ARIZONA CARDINALS

All-Access with Bruce Arians: Finding Carson Palmer’s heir an offseason objective

Jan 2, 2017, 5:10 PM
Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians yells at side judge Scott Novak (1) during the second hal...

Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians yells at side judge Scott Novak (1) during the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

TEMPE — Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians meets the media the day after every game. This week, after a 44-6 season finale againts the Los Angeles Rams, he met with the media as the team cleaned out the locker room.

Here in this space, with help from the Cardinals’ media relations staff, we’ll highlight some of the most notable quotes from his session.

He began with an opening statement.

“This is always a tough day, because when it comes to an end it comes to an end, and when you’re not putting a ring on your finger, saying goodbye to some players is hard. Obviously you never have the same team back. This team was extremely fun to coach because they came to work every day and I never questioned their effort and intensity in which they practiced and prepared. We just didn’t play well enough in five ball games, the last five minutes in those games, and that stopped us in playing in the rest of this tournament. We will go back and research why we didn’t play well in those five minutes that cost us games that took us out of the playoffs. That will be the research we do as a coaching staff – if we asked them to do things that they couldn’t do too much, why we weren’t successful, because we had been successful in those scenarios for two to three years. Was it the personnel? Was it scheme? What it all was and we will evaluate every single situation and try to improve it. I have all the faith in the world in Steve Keim that we will have a heck of a roster. We will start building all of that soon. Re-signing guys, hopefully re-signing guys that we want back under contract and we will move on. Great news on David Johnson – no surgery. There is no tendon damage, just a MCL sprain. Very similar to Tony Jefferson, 6-8 weeks just rest and rehab but no surgery. That’s great news.”

On if he feels the team core is still intact:

“There is no doubt. Some of that depends on retirement. We’ll get those questions answered in the near future. I think the core is here and there is no doubt that we had high expectations coming into this year with the roster we had. Those expectations will never change. We’ll set our goal to win a championship next year like we always do.”

On if he treats this season like an anomaly:

“Yeah because the games we lost were the games we always won. Win them at the end, win close games. I think we did it better than anybody in the league over the last couple of years, and this year we didn’t. Whether it was make a completion, make a kick, get off the field defensively, whatever it was in those games, those one-score games that we lost.”

On if it is perplexing because he can’t put a finger on what happened:

“If you can put a finger on an individual, you replace him. If you can put a finger on something, you fix it right away. But this was different scenarios each week and that’s why this will be fun as a coaching staff to go back and review it all. Hopefully it’s things that we can correct.”

On if he will play a role in Larry Fitzgerald’s decision:

“I’m not in it. That’s a strictly personal thing for Larry to decide. Does he want to continue to be the warrior that he is, how his body feels, does he want to continue to train and do all of those things to come back and try to get that championship? Obviously I have my fingers crossed that he does, but there’s nothing I can do to be a part of that decision.”

On what his gut tells him about that decision:

“I have never been in this situation so I really don’t have a gut feeling about it.”

On reports saying he has health issues:

“My shoulder that Larry (Fitzgerald) screwed up. I just got it injected and will see if I have surgery on it.”

On if Fitzgerald will pay for his surgery:

“Oh, he’s going to pay. If I have to have surgery, he’s going to pay.”

On reports of the Jaguars wanting to interview Harold Goodwin for the head coach position and if there are any other teams:

“Buffalo and Los Angeles. We wish him well.”

On if this season is frustrating because so many things went right, like the pass rush:

“That’s the frustrating part, we set some things out like the pass rush and we fixed it. Steve (Keim) did a great job of getting Chandler (Jones), and Markus (Golden) improved, so that’s the frustrating part not to win those five close ball games.”

On how he would describe David Johnson’s season:

“It’s rare. What he did – it was a shame because you knew he was going to get his 100 easily. But you knew that an injury was probably going to stop the streak, and just very happy that it’s not a serious one.”

On what David Johnson’s upside is from here:

“Sky is the limit. I mean, 200-yard games every week. I’m serious. He’s capable.”

On what it means to him to see this team respond in the final two games:

“It told me that we have the core values in our locker room that it takes to succeed and go forward. A lot of teams you saw the last two weeks, they’re already making vacation plans. These guys, they want to go back to work. It’s a shame that it came down to that, but we’re really proud of the way that, especially guys that stepped up. Sio Moore came here three weeks ago and he had 13 tackles against Seattle. Those guys that stepped in, Harlan Miller, all the young kids, (Evan) Boehm, stepped up and played winning football against two division teams that were pretty solid.”

