How did things taste at the NFC Coaches Breakfast Wednesday morning at the Biltmore here in Phoenix? No clue. Hey, I was too busy interviewing Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians before bolting back to KTAR to be on-air. (I mean, how do you think I maintain my nickname — Paulie Pencilneck?!)
Enough of that, I had a chance to chat for a few minutes with Bruce Arians. So, let’s run the no-huddle Q&A with the Cardinals new head coach.
And let’s get specific. Since Drew Stanton hasn’t taken a regular season snap in two years, what can Arians tell us about his former Colts backup?
“Extremely bright. Very competitive. Can make all the throws. Is a little bit too tough for his own good sometimes. He’ll go running up in there and take some guys on. He’s a fiery competitor and that’s what it takes to play the game,” Arians said. “I’ve been around him for a year and I’ve never seen one (QB) improve his, I call it ‘swing,’ just like a golfer, in a year as much as he did. His accuracy was off the charts by December.”
Of course, last year, the Cards had a QB competition that spanned the entire offseason and five-game preseason. This season, it appears the QB competition will be decided before Mother’s Day.
“There will be NO quarterback competition,” Arians said when I asked the proverbial quarterback question. “If you have two, you have none. We will have a quarterback set by May 1st.”
Speaking of QBs, Coach Arians told the assembled media that he sees a half-dozen quarterbacks in the upcoming draft that will play a “long time” in the NFL, right?
“I do. I think they’ll play a long time,” Arians confirmed. “How soon? I don’t know. How dynamic will they be as rookies will totally depend on the team and the system.”
As for the offensive line, I asked Arians what he sees when he flips on the game film from last season?
“I see a revolving door. Every film you turn on there’s five different numbers up there, so you’re not going to be very good because it takes some continuity and cohesiveness to play as a group,” Arians said. “We have good depth. We’re going to have some good competition. And with that competition, we should have a pretty good offensive line. Now, we throw one more guy into that mix and we could have a really good offensive line. And that’s what it’s going to take for our division.”
Of course, as a direct result of the O-line woes up front, the Cardinals wound up last in the NFL in rushing. So, what does Rashard Mendenhall bring to the Cards backfield?
“Dynamic player,” said Arians, who coached Mendenhall in Pittsburgh. “He’s still young, he’s only 25. Carried us to the Super Bowl. He’s an every down player. He’s 230 pounds with 180 pound feet. He’s got unbelievable jump cut ability. He can catch the football. He pass protects. He never has to come out of the game. We rode him to the Super Bowl in Pittsburgh.”