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All-Access with Bruce Arians: A lot of good, some bad in win over Ravens

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians makes a call during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Tempe, Ariz. — Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians, now in his third year with the team, meets with the media the day after every game.

In this space we will highlight some of what Arians had to say, and Tuesday he talked about his team knocking off the Baltimore Ravens 26-18 on Monday Night Football.

He started with an opening statement:

“Watching the tape, there were a lot of really, really good things, and three or four really poor things. Obviously the missed extra point was huge. We were keeping it within a two-score game when the thing should have been out of hand on a simple extra point. Offensively, we did a great job of making first downs and then Andre (Ellington) plays junior high ball and runs out of bounds in a situation that a high school running back knows to stay inbounds. Then defensively, we dumped the tight end on that fourth down play when you’ve got to plaster on your guy, especially when you’re chasing him out of bounds and the game is over. Joe (Flacco) makes a great throw back in there, but we’ve got to stay on the tight end. We busted a coverage on the long pass down the sideline with a miscommunication between the safety and a corner. Then we recover and make a great play and win the game, so like I always say, you learn everything that you learn losing by almost losing and it feels a hell of a lot better. So we can take the corrections and make them. Then on the bright side, I thought we ran the ball extremely well against a good front. Carson (Palmer) overall played really well. The intentional grounding was probably me over coaching him. Because of Andre running the ball out of bounds, we had to keep playing football to win the game and kneel down and I told him to be extra careful with it. He saw what looked like was going to be a blitz and we actually picked it up and missed an interior block but he wasn’t going to take the sack when he probably should have taken a sack, but we’re throwing it away, just to make them use a timeout. Those are good things to correct and still win the ballgame.”

On what led them to pass the ball as opposed to running it on the second down of that drive in the fourth quarter:

“We knew they had the timeout and the two-minute warning so we could not kneel. We had to make another first down and we had a good play-action pass set up on a crack sweep. Larry (Fitzgerald) was wide open but it looked like there was going to be pressure. The offensive line went too far and turned one down lineman loose. That’s really who Carson felt, and like I said, he was going to be real careful with the ball. But that’s the time to go for the throat, and then at that point in time, the game’s over.”

On the blocked punt and whether Rashad Johnson should have held or grabbed a player to prevent it:

“Well, no. I’d like to have seen it blocked better. He shouldn’t have had two guys free. We had a left call and Mike Leach actually got tripped as he came back, which turned one guy loose. Rashad ended up on two so it was more technique. Troy Niklas uses some better technique. Rashad sent (Mike Leach) left. Had he sent him in the middle, it wouldn’t have happened. It shouldn’t have happened because we jumped offside on the exact same look the play before. We call that a Kodak. They didn’t change it so we should have been more prepared for it.”

On whether the special teams mistakes are very concerning:

“Not really. I’ve got faith in Chandler (Catanzaro) being a pretty good kicker. They also turned the game around with a big fumble recovery that led to a touchdown. The blocked punt is just making the correct call.”

On Jerraud Powers’ injury:

“It looks like a Grade 2 hamstring. It could be two weeks.”

On whether there is any concern at the cornerback position now with Powers’ injury:

“Well the concern would be the next injury or two. We feel that Cariel Brooks has really improved and is ready to go as a backup. Beyond that, we’ll be shuffling a lot of guys around. I have all the confidence in the world in Justin (Bethel) to handle the corner. We have so much flexibility at safety with Ty (Mathieu) being able to play corner and we have enough guys to do that. It’d be two injuries where we’d be spinning the bottle to find somebody to play back there.”

On whether it helps the team to have a bye week after this week’s game vs. Cleveland:

“No. We have a game this week. Screw the bye week. I don’t even want to hear talk about a bye week.”

On whether Patrick Peterson is being asked to do more fair catching on punt returns:

“No, that’s just his judgment.”

On whether Peterson is making good judgment by calling fair catches:

“Oh yeah.”

On what it meant to Chris Johnson to play a good game on Monday Night Football:

“I think it’s huge. Anytime someone has a big game on Monday Night Football, it’s street cred throughout the league. Everybody wants to shine on Monday night, and he’s had a history of being pretty good on Monday night.”

On what the game meant for Johnson considering all that he experienced this past offseason:

“I think it just added more ice cream on top of his cake.”

On where Tyrann Mathieu ranks with street cred after his performance last night:

“He’s right there at the top. He doesn’t really need any more, but it helps to shine in the big lights.”

On whether Mathieu is a player who rises to the occasion during a nationally-televised game:

“There’s no doubt. He plays every game, but with the great ones, it’s a five-star game. If you’re a five-star player, you need to play five-star.”

On whether his headsets worked alright last night:

“Always.”

On whether the play that led to Tony Jefferson’s interception was similar to a play from last season’s game vs. Philadelphia when they brought pressure:

“It was very similar. Very similar. We’re not going to stand back and just rush three or four. That’s not our style.”

On Jefferson’s interception:

“It was a good catch. It’s a good catch. I’d like to see him not give up that first one, but it’s a good way to bounce back.”

On whether he ever holds his breath when Larry Fitzgerald is blocking in between the tackles:

“No. He’s big and strong and he knows how to move his feet.”

