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All-Access with Bruce Arians: We didn’t get it done vs. Rams

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians watches during the second half of an NFL football game against the St. Louis Rams, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

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 24-22 home loss to the St. Louis Rams. It was Arizona’s first loss of the season, dropping them to 3-1 overall.

He started with an opening statement:

“Other than stating the obvious, the same things that we saw yesterday were obvious on tape. You can’t play situational football the way we did in that game and win very many ball games, although all we’ve got to do is complete a pass and get a kick and we win the game anyway. Those type of games we’ve won for two years — it’s the first one that we’ve lost like that and it’s hard to swallow because of the fact that we have won so many in the fourth quarter here the last two years. I think we just anticipated we’d make the play to win this one and we didn’t get it done.

“Injury-wise, really there’s nothing to report. No one was injured in the ball game, thank goodness. We’ll regroup and get ready this week. But the same statistics that were on the sheet after the game were here this morning, so there’s no different, there’s no news.”

How close was Andre Ellington to making his return Sunday?

“Very close, very close. It was really a game-time decision between he and a healthy player, how much we would have used him. So I went with the healthy guy.”

As the play-caller how much do you dwell on the last possession and dissect it?

“Yeah, every play. Both sides of the ball and the kicking game. That’s how you do your evaluations on individuals and as a group. As defensive players, offensive play callers, you digest it all and see what could have been better. Once you start second guessing yourself it’s time to get out of the business.”

Is there any one play that stands out, obviously the ones that stand out are last drive?

“Yeah, I would have liked to completed one of those two balls because we had open guys and decent protection.”

What leads to defensive players missing assignments and being in the wrong place?

“Trying to do too much. Rushing the passer instead of squeezing the cut-back, that was one big one. On a split zone play you’ve got to squeeze the cut-back and not rush the passer or you’re going to open up a huge hole, which happened. Defensively, spinning out of a block and getting out of your gap, something as simple as that tends to hurt you when you’re trying to do too much.”

After the game ILB Kevin Minter took responsibility for not getting players lined up properly.

“He did a couple times. It wasn’t a wholesale thing, but it was more of him hitting a gap and spinning out rather than staying in his gap a couple of times.”

How did the offensive line grade out against the Rams’ front seven?

“Not very well and it really was more pass protection. We ran the ball extremely well, very efficiently. But the pass protection, as a group, was very iffy and it was all the way across. It’d be nice to point at one guy but all five guys had a hand in it, and the tight ends, and the backs. David missed a blitzer one time that he was supposed to pick up. Tight end and tackle missed a blitzer they were supposed to pick up. Our communication was terrible in this ball game. When they went into their three-man line, nickel blitzes, we did not handle it very well.”

How did Mike Iupati look, did he have any rust?

“He had a little bit but he was very physical and we can get by with his mistakes.”

Do you think there was any kind of self-congratulation after the quick start?

“No, not at all. We knew what to expect from this team. Simple thing like putting the ball in your outside arm to start the game, it has nothing to do with overlooking the competition. It’s just simple fundamentals.”

What are the challenges in having to prepare for a running back who has not played a lot?

“You prepare for what they do, not him. Just stay in your gap, he doesn’t gain anything like he did in the first half. And then you get out of your gap, he just runs free. So it’s really simple.’

Big picture, at 3-1 are you happy with your position especially with six of the next eight games on the road?

“I’m happy that we’re in first place. I would have liked to have had that game — hopefully this won’t come back to haunt us. But the first road trip, we handled it very business-like. This, again, will be a different road trip. The first one will be normal, the second one, staying in West Virginia can be a distraction if you let it be, or it can be a very focused week like it was in Tampa a couple years ago in the rain. We didn’t play great but we won the ball game.”

Was Tavon Austin’s big game a product of too much speed for Jerraud Powers to handle?

“No, that wasn’t Jerraud. Jerraud gave him inside leverage to a guy who was supposed to be inside waiting for him who wasn’t there.”

What did you think of the non-fumble call?

“It was obvious but we should have recovered the fumble the play before and it would never have happened. When it was laying between our legs. We had our chances.”

Was it clear to the coaches upstairs that you didn’t recover that fumble?

“Once it got in the scrum it’s over with. Now, if it had been a clear recovery before the scrum you could challenge it, but no one really possessed it before the scrum.”

How good was Calais Campbell Sunday?

“He was lights out. That was as dominating a performance as you could ask for a defensive lineman. It’s just a shame it was in a loss.”

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