All-Access with Bruce Arians: Evaluating the Bears game
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Head coach Bruce Arians, now in his fifth year with the Arizona Cardinals, meets the media each day during training camp.
Here, in this space, we’ll highlight many of the key topics and personnel conversations he has with reporters following the morning walk-through.
“OK, after reviewing the film, as poorly as I thought we played we were winning 7-to-3 when I took the starters out of the game. Did not like the way we started the game but I liked the fact that when we left the game we were winning. Some young players did not play as well I hoped, especially those two inside backers — Haason (Reddick) got better. He looked more like a linebacker and blew a couple of coverages that led to easy receptions. Budda (Baker) got better but still got victimized with his eyes in the backfield one time on a bootleg and he was too far off down there on that touchdown pass but he got better in the game. He’s going to get better — both those guys, he and Haason, will get better the more they play.
“Offensively, I didn’t think our running backs really ran that well. There were some holes that we just didn’t hit. They would’ve been four or five-yard gains that we tried to bounce around for nothing. Offensive line played OK. Our tight ends did not play very well nor did our outside linebackers. Some of those runs that they got were our outside linebackers trying to do too much, jumping out of their gaps, not staying gap-sound and turning it back. Easily correctable things.
“The best thing about the game nobody got hurt.”
How do you look at the inside linebacker position? There still seems to be some unknown about Deone Bucannon.
“I haven’t been counting on Deone. That’s going to be a blessing. We’re counting on Karlos (Dansby) and I think he’ll be fine. Haason has gotten better. Josh Bynes has been a great find. Scooby (Wright), when he’s played his own position not a new position, was OK and played well on special teams. I don’t look at it as a gloom or doom thing because I think Karlos will be fine.”
Could Bucannon be activated off the physically unable to perform list this week?
“Yes. But it doesn’t mean he’ll practice. If we bring him off it will be so he can start doing walk-throughs.”
When do you think he can practice?
“Hopefully that last week of preseason.”
How is Reddick doing on pass coverage?
“When he’s on the right guy he’s doing really well. When he doesn’t have Karlos in there saying, ‘That’s your guy, go get him’ then he struggles a little bit. Scooby was worried about himself. He couldn’t help him too much. So, yeah, that part of it has been fine, when those two are in there together.”
When is Bynes coming back to practice?
“Hopefully today. We should get about five guys back today.”
With the tight ends, was it poor blocking?
“Yeah, very, very poor technique. I can’t think of any of them that blocked very well, even backside cutoffs, easy blocks we didn’t block very well.”
Is there any thought of giving Bynes more of rotational role given his experience?
“Yeah, he looks like he’s earning one so we’ll see how that goes.”
Is training camp too long?
“Um, yeah. I mean, traditionally four’s enough. When you go five (weeks) — it was really good for our young players just so that we could get them in pads and play football and teach them, especially our young linemen, offense and defensive linemen.”
How come you decided to go five weeks?
“Because we have to go home and practice outside. I don’t want to do that myself. Ninety guys in a bubble just don’t work. You’d be stepping all over each other. It’s so much easier to just stay here.”
You said after the game that Carson Palmer wasn’t sharp. Was that just an off night or something else?
“A little bit of both. Not studying them to the extent of what coverages they were going to be in, who was where and not putting a thorough gameplan together to beat their coverages, just running some of the stuff we’ve been working on. It just didn’t pan out.”
You will gameplan this week for the Falcons?
“We’ll have a full four days of Atlanta Falcon prep. Traditionally our third preseason game is our get-ready game.”
Will the starters play the first half?
“We’ll see. I would hope not, that we’d play well enough that we’d get 30 plays in and get out.”
Was Chris Johnson missing things or he wasn’t making the one guy miss?
“A little bit of both. He had a couple of runs where he bounced and could’ve just crammed it up in there for four or five and I think the one could’ve been as much as 10 or 12. Pressing a little bit.”
Does he still have the burst that he used to have?
“I’ve seen it in practice, yeah. There’s been a bunch of times he’s exhibited it, yeah.”
Did you just want Kerwynn Williams to concentrate on the return game? He didn’t have a carry in the game.
Have you found a punt returner in Williams?
“I think Kerwynn has done a really fine job. He’s had two plus-10s in back-to-back games. He’s pretty fearless back there, and it’s different tackling a running back than a receiver, a guy that can make you miss and he’s got some tackle-breaking ability and he has that.”
Will you have the players pick captains?
“When we get down to 53.”
Any players jump out to you after watching the film?
“I think Kareem Martin had a hell of a game. (Robert) Nkemdiche had a really good game. Other than the penalty, Olsen Pierre, we just got to teach him not to tackle him by the head when you get there. The guy just really ducked into it, but. Little ‘Smoke’ (Chris Hubert) had a heck of a game, other than that crazy interception play. (Jeremy) Ross had a really good game. (Blaine) Gabbert had a really good game. Ricky Seals-Jones had a nice run. All he had to do was catch it.”
With Ross, did that game do him some good with where he stands?
“Oh yeah. Any time you make an explosive play of 40 yards or more, that makes you look. He can really catch the football, and he’s not shy about putting his face in there.”
What does Hubert do so well that he seems to get open all the time?
“He’s quick and he’s fast. A lot of times we had some running plays called. They stacked it up. Threw out to him and he made the first guy miss. Those were cheap yards but good yards.”
What have Ross and Aaron Dobson added to the receivers room?
“Jeremy is just a solid player, does everything right. Textbook all the time. Aaron showed the ability to go behind people all spring. It’s a shame he hasn’t had a chance to play.”
Is it tough for David Johnson coming off the field so early?
“He doesn’t like it. He’ll like it in November.”
Will he see limited snaps against the Falcons?
So he’ll be the one exception?
“And Larry (Fitzgerald) probably. I don’t think after this many years Larry needs to be tackled. And if we throw it to him they’ll probably tackle him so probably won’t throw it to him.”
With Anquan Boldin announcing his retirement today, what comes to mind when you think of him as an NFL player? I know you didn’t get a chance to coach him.
“Fierce competitor. That shot he took in New York and came right back and played. He made that catch in the Super Bowl to setup what I thought was going to be a Hail Mary that scared the (expletive) out of me. Luckily (LaMarr) Woodley got the sack, for us, not for the Cardinals. Any time I think of ‘Quan, everybody said he couldn’t do it, too slow, this or that, was a quarterback, all that, but he’s way up there in the stats for the great ones. Just an unbelievable competitor.”
He talked about wanting to help people in society?
“He’s one of those great guys that sets examples for all these younger players on how you play the game and how you take care of the people that the game’s taken care of so you can go take care of more people.”
Besides Bynes, who else do you expect to be back at practice?
“Dobson, (Brittan) Golden, Bynes, Rudy Ford. I think everybody but (Philip) Wheeler.”
John Brown is OK?
“He’s going to practice. He will leave for a funeral after today’s practice and meet us in Atlanta.”
What about Jarvis Jones?
“Jarvis is close. Not yet.”
You might’ve heard that there was an eclipse today.
“Yeah. You know not to look at that damn thing, right? I know you looked at it. I actually was driving over here while it was going on and I did not look. Not without the proper eyewear.”