The Arizona Cardinals have fought tooth and nail to come out with an even record (2-2) after the first four weeks, but an often-stagnant offense has made wins harder to come by than they needed to be.
Before Jay Feely’s 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday, the team hadn’t put up a point since the first quarter of the game a week earlier against New Orleans — making for a scoring drought of more than 103 minutes.
Starting quarterback Carson Palmer said head coach Bruce Arians has specifically addressed the team’s offense in practice this week.
“We’ve been close to on the same page, but you can’t be close. You’ve got to have 11 guys on the same page,” Palmer said. “If 10 are on and one is off, it’s probably not going to be a successful play; that’s something that Coach really emphasized this morning.”
Palmer has become an easy target of blame for the team’s offensive woes this year. The 10-year veteran has thrown more picks (six) than touchdowns (four), and his completion percentage (57.2) is well below his career clip.
“You always want to play better no matter what your passer rating is or how many yards you throw for. You always look at game film and say, ‘I wish I would have hit that one, or I wish I would have gone to this side of the field,'” the quarterback said. “But I’m going to continue to improve. I’ll continue to do that this week, and I expect myself and the players around me to be much more successful this week.”
If fans are placing all the blame on Palmer, Coach Arians isn’t buying it.
“I think Carson has played outstanding,” Arians said. “He’s had a couple of interceptions that I’m sure he’d like to have back…Other than that, the greatest thing that he’s done is he’s overcome adversity with our offense and won two games in the fourth quarter.
“That’s what you want out of your quarterback. The numbers, they’ll come. Our offense is still stretching to find its identity.”
Arians said part of the problem has been pass protection for Palmer, and that any quarterback would have a tough time excelling in those situations.
“He’s gotten hit way too much,” the coach said. “I’ve never been around one that liked to get hit, especially coming up the middle.
“We feel like overall protection has gotten better, as far as sacks, but some of that is because he’s getting rid of the football too.”
The first-year Cardinals coach said the team’s offense has been plagued by making errors in games that aren’t happening in practice.
Palmer best explained how Arians has addressed that issue.
“I think he wants to go with an approach of being a little more simple — you know, not out-thinking our opponent,” Palmer said. “And that’s something that we need to do a better job of — getting to our spots, getting to our right positions…and just playing faster.”
Arians said those types of errors need to be eliminated and that he thinks they will be this week.
“Some of the excuses are over now because it’s not September anymore, but way back I’d said we’d win on special teams and defense as our offense grew,” he said. “It’s time for our offense to grow and show up.”