Many coaches fall into the trap of their system, their philosophy, their belief about the style of football they wish to play and see any deviation from that dogma as capitulation.
That’s why I was so impressed with B.A. on Sunday. He morphed into Vince Lombardi.
The Cardinals started the game by throwing the ball five times in their first eight plays from scrimmage. Then, Carson Palmer threw a bad pick to Asante Samuel that resulted in three points for Atlanta. From that point forward, everything changed and B.A. called the game more like Marty Schottenheimer than the gunslinger that he is.
The Carson Palmer pick occurred at the 5:47 mark of the first quarter. From that point forward, Big Red had 50 more snaps and threw the ball only 13 times. Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor became the focal point of the offense.
Much of this had to do with the success the Cards were having on the ground, but maybe there was something more? I think it’s very possible that B.A. had an epiphany: he can’t keep putting his defense in bad situations and expect to win games. Palmer has thrown 14 interceptions, and many of them have led to points for opposing offenses.
The defense has been very good all year. Not only have they done an excellent job creating turnovers, shutting down the run and holding teams to minimal points on sudden change, where the offense turns the ball over and the defense is right back on the field, but they have proven to be the strength of this team.
And Bruce Arians will be the first one to admit it.
There was another interesting byproduct that came out of channeling Lombardi: Carson Palmer started playing well. He was truly in a three-dimensional offense. And Palmer rallied himself — as he has a few times this season. He played much better the rest of the way. He threw two touchdown passes to Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd that were as good as you could execute. He settled down and managed the game. And maybe this is the type of offense he needs to be in at this point of his career?
Make no mistake, if the Cards are going to run the ball more and get Andre Ellington touches, their defense has got to keep them in games and not allow opponents to get leads and make Carson & Co. one dimensional. But if Todd Bowles’ defense continues to play the way they have in the first half of the season, B.A. will continue to pound the ball more and more.
B.A. is an excellent coach with a great offensive mind; he does like to throw the ball and he is dogmatic…but he’s not delusional.