TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, now in his third year with the team, meets with the media the day after every game.
In this space, we will highlight some of what Arians had to say, and Monday he talked about his team following a 47-7 dismantling of the San Francisco 49ers in Glendale, pushing the Cardinals’ record to 3-0 on the season.
He started with an opening statement:
“Good news after the ball game is basically we came out injury-free. A couple bumps and bruises but no loss of time with anyone. Hopefully, we’ll get some guys back this week. Andre (Ellington) and Mike (Iupati) will be limited again Wednesday, we’ll see how their progress is. I don’t think J.J. (Nelson) is quite ready yet, but he’s getting close.
“Very, very pleased with the team effort yesterday. I think as a football team, when you score defensively, you turn turnovers into points offensively, and special teams sets up safeties, you’ve got a good team effort. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination — we left a lot of yards out there offensively. We had some bad penalties that cost us close to 100 yards of offense and so there’s a lot of things to correct moving forward into this week.
“Obviously another big week, another division game. A very, very tough defensive front — probably the best in the league. We’ll have to be ready for it. I think the best thing our players do right now is they go day to day. They let everybody in this room (the media) talk about all that other crap, December and January and all the stats. But we just go to work each day and if we can stay that way we’ll be alright.”
How tough is it to get the team to stay that way?
“Not very. We have very good leadership in our room. They did a good job last week of keeping it that way and they know that’s what the key is.”
Last year, probably helps with that, too?
“Yeah. The game in Atlanta was one that I think some of the guys that were here remember quite vividly. So you can’t ever give up on them. This is different, this is a home game, this is a big division game so there’s not going to be any let up this week.”
What does it mean when you have talented defenders like Justin Bethel and Sean Weatherspoon on the roster but may not necessarily need them?
“We’re very fortunate, especially the defensive front — we’re rotating six guys, seven guys in there that are just lighting it up. I thought that was as dominating a defensive front four exhibition than I’ve seen in a while. Ed Stinson, Rodney Gunter played a whale of a game, Frostee (Rucker) — but everybody just did a heck of a job up front keeping our linebackers clean. But when you have the depth that we have, and we try to keep roles for everybody. Justin’s had a role, we just couldn’t get him on the field with those no huddles the first couple of times, but he’s got a major role defensively in our sub package. So we’ll continue to keep them all involved in special roles.”
Eight plays of 20 yards or more Sunday, how many do you go into a game looking to have?
“Six. A run for us, an explosive run for us is 15 (yards) and a pass is 22 (yards), so we hit it pretty solid the last two weeks. That’s what we want to be, we want to be explosive with our team speed.”
Last year you guys were more of a second half team, this season there have been fast starts. What’s changed?
“I think Carson is just playing extremely well offensively, and we keep winning the coin toss. That always helps. We like to start on offense, we’re very comfortable with him taking us out and getting us at least a few first downs and flipping field position, at worst, if not scoring.”
What’s happened with Palmer being able to rip apart the image of him being a journeyman QB?
“I don’t think it’s complete yet. I think he’s on his way to doing that and it will be a really nice thing to watch because he more than deserves it.”
Why do you think he had that perception?
“I think whatever happened with Mr. Brown (Bengals owner Mike Brown) in Cincinnati. People are going to turn on you when you stand up for what you believe in sometimes. I’m just happy for him it’s turning out really good, and hopefully, knock on wood, it continues.”
What does Carson need to do to make the perception completely go away?
“Win in the playoffs.”
What’s changed in the running game that has allowed it to be successful this season?
“I think there’s a little more emphasis, we’re better up front, we’re much better at tight end and our receivers are blocking extremely well. They take great pride in it. They know that backs are picking up blitzing linebackers when we’re throwing it to them, they need to pick up those guys when we’re running the football. Especially Larry (Fitzgerald) has done a great job.”
Where the offense is now, where is it on the scale of where you envision it?
“Six and a half or seven. We still had too many penalties and turned the ball over. Missed a couple hots that we shouldn’t have. So we still haven’t scratched it offensively, in my mind, how good we can be.”
Has Jermaine Gresham added a lot with his blocking?
“He has. Darren (Fells) has really improved, Troy (Niklas) is getting healthy again now, but Jermaine has jumped in there and done a good job blocking.”
How did Bobby Massie play Sunday?
“Bobby played fairly rusty. What cost him was the crowd noise. They couldn’t hear early in the game because the crowd noise got us, at home, and he gave up a pressure. And later, he really didn’t give up a sack, but he got victimized by getting off to a slow count because of crowd noise. We had to switch to a silent count because of it.”
Is that a little frustrating needing to go to a silent count at home?
“Wish it wouldn’t happen right now. We would hope that a visiting team wouldn’t get that many tickets that we would have to use a silent count at home.”
Does it surprise you how the 49ers didn’t focus on stopping Larry Fitzgerald or is it just too many options to cover?
“You just have to pick it up. If you stop the run or you stop him, then someone else — Smokey (John Brown), whoever it is, tight ends — when Carson spreads the ball around like this you can’t target anyone. You might target them on third down and double somebody, but that’s about it.”
How are you able to get the players to check their egos and have a team-first mentality?
“You have to have one to be able to play in the game at this level, but once you become a team, the team’s ego is bigger than yours. It’s not a coach’s job — it’s really the veterans on the team’s job to make sure that message gets delivered, and our guys have done that.’
How do you get your fans to quiet down at the right times?
“There weren’t our fans. They were the opposing fans who had way too many tickets.”
Is Chris Johnson the type of player who needs more carries to get better and how will the RB situation shake out when Andre Ellington comes back?
“Well we’ll just wait and see. He’s been one of those backs that likes to tote it, tote it, tote it, then they all tap out. Andre’s been the same way. So it’s going to be a nice problem to have with all three of those guys healthy.”
Why do you think Chris Johnson was still available in training camp?
“I really don’t know, whether it was the health of his shoulder with the shot or perception that he was finished. I don’t know why other teams didn’t look, I’m just glad that we did.”