Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians: Offense needs to ‘just execute’ inside red zone

Aug 20, 2013, 12:15 AM | Updated: 12:15 am
LISTEN: Bruce Arians- AZ Cardinals Head Coach

The Arizona Cardinals are off to a fast start in the preseason, as they’re one of only eight NFL teams to begin the exhibition schedule with a 2-0 record.

But it’s another number that’s caught head coach Bruce Arians’ attention heading into Saturday’s contest against the San Diego Chargers.

Eleven percent — as in the Cardinals’ success rate inside the red zone.

Despite victories over the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, Arizona’s offense has struggled mightily to make the most of its trips inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, managing just one touchdown — a one-yard pass from Drew Stanton to Jaron Brown in the second quarter of team’s 17-0 win at Lambeau Field on Aug. 9 — in nine trips during the preseason.

It’s a problem that was only exacerbated by an 0-for-5 performance against Dallas Saturday afternoon, including two trips by the first-team offense that ended in a 25-yard field goal and a turnover on downs.

Arians was a guest on Arizona Sports 620’s Bickley with Marotta Monday and said the key to his offense scoring in the red zone is rather simple.

“Just execute,” Arians said. “Just execute what you’re taught. Don’t improvise. Do what the playbook says and you’ll be fine. Don’t run a four-yard route on a third down and six from the six-yard line. That’s a Cardinal sin.

“You run your route on the goal line if you’re the underneath guy. Some of it was young players, some of it was older players. When they blitz, you have to run the proper hots.”

Specifically, Arians admitted he was upset with wide receiver Michael Floyd on the third-down play that eventually led to the turnover on downs in the first quarter.

On third and three from the Cowboys’ nine-yard line, Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer connected with Floyd for what looked to be enough for a first down. Instead, Dallas cornerback Danny McCray popped the unprotected ball free. Although center Lyle Sendlein eventually recovered the football, the Cardinals were faced with a fourth down and one at the seven-yard line instead of a new set of downs.

“It’s just the little itty-bitty things, the easy things that we need to correct,” Arians said. “But it’s frustrating that they continue to happen.”

Nearly four weeks into training camp, the first-year head coach noted that a lot of the errors and minor setbacks have a lot to do with intellect and very little to do with the speed and physicality of the game.

In his eyes, it’s an area that’s still very much a work in progress.

“Having played [the Cardinals] in the past I thought they were a physical team, obviously defensively I thought they were,” said Arians. “Offensively, it looked like they got away from the run and became more pass-oriented. But I don’t really care about the past.

“What we want to do is become smart, fast and physical. The smart part is the part that is lacking right now. We’re fast and physical, but we have to be a little smarter.”

Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass during the NFL game against the ...
Wills Rice

The 33rd Team: Cardinals’ Kyler Murray in Tier 1 of NFL players under 25

The 33rd Team ranked Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray the seventh best player in the league age 25 and under.
1 day ago
DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks catches a pass for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions dur...
Tyler Drake

NFC West offseason outlook: The Seattle Seahawks

After taking a look at the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams, it's time to turn the attention to the Seattle Seahawks:
1 day ago
Arizona Cardinals WR Marquise Brown looks on during minicamp on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Tempe....
Sam Graveline

Shook: Marquise Brown best Cards’ candidate to be 1st-time Pro Bowler

Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown has yet to make the Pro Bowl in his career, but NFL.com's Nick Shook thinks that could change in 2022.
2 days ago
Head coach Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams talks with players before mini camp on June 8, 2022 a...
Tyler Drake

NFC West offseason outlook: The Los Angeles Rams

After diving into the 49ers' current state of affairs, it's time to take a look at the 2021 Super Bowl champion Rams.
2 days ago
Detroit Lions fullback Jason Cabinda (45) pulls away from Arizona Cardinals inside linebacker Isaia...
Wills Rice

PFF’s Linsey: Arizona Cardinals have NFL’s No. 23 ranked roster for 2022

Pro Football Focus' Ben Linsey has the Arizona Cardinals as the No. 23 ranked roster heading into the 2022 season.
2 days ago
Kyler Murray #1 and Justin Pugh #67 of the Arizona Cardinals react after a penalty during the secon...
Arizona Sports

ESPN: OL Justin Pugh is Arizona Cardinals’ most underrated player

ESPN posted a list made by Football Outsiders of every team's most underrated player, and Justin Pugh was selected to represent the Cardinals.
3 days ago
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians: Offense needs to ‘just execute’ inside red zone