It’s early — May 21 is far, far away from any game that counts — and the Cardinals still have six OTAs and a full minicamp left just in the offseason, not to mention training camp. But coach Bruce Arians clearly was frustrated with his offense after Tuesday’