New Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf he likes to ask a question of players at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
“I want to know is it more important to you to win a Super Bowl or go to a Pro Bowl,” he said. “Most of them have that answer, that it’s a team game.
“But you can tell by the way they say it if they’re more interested in themselves or the team.”
It’s that simple.
In truth, Arians said the combine is a chance to get a first-hand look at players who “are coached up pretty good” to begin with. A good impression in Indianapolis makes a difference as teams begin to put together their draft boards, and it’s not always about what the player does on the field.
“Right now there’s so many background checks on these guys, if they have made a mistake you’d like to hear about it from them,” he said. “Some guys made one mistake and they’ve done great ever since; you want to give them the benefit of the doubt.
“And other guys, obviously, have made more than one and you’ve got to put red flags up. I think those are things that as you get through the evaluation process and you start stacking that board, character is huge.”
But while Arians is busy learning about potential Cardinals in Indy, he’s also spent time getting to know the players currently on the roster and those who will be available in free agency.
It’s all about figuring out what the Cardinals will need going forward.
And, Arians said, he’s realized the biggest issue for the 5-11 Cardinals wasn’t really a lack of talent — especially up front.
“I think injuries. The cohesiveness of the offensive line was shredded,” he said. “I think once you start getting down to the eighth, ninth and tenth guy on the offensive line, you’re in trouble.
“And the guy that’s usually in trouble is your quarterback.”
Arians has said pretty much from the time he arrived that he thinks Arizona’s offensive line is not as bad as it looked, believing that improved health along with another year of experience will go a long way towards making the group pretty effective.
That would certainly help the offense improve, and it needs to. The Cardinals were last in the NFL in total offense and second to last in points per game in 2012, so Arians has his work cut out for him there.
But where he doesn’t seem to have much to do is on defense, which was very much a strength of the team’s last season.
But, Arians said, that does not mean there’s no room to improve.
“I think the defense with just a piece or two could be dynamic,” he said. “And we’re going to do everything we can to build to our strengths, which is our defense right now, and make them as dominant as possible.”
Arians said the team could afford to use a “dynamic edge pass rusher,” but noted every team could. The same goes for another shutdown cornerback or a young safety.
“But the core, when you look at the division, both lines of scrimmage on all the teams are really solid,” he said. “And we’ve got to continue to build that defensive line and just make it as dominant as possible, and then add some pieces on the back end.”