Steve Keim, Kliff Kingsbury believe Cardinals must start faster to succeed
Count head coach Kliff Kingsbury and GM Steve Keim among those that feel the Arizona Cardinals must clean up their play early in games to reach the postseason for the first time in five years.
Kinsbury addressed the team’s first half woes on Wednesday, saying the Cardinals must find a way to get out of the starting block cleaner than they have recently to succeed.
“We’ve had some really positive moments offensively but we still lead the league in negative plays which is something that we need to get cleaned up as we enter this back half of the schedule,” Kingsbury said.
“You’d like to have your first 10-15 plays be successful. I know that that’s kind of the mantra around the league is that you have your scripted plays and those run smoothly and you get off to a good start, and we haven’t been able to do that for myriad reasons.”
Kingsbury’s team is currently ranked last in the NFL in penalties per game at 7.9, which is 1.1 more than the next highest average in the league, with the Buffalo Bills averaging 6.8 penalties per game this season.
The second-year Cardinals coach said the team must clean things up promptly in their final six regular season games, as they’ll play staunch competition during that stretch.
That gauntlet includes Sunday’s road game against the New England Patriots, who Arizona hasn’t beaten in Foxborough since 2012.
“As we get into this back half of the season, we have to start faster,” he said. “We can’t be playing catch-up the entire time like we have been the past month.”
Keim expressed his frustration with the team’s bounty of penalties on 98.7 FM Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf, calling them indefensible at this point in the season.
“The one thing that concerns me is the mistakes we’ve made, the negative yards, the self inflicted penalties,” Keim said. “Those are things to me that are inexcusable. We have to stay disciplined and focused to eliminate those issues.”
Keim said the Cardinals could be even better than their current 6-4 record if they found a way to stay composed and make correct decisions in their narrow defeats this season.
“There are games that I can point back to, whether it was Detroit or even Miami, that were certainly winnable for us, we didn’t do a good enough job,” Keim said. “But then there were some other games where we hung in there even though we were down and we faced adversity.”
Keim’s hope is that the Cardinals can shake off the 11 a.m. kickoff time in Massachusetts on Sunday and put together a solid, 60 minutes of football to earn the team’s seventh win of the year.
“I talked about earlier, we prevailed in the end because we believed in each other. But it would be nice to come out and play fast and eliminate those mistakes and the penalties,” he said. “To really come out to a fast start and put the pressure on the other team for once.”