said of Armstrong's foul language. "That was the Philly in him."

Arians, who gave Armstrong his coaching start as a grad assistant at Temple (1987), always appreciates seeing his protégé in action, like he will for Saturday night's Falcons-Cardinals exhibition. But Arians would much rather see Armstrong on the opposite sideline as the opposing head coach. Arians firmly believes Armstrong deserves a head-coaching opportunity after 20-plus years as an NFL assistant.

"People get all hung up in these offensive and defensive coordinators, and special teams coordinators work with the entire team," Arians explained. "So they have that presence and that connection with offense, defense, everybody. To me, it makes more sense. Plus, he's had background in both offense and defense.

"And somebody from the inside in Atlanta needs to push him. That's what I do with my guys. I push my guys and get them out there. So I'm pushing Keith, but people don't see him as on my staff."

Armstrong interviewed as an in-house candidate for the Falcons job before Dan Quinn was hired. He also previously interviewed for head-coaching jobs with the Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, and Philadelphia Eagles.

Arians has a theory on why Armstrong, who has built strong special teams units, hasn't gotten more head-coaching consideration over the last few years.

"I think 'Hard Knocks' hurt him in his quest, because they showed him getting on the kid's *** so hard and made it look negative, when it was really a positive," Arians said, referring to the HBO documentary featuring the Falcons in 2014. "That's really want you want in your head coach."

Regardless of the perception from the show, Arians is confident Armstrong will be an NFL head coach at some point.

"He's a leader of men," Arians said. "He's got grit, toughness. He's a great family guy. His time will come, yes indeed."

Armstrong appreciates Arians putting him in position to coach in the NFL, period.

 

"He's the reason why I'm coaching," Armstrong said. "My senior year, I went back to fullback. He walked up to me during stretching -- I'm 195 pounds, so I'm not going nowhere -- he said, 'You want to be a grad assistant next year?' I said, 'I'll take it, coach.'"

Through Arians at Temple, Armstrong made a connection with the late Joe Moore, who was the Owls' offensive line coach and went on to establish an offensive line dynasty at Notre Dame. Moore then connected Armstrong with Jimmie Johnson at the University of Miami, where Armstrong landed his first official job as the Hurricanes' assistant defensive backs and special teams coach.

"If it wasn't for Bruce, none of that would have taken place," Armstrong said.

"I coach the way he coached me. I still coach to this day the way he coached me. He coached with passion. He coached with enthusiasm. Bruce is the type of guy who will get on you and five minutes later, it didn't even bother you. ... He could relate to guys, and he wasn't afraid to address guys. You really appreciated him because he let you know when you're were wrong, although he did let you know when you were right."

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The PC police holding Armstrong back? I remember that segment and I remember saying he77 yeah! That's how you coach!  These are grown men trying to make a team that's trying to win a superbowl.  No time to worry getting hurt feelings, want somebody to hold your hand? Go home to momma.

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3 minutes ago, Jesus said:

PC police? 

Yea cause no coach yells ever.

 

 

Exactly.

 

If that was the case Buddy Ryan, Rex Ryan, Bill Parcells, or Bill Cowher would've never gotten HC jobs.

 

All of them yelled and cursed. Parcells cussed-out a few of his players on the sidelines. Especially Phil Simms.

 

Mike Holmgren had many verbal altercations with Farve over his high risk style of play.

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2 hours ago, BAMF said:

The PC police holding Armstrong back? I remember that segment and I remember saying he77 yeah! That's how you coach!  These are grown men trying to make a team that's trying to win a superbowl.  No time to worry getting hurt feelings, want somebody to hold your hand? Go home to momma.

I agree with this 189% dude.

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2 hours ago, BAMF said:

The PC police holding Armstrong back? I remember that segment and I remember saying he77 yeah! That's how you coach!  These are grown men trying to make a team that's trying to win a superbowl.  No time to worry getting hurt feelings, want somebody to hold your hand? Go home to momma.

Amen bro!!  

PC police = Don't tell the truth and never tell it like it is!!  It's pure weakness.

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