Dealing Cards: Michael Floyd knows he must start making plays
TEMPE, Ariz. — There are plenty of reasons why the Arizona Cardinals are off to a poor start offensively, and a good number of players who could shoulder some responsibility.
One player who might carry a larger share than others is receiver Michael Floyd, whose drop on Arizona’s first play from scrimmage against the Bills has been cited numerous times by head coach Bruce Arians as a killer. It was the beginning of what would be a pretty rough day for Floyd, who caught four of 11 passes thrown his way and in the fourth quarter appeared to read coverage wrong and in the process hung QB Carson Palmer out to dry on an interception.
Oh, and Floyd’s head also hit the turf hard at one point, and though he passed a concussion test during the game, was entered into the protocol on Monday after waking up with a headache.
By Wednesday, Floyd had been cleared to resume practicing, and he went through the session in a yellow non-contact jersey without any symptoms. So, he should be completely cleared by Thursday.
The matter of his early-season struggles, however, still remains.
“I would say some of the balls, them 50-50 balls, I don’t think we would be having this conversation if I came down with them,” Floyd said after practice Wednesday. “But that’s just how it is now and I’ve got to look forward for next week and making big plays, because they’re going to come to me every single week. It’s up to me to make them.”
On the season, Floyd has caught nine passes for 134 yards with one touchdown on 24 targets. Many of the passes thrown his way are of the contested variety, with Palmer trusting the 6-foot-2, 220-pound wideout to make a play. Some of them, like the one he dropped in the first quarter against Buffalo, are much easier.
There are also some that, because of a misunderstanding, turn into turnovers.
“I think, for sure, for me, there was a play down field where I saw the coverage differently,” Floyd said. “I spoke with Carson after that, he was correct, we made the corrections during meetings and we move forward. I don’t plan on having that mistake again, and we settled it there.”
While Floyd’s start may not be up to the standard he set for himself, Palmer believes there has been no drop-off in play from the fifth-year pro.
“Mike Floyd’s catching balls in practice every day,” he said. “He’s catching balls consistently with his hands. I have a ton of faith in him and I expect every ball I throw to him for him to make a catch or jump over somebody to make a catch. But he’s made tons of plays and that’s that.”
The only thing missing from Floyd’s game compared to last season, according to Arians, is consistency, both in practice and in games.
“He shines and then all of a sudden he’ll drop an easy one,” he said. “You just can’t do that.”
Floyd is not the only player on the offense who has not played up to his normal standard, and in the passing game especially, things for whatever reason seem to be off.
“There are some parts in the game where sometimes one individual might see something different in the coverage, but I think it’s just all, individually, we’ve got to look at ourself,” he said. “For me, just going back, looking at the film by myself, and just seeing what the quarterback is seeing and make the corrections and talk to him after you make the corrections and see how we can get better the next week.”
Floyd getting on track would do a lot for both the Cardinals and his future. The 26-year-old is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of this season, and with a good year could find himself on the receiving end of a nice new contract.
He admitted there is no way to completely remove thoughts of next season from his head, and noted they are in his head “for sure.”
“But I can only control what I can control, and that’s going out there and making plays and starting off fast,” he said. “And when those 50-50 balls come to me, it’s all about making the plays.”
The official injury report can be found here, but Wednesday saw the return to practice for a couple of ailing Cardinals, with guard Evan Mathis and linebacker Kareem Martin practicing on a limited basis. The only players who did not practice were defensive lineman Frostee Rucker (knee) and punter Drew Butler (achilles).
On Monday, Arians said even though Butler would not be available to punt, the plan was to possibly keep him active on game days to hold on field goals and PAT attempts. By Wednesday, however, that idea seemed to fall by the wayside.
“I’m holding that as a secret,” Arians joked when asked if Butler could still be the holder. “That’s a secret. That’s so potentially dangerous that the Rams might know that. I doubt it. I doubt it. The reason is he’s in a boot. If he were actually to jog out there, he could do more damage than good. So, we’re probably not going to do that.”
Holding in place of Butler would be the team’s new punter, Ryan Quigley. And snapping to him will be Aaron Brewer, who was signed to replace the released Kameron Canaday.
Arians said he’s confident Quigley could handle the role as in practice Wednesday he performed well through a good breeze.
Catanzaro, who confirmed his coach’s account by saying he went 8-for-8 in practice, said the new guys performed well Wednesday.
But, there are things to work through.
“Just the tempo, getting used to their tempo and how they do it,” he said. “We’re trying to just kind of get them kind of on the same page as far as the cadence goes for field goal for us.”
Generally teams do not like messing with their specialists during the season, as chemistry is seen as a very important part of the process. The Cardinals, however, had no choice but to add a new punter/holder, and after a couple of rough outings, decided Canaday could not longer be an option, either.
It’s a considerable change heading into Week 4, but one Catanzaro will have to deal with.
“It’s a little bit different, a little different look, but when it comes down to it, I shared with Ryan how I like the ball leaned, how I liked it set up, and he did a good job of that today; and Brewer snapped well,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to working with these guys, and I’m just looking forward to controlling what I can control and trying to just make kicks. Just trying to give myself the best chance to make kicks for the team.”
Speaking of Canaday
When an offseason battle between Canaday and Daniel Dillon was decided, the hope was that the winner would keep that job for a long time.
In the NFL, capable long snappers tend to stick around for a while, and Canaday could have been beginning what would turn out to be a nice career.
Less than a month after he earned the job, however, Canaday is without a job, as the Cardinals felt a need to make a change after bad snaps against the New England Patriots in Week 1 and against the Bills in Week 3 cost the team dearly.
On Brewer, who is replacing Canaday, Arians said the veteran has got a lot of tape and has proven to be consistent.
The 26-year-old spent the last four seasons with the Denver Broncos, and comes to Arizona with more than 60 games under his belt. That experience, Arians said, is key to helping at the position.
“It’s all about nerves,” he said. “When you talk about guys, I always use a putter (as an example). The guys on tour early, they can’t make it because of the nerves on their putter. They’ve got all the talent in the world, but the nerves have to be controlled. I want Kam back because the kid’s got a lot of talent. Once he gets his nerves under control, and it’s just like young guys on tour putting.”
Canaday’s nerves may have cost him a job, but you would think now Arians will be more at ease with a veteran snapping the ball.
“They were at ease before,” he said. “It was just a matter of watching a guy do it every day and then just not handling it on game day. But yeah, this guy’s done it, so it’s easier.”