It’s clear the Arizona Cardinals aren’t far from being a capable offensive team.
While it’s certainly been ugly at times, the Cardinals have clearly advanced from the offense they trotted out for the three years since Kurt Warner’s retirement, though that’s not an overly difficult improvement to make.
But while the Cardinals are close to being a significantly better offensive team, head coach Bruce Arians said the process is taking longer than it’s taken at any of his previous three stops as an NFL offensive coordinator.
“It’s not normal,” Arians said. “We’ve looked at it long and hard, as a coaching staff, whether we’re asking too much. Everyone decided that we’re not. We need to do better, both as players and coaches.”
Arians said the offensive miscues have been a matter of a yard here or missed assignment there, adding that the Cardinals should have converted at least four third-down conversions in Sunday’s 13-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rather than the one that they did.
“Whether it’s dropped balls, poor throws, bad spacing on routes … we should have been 40 percent in that game,” Arians said. “It was putrid. That’s a good defense, but we continually harmed ourselves with mental errors, which sounds very repetitive. It’s getting repetitive.
“If it was one guy, it’d be easy to fix. It seems like we have eight or nine guys playing well each play, then two guys decide to do the wrong thing.”
Despite his criticism of the team’s continual mental errors, Arians said the offensive performance hasn’t been all negative. The Cardinals rank toward the top of the league in yards gained on first down, and have found themselves in good second- and third-down situations far more often than not.
But Arizona has often failed to convert once it’s gotten itself in those situations — the Cardinals’ 29.2 third-down-conversion percentage is third-worst in the NFL — and the offense has often fallen victim to a poorly run route, missed blocking assignment or misread by a running back.
“We need to grow faster to get where we want to go,” Arians said. “We’ve just got to keep practicing. Put guys in the position where they can be successful. We’re not that far off.”