All-Access with Bruce Arians: Jaguars’ transition ‘amazing’

Nov 22, 2017, 6:19 PM | Updated: 6:23 pm

(AP Photo)...

(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

Head coach Bruce Arians, now in his fifth year with the Arizona Cardinals, meets the media several times leading up to gameday.

Here, in this space, with help from the Cardinals’ media relations staff, we’ll highlight many of the key topics and personnel conversations he has with reporters following practice.

Opening statement:

“Not practicing, John Brown with the turf toe, Karlos Dansby and Larry Fitzgerald were vet days. Josh Mauro, Elijhaa Penny, Corey Peters and Olsen Pierre did not practice today. Hopefully, we’ll get a few of them back tomorrow. A good start to the week, a heck of a challenge. The No. 1 running team and the No. 1 points defense. They’re a very impressive football team coming in that’s going to be a heck of a challenge.”

On the impact their cornerbacks have on the front seven:

“It makes it easy. Any time you have two elite corners, there are a whole lot of things you can do as far as robbing other players and double-teaming people, because you can single those guys.”

On how Jacksonville has built its team the last few years:

“It’s an amazing transition. It’s the last two years of free agency, especially, but they hit on the draft on some really good players. Dante Fowler’s back looking full speed, and then you add (Malik) Jackson, Calais (Campbell) and some of those other guys, they built a defense really quick.”

On if Jacksonville’s turnaround has provided a blueprint for other struggling teams:

“Yeah, I think it’s the same blueprint that everybody’s got: draft real good and hit a couple free agents.”

On the importance of a balanced attack against a defense like Jacksonville’s:

“You’ve got to stay balanced. You hopefully stay balanced successfully, but you still have to stay balanced. You can’t let this front tee off on you. They lead the league in takeaways, because they all have such good ball skills, and they have a lot of eyes on the quarterback. They don’t always play man-to-man.”

On if QB Blaine Gabbert has fully developed in the offense or if he’s still learning:

“Yeah, I think you’re always learning things. If you quit learning things, you’re going to fall behind, but he’s in a position where he knows exactly what this game plan calls for and what he has to do on Sunday.”

On if there’s a specific area in which he’d like Gabbert to improve from last week:

“Yeah, just throw it two feet in front of those two guys at the end. Other than that, he played really, really well. The couple high balls, people were up in his face, but he was on time to the right guys. So, there wasn’t a whole lot to improve on.”

On if Jaguars QB Blake Bortles is playing differently this year or controlling and hanging on to the ball better:

“I think he’s improved every year. The biggest thing is that he’s handing it off 35 times a game and not having to throw it 40 times a game. It’s a whole lot bigger comfort level for a quarterback.”

On if he sees comparisons between Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette and other running backs he has coached:

“Yeah, I mean he’s very close to (Rams running back Todd) Gurley. They were very similar coming out, and they both run, catch and are shifty, big guys. I think he was the closest thing to Todd.”

On if this game has any special meaning for Gabbert:

“I would think so. Any time you go against somebody you’ve played for, played with, there’s always a little something special. But, I don’t think he gets out of control.”

On if Gabbert was rushed into the league too quickly:

“No. No, I don’t believe that. I think that when you draft quarterbacks number one, you play them.”

On if it took Gabbert awhile to develop under multiple offensive coordinators:

“Yeah, seven of them, or six coordinators, and eight head coaches – however many coaches it was or coordinators. That’s not a recipe for success for anybody.”

On how he feels about the running game this week:

“We’ll find out on Sunday. That’s a hard front – big, strong, physical front. The 4-3 is totally different than last week, so there shouldn’t be any confusion. It’s just this guy, me and you.”

On if playing outside has helped Jaguars DL Calais Campbell’s sack total in Jacksonville:

“Not more in sack totals; it’s more in the running game. When you add the big fella inside and put him over the tight end, that’s an all-day job for a tight end to block Calais.”

On if Campbell should have had more sacks as a defensive tackle in Arizona:

“Yeah, because he played nickel so much. I think that 3-4 defensive end moniker, that’s only in first-and-10 a lot of times. They’re three-techniques or shades any other time; nickel’s probably 60 percent of the game.”

On how much Campbell is missed in the locker room:

“Everybody loved Calais. As far as leadership, we’ve got just as good of leaders as we’ve ever had, but he was a great guy to be around. He was great in the community, and was a hell of a Cardinal.”

On who will be targeted without RB Andre Ellington and the possibility of WR John Brown not playing:

“We’ll see. That’s up to the quarterback depending on the coverage. We don’t say, ‘Hey, throw it to this guy 10 times.’ It’s just whatever the coverage dictates, that’s where the ball goes.”

On the decision to release Ellington:

“Poor play. Just poor play.”

On if it’s time to look at RB D.J. Foster following Ellington’s release:

“Yeah, and I didn’t feel like him sitting inactive was going to help our roster any.”

On why he feels that rookies are no longer rookies by this time of year:

“They’ve had a full college football season – four preseason games and they’ve got 11, 12 games under their belt, and they shouldn’t be rookie anymore.”

On if it’s hard to not play a rookie who has flashed early in the season like S Budda Baker:

“No, because Tyvon (Branch) was playing so well. Tyvon was having a Pro Bowl season, and he still wouldn’t be playing a whole lot if Tyvon hadn’t gotten hurt.”

On if any of the players on injured reserve are ready to start practicing:

“No, no. It’s very disappointing, because they’re not making the progress we had hoped.”

On if any of the players on injured reserve will return:

“We’ll wait and see, but from today, it looks like no.”

On if RB David Johnson is included in that group of players who may not return from injured reserve:

“Yes, all of them.”

On if the Cardinals could make the playoffs as a wild card team at 9-7:

“The way the league is, 9-7 might win a division. I don’t know this year. We’ve just got to win one, and we have this nice home stretch, take advantage of it and see how they fall. But yeah, the way this is going this year, I don’t know who’s going to win what.”

On how difficult it is to get up to speed on a team like Jacksonville after not playing them in years:

“It’s like any time you change divisions and they change head coaches, it’s new every year. So, no different than it’s always been.”

On if he sees Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin’s handprints on the team:

“A little bit. A little bit. (Jaguars Head Coach) Doug Marrone is a tough-minded guy. I’ve always respected Doug. He’s a run-the-football guy and hard defense, hardnosed. So yeah, I think they’re a good pair.”

On how much he knows about Jaguars Defensive Coordinator Todd Wash and his background:

“Not as much as the secondary coach, Perry Fewell. There are a lot of his imprints on the defense, but it’s a style we’ve seen plenty of.”

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