On how he views forward progress in regard to Chris Johnson’s run last night:

“They play until the whistle blows. We’ve seen too many of those. We’ve had one against us where we kind of relaxed and the guy jumped up and ran. You’ve got to play until the whistle blows. He’s a runner and he’s not down until the whistle blows.”

On how aware a player has to be to make the play that Johnson did:

“I think you have to be very aware. You have to be into the moment. He knew he was sitting on top of the guy and he didn’t hear any whistle and he just kept on going. I was standing away and I said, ‘Go!’”

On whether Arizona had its headsets turned off when Baltimore had difficulties with its headsets:

“We were never asked to.”

On whether it’s unusual that Arizona didn’t turn off their headsets when Baltimore had difficulties with theirs:

“If they had a problem, they should have notified the referee and the referee would have notified us.”

On how often he has had headset problems as a coach:

“They happen a lot on the road. One time in Baltimore, I had a hot dog vendor on a critical 4th-and-1 call. The hot dog vendor came on and started talking about how they needed hot dogs in some section and we couldn’t get the play call. A coincidence.”

On who played well upfront to allow Arizona the run the ball effectively:

“I would say A.Q. Shipley. When A.Q. plays, somebody hits the ground on all of them. Hard. But as a group, I thought the entire blocking unit, the offensive line as a group, tight ends, Larry and the receivers, blocked well in this game. They have to, to have long runs.”

On what he saw from Markus Golden Monday night:

“He’s exactly what we drafted – a junkyard dog. He goes full speed in practice all the time. You have to tell him, ‘Whoa.’ That’s what his signature is. It’s his motor.”

On whether it’s enjoyable to be on the other side of questionable officiating calls:

“Yeah, it’s a lot nicer. There were some the other way too. We had three guys being tackled in the end zone on one of those passes. Not held, but being tackled. Jaron Brown was tackled before he caught the ball. So they go both ways.”

On whether Dwight Freeney’s quarterback pressures will turn into sacks in future games:

“Yes and no. He was fourth or fifth in the league in pressures a year ago. You need another compadre to hold him in the pocket for you, either coming up the middle or coming off the other side. As we build it, hopefully when we get Alex (Okafor) back and with Markus (Golden), Calais (Campbell) needs to show up a little bit more coming up the middle, and then Dwight will get those sacks.”

On when Alex Okafor will return from his injury:

“It’s going to be real close this week. Real close.”

On whether it’s routine that Deone Bucannon is the team’s leading tackler in every game:

“There’s no doubt that that’s the way it’s all set up.”

On how Markus Golden is coming along this season:

“He’s playing extremely well. For a rookie, he’s probably six weeks ahead of where I thought he would be. Normally you don’t count on them until after Thanksgiving, but he’s done a nice job, with Alex’s injury, of stepping in there and playing solid in both base and nickel. His role has really increased.”

On why Golden is ahead of schedule in his development:

“It’s because he’s got a lot of pride. He’s got a lot of pride and he doesn’t want to come back out of that lineup.”

On the crowd Monday night:

“Fantastic. I think probably the only thing that can come close was last year’s Seattle game. That had a playoff and electric atmosphere. The crowd was fantastic.”

On there being a lot of people dressed up as Bruce Arians at the game:

“That still cracks me up.”

On the situation where the young fan was given a ball after a football was taken away from him:

“That goes without saying. Somebody with the little kid should have taken care of that. But nowadays, you’ll get thrown out of the game for that. It was just really nice that he got a ball.”

On his thoughts on the Cleveland Browns:

“The one thing about Mike (Pettine) is that he is a Rex (Ryan) disciple. They are very complex and very solid defensively; probably the most exotic blitz group that we’ll face. They’re kind of a combination of Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but more of it. Karlos (Dansby) is doing a great job of leading them defensively. Again, we’re in a situation where we have to prepare for two quarterbacks. We’ll do as much as possible to get ready for both of them.”

On whether the bye week will affect his decision on whether a player is healthy enough to play:

“Yes. The biggest thing is backups and depth. There are certain positions, we have enough depth, we cannot risk reinjuring that thing for further on down the line.”

On Arizona’s second-half defensive adjustments:

“We did a better job of staying in our gaps. Our gap integrity was so much better in the second half. They got the touchdown run, Calais jumps in the wrong gap and they split us. With things like that, it’s trying to do too damn much instead of just trying to play your gap integrity. Especially against those fast zone teams that are going to run the ball like that. You have to have gap integrity.”

On whether the team was closer to having 60 minutes of focus against the Ravens:

“Much closer. There were only three or four. The blocked punt, I think, was huge. The missed extra point was huge. The rest of it I thought we were playing as hard as we could possibly play. We had the one miscommunication on the pass down the sideline with Justin (Bethel) and the safety. Especially coming out of the locker room in the third quarter, I thought we were ready to roll.”

On why Arizona didn’t take its final timeout in the first half:

“There was enough time on the clock to get the punt return. We weren’t going to try to block it, so we were just trying to set it up for the punt return and see what happens. And, they notoriously fake a lot of punts.”