On what bothered him most about the underachievement this year:

“The fact that we didn’t overcome the injuries that we should have, and that we have in the past. Next man up didn’t necessarily do his job good enough the first week.”

On if he anticipates changes in his coaching staff aside from head coaching opportunities:

“We will have everybody back. They are the same coaching staff that won all of those games. I’m just hoping that Goody (Harold Goodwin) gets a job, but I’m not anticipating any changes.”

On if there is a priority when it comes to resigning free agents like Chandler Jones, Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson:

“We’ll just wait and see. Hopefully we get them all back. The dollars will have to add up with the cap. That’s Steve (Keim) and Mike’s (Disner) job, and they do a great job with it. So we’ve already prioritized our list and we will try to get as many of those guys as possible.”

On if Harold Goodwin does get a job who takes over that role:

“We’ll wait and see.”

On Calais Campbell’s season:

“I thought it was very solid, one of his better ones, especially the last half of the season. I thought he really benefited from Chandler (Jones) and Markus (Golden).”

On Chandler Jones, Markus Golden and the pass rush:

“That’s exactly what we set out to do was create a pass rush from the edge. Chandler’s not going anywhere because if we have to, we will franchise him. Hopefully we will get it all done and be able to move on.”

On if he feels an obligation to find Carson Palmer’s heir:

“I hope to. That will be one of our main objectives in the offseason is to make sure the franchise isn’t in the situation it was after Kurt (Warner), that the next guy is here and ready to roll.”

On what he thinks of this year’s crop of quarterbacks:

“Really haven’t studied them at all; just talked to Steve (Keim) on the plane about who the scouts have ranked and start watching them in a couple weeks. I’ll go down to the Senior Bowl and start looking at all of them.”

On if he feels good about their depth at corner:

“Marcus (Cooper) should’ve had another interception yesterday. He got Pro Bowl nominations so that’s pretty damn good. I don’t know if you can get better unless you’re a starter in the Pro Bowl. Brandon (Williams) is going to be a hell of a player. I think we have more than enough guys back there.”

On if Justin Bethel can be in the mix as well:

“I think Justin found his spot inside. He played really well in the nickel and we’ll have to see if we can create a nickel or dime situation. He’s done it in the past when Tyrann Mathieu is the nickel and he’s had tight ends or somebody else.”

On if they need to improve the interior offensive line:

“No, I think through all the injuries we’ve developed some pretty good depth. These guys that have played the last few weeks, I’ve been very pleased with.”

On the close games they lost and if that had anything to do with overconfidence or not turning the page on last year:

“I think a lot of it goes back to the New England game. Had we won the game like we should have, with the field goal, I think the whole season is different. Why we didn’t finish the Ram win? The first two losses at home set us way back for the season, because you had to fight from the back end of the hole the rest of the way. To have the lead and fumble the ball going in for the clincher, and then not stopping them – those two five-minute scenarios; we did a great job in the two-minute drill against New England’s defense to put us in the situation to win the game like we had in years past. We didn’t win it. That set a little bit of ‘are we good enough?’ Then the Ram loss, I think maybe everybody started pressing a little bit more. Those will be the critical areas of games lost. The Miami one, that was different because of the rain and everything else, but that was another game that we should have won.”

On if anybody needs offseason surgery:

“I haven’t gotten a doctor’s report. They’re still checking out with the doctors right now.”

On Chandler Catanzaro going forward:

“We’ll wait and see. Again, a lot of it’s going to be contractual. I forget what his tender would be. That’s all up to Steve. He’s a very talented young guy. Whether he’s here or not, we’ll see.”

On his consistency being something Catanzaro can improve:

“You would think so. When looking at kickers, the great ones I’ve been around, Nick Lowery and Phil Dawson, all those guys, they had really struggled early. Most kickers do, but then they hit a spell where it’s automatic.”

On what goes into the decision at left tackle next year:

“We’re very fortunate. We have two. It’s just who plays left and who plays right. We’ll make those decisions later. Watching Jared (Veldheer) rehab and see where he’s at rehab-wise, but we’re very fortunate we have two of them.”

On if A.Q. Shipley showed enough to be the center going forward:

“Oh, yeah. I would love to have A.Q. back because he brings that mental toughness and physicality that you want. He comes back, he’s going to fight with Evan (Boehm), and Evan could be our starting right guard. We’ll wait and see how that all plays out.”

On if he feels the personnel is there and he’s not worried about needing an infusion of talent:

“Talent’s not the issue. Keeping them all healthy, that’s a different story. Losing Evan Mathis hurt, because we weren’t quite ready. Then losing Jared, those two were huge hits offensively. John Brown’s illness was a huge hit; J.J.’s (Nelson) broken thumb, because we lost so much speed early in the season. John’s illness hadn’t shown itself on what it was, but you knew there was some problem because he didn’t have the gear when the ball was in the air that he’s always had.”

On if John Brown is still exploring how to handle his illness this offseason:

“Yeah, to find that gear. He’s had a couple balls thrown deep that he’s always had that catch-up speed to go get it. That’s not there right now.”

On his feelings on the WR position:

“They played extremely well down the stretch. Jeremy Ross comes in and does a hell of a job. That’s the one position to me that is very easy to fix. Now, is there a Fitz laying out there? No, but there are some very capable guys that could come fit in our offense.”

On Clemson WR Mike Williams being a possible fit:

“Well, you’re going to take a high draft choice; I don’t think it’s going to be a wideout.”

On his health:

“Probably as healthy as I’ve been. Hopefully I don’t get sick. I’ve been doing a lot of work with a couple different doctors and it seems to be working. I’m going to be really pissed if I can’t play golf, and my wife will be too, because I’ll drive her nuts.

On if there is concern about Tyrann Mathieu’s injury issues:

“No. The second ACL was a freaky one, because he had that year to train. I expect, and he’s already started training like a wild man, that he’ll come back to that form. Freak injuries are freak injuries. Both his ACLs – one was contact, the other was non-contact. The rest of it, he knows how to take care of himself.”

On Mathieu’s shoulder injury:

“Just one of those things.”

On if D.J. Humphries projects as a left tackle long-term:

“He can be, yes. Whether he is, we’ll wait and see, but he can be for sure.”

On how he feels about their offensive line depth going forward given all the reconfigurations this season:

“That’s the nice thing. We found some guys that we think can play. Actually, the last drive we had Cole Toner and Givens Price out there on the left side. I’m really excited about both those young guys. A nice camp, for those 7, 8, 9 spots, it will be great competition – (John) Wetzel proving he can be a solid contributor, Boehm did a good job at guard. The pieces are in there. It will just be great competition, because the core guys are there.”

On if Deone Bucannon could move back to safety:

“No, Buc’s got his spot. He’s a very unique player. Very few guys can do what he does. We can always play him at safety in a role, but to take him out of being the disruptor he is up front, I don’t think would be good for us.”

On if Bucannon was battling injury most of the season:

“Yeah, that ankle – that’s why we didn’t know if he’d have to have surgery, because it was chronic. But, now it looks like it’s healing itself better.”

On how he would feel about using the franchise tag:

“In a heartbeat on the right guy. Number 55. Not to mention any names.”

On their draft class this season:

“I think they all are going to be fine. Robert (Nkemdiche), that ankle has bothered him all year. He fought through it, and then again he re-injured it the other day. It looks like it will heal itself in time, but I think he’s going to be a heck of a player. Brandon (Williams) is going to be a heck of a player. Our number two choice is really good – 55. Evan (Boehm), the whole class, Harlan (Miller), he found a spot. That was a great play he made coming out of the middle to read that halfback pass.”

On if Miller could move to safety:

“Now he’s got good position flexibility, so that bodes well for his future.”

On if Nkemdiche’s season was disappointing:

“No, because it was going to be hard for him anyway. Unless there was a major injury to Frostee (Rucker), Calais (Campbell) or Corey (Peters), he was going to be a role player. I think his time will come quickly. Everybody expects these guys to be world beaters because they’re number one draft picks. It ain’t the same anymore.”

On Rodney Gunter:

“Rodney had a great game in Seattle. He’s been a physical presence all year. His snaps, 16-20 a game, easily will go to 40 and you’re not going to miss anything.”

On Markus Golden and what he’s evolved into:

“Exactly what we thought. We drafted him because of his motor, his energy. That’s the type of guys we want in our locker room. It doesn’t surprise me at all.”

On the untapped talent they have in Elijhaa Penny:

“That’s another one I can’t wait to see, because he became a pretty good special teams player and could fill a role as a big back. He’s got good hands. He’s done a great job on our scout team all year, so he’s got a real good future.”

On the priority of finding someone for the cornerback spot opposite Patrick Peterson:

“The guys we have – Coop (Marcus Cooper) is great. I think Coop’s a hell of a player. I think Brandon’s going to be. Those guys will fight it out if we get Coop signed.”

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