The Cardinals had built a 31-7 halftime lead over the 49ers, but Bruce Arians was blunt with his team, and was willing to share his message to the broadcast reporters who checked in with him at halftime.
“If you relax, I’ll be looking for new players,” Arians told his players. “Keep your foot on their throat.”
It’s a message that often has to be repeated in games that have gone extremely well in the first half. That’s not necessarily unique to Arians. But it underscores the Arians mentality — and underscores why, in the last two weeks as the Cardinals have easily put away both the Bears and 49ers, starting quarterback Carson Palmer has played all but three snaps.
There is concern — and it’s fair — from the outside wondering if Palmer, so valuable to this team’s chances, should be coming out when the Cardinals have the game in hand. Part of the issue is that Arians, not unlike many coaches, has a different perspective of when a game is in hand.
“That’s the way I coach, the game is never over until it’s over,” Arians said after the Bears game.
The last time the Cardinals played in Chicago in 2009, they also built a big lead and then-coach Ken Whisenhunt decided to put in backup quarterback Matt Leinart. Leinart threw an interception and Whisenhunt actually put Kurt Warner back in after just one series, with the Bears cutting the lead to 13.
Against the 49ers, Palmer’s last drive was conservative in terms of Palmer’s exposure. On a 13-play touchdown drive — which consumed a big part of the final 15 minutes — the Cards ran it 10 times. The only pass play that wasn’t a quick throw was Palmer’s pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham at the outset of the drive. If the Cardinals do manage to get a big lead against the Rams Sunday (and most of the time, this will be moot because usually games are close week to week), perhaps Palmer comes out. But maybe he doesn’t, with Arians choosing to not let up at all. He doesn’t want his player relaxing, and I’m guessing Arians doesn’t think he should relax either.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer
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