GLENDALE, Ariz. — If yardage totals were an indicator of how good an offense played, then one would think the Arizona Cardinals did a good job in Saturday’s preseason win over the Dallas Cowboys.
The offense tallied 365 of them — 260 through the air and 105 on the ground — and picked up 19 first downs in nearly 34 minutes of possession on the afternoon.
However, it’s not about how many yards you gain, and that the team scored just 12 points is of concern to head coach Bruce Arians, especially since the team had five trips into the red zone and failed to reach the end zone once.
“Scoring touchdowns,” he said Monday when asked what the biggest concern with the first-team offense was. “Just executing in the red zone; just minor things.”
For all the good the Cardinals did Saturday, they also did just enough bad to keep themselves from scoring as much as they should have.
“You want to be an offense that moves the ball,” Cardinals lineman Daryn Colledge said. Colledge then pointed to a playoff game last year between the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens where the Colts racked up 419 yards of offense but could muster just three field goals on the afternoon. “We need to be a team that can get the ball across the goal line.”
Arians admitted that scoring from the red zone is tough, adding that he calls it the “grimy area” of the field. Still, while he views the team’s issues as correctable, he is tired of seeing them.
Especially given how much effort is put in to learn how to handle such situations.
“We probably spend as much, or more, time than any other team in the league,” he said of red zone work.
And to be fair, Arians said mistakes in the red zone are “more glaring” than those in other aspects of the field. If they stop, the Cardinals may be able to reach their offensive goal of one point for every minute of possession.
With as much as the Cardinals had the ball Saturday, had they done that, they would have hung more than 30 points on the Cowboys. They certainly had their chances.
“Possession time doesn’t do anything to me,” Arians said. “You can hold it for 35 minutes, if you score 15 points you probably got beat.
“It’s production time: What do you do with the ball while you have it?”