TEMPE, Ariz. — Critical mistakes in all areas of the game cost the Arizona Cardinals more times than they would have liked in 2016. Throughout Organized Team Activities, Bruce Arians has been making a strong point to address and work toward correcting those mistakes.
“That’s been a big point of emphasis,” Arians said following OTAs on Thursday.
“We had plays that we had made years past, that we just didn’t make. Whether it be kicks, finishing a game defensively or offensively … we just didn’t make the plays and had a couple mental errors in critical situations that we hadn’t made in the past.”
As the horn sounded and OTA’s wrapped, you could sense a certain frustration from Arians.
“We finished with two-minute drives today and the young guys panicked,” Arians said. “When the clock’s running we have a certain play we go to, and they lined up all over the place and those are the types of things that get you beat.”
That sentiment should feel both appropriate and necessary for the Cardinals heading into a new season. Although they concluded 2016 on a high note with a 44-6 thumping of the Rams, crucial mistakes proved costly too often.
In one-score games last season, the Cardinals were 2-5-1. In the two years prior, Arians teams were 10-2 in such games, a stark representation of how critical mistakes can prove costly.
Expectations were high for the Cardinals heading into 2016 and Arians knows success comes with players knowing how to make the plays in high stakes situations.
“A lot of it is self-discipline and just being smart enough to handle pressure,” Arians said. “I’ve seen some really bright young players that don’t make those mistakes and they’re calm under pressure.”
Arians said it pretty well. Not everyone knows how to successfully handle pressure when it hits them. If a player enters into a situation of unfamiliarity and they don’t know what they’re doing, they can expect to feel pressure.
On the other side, if you know what you’re doing, you never feel it. The Cardinals certainly had their fair share of that in 2016 and they’re hoping to build off of that in 2017.
OTAs will conclude tomorrow morning and in terms of correcting the unwanted mistakes, they’ll continue to address them.
“We’re going to go very, very light tomorrow,” Arians said. “More young guys, a lot of red zone stuff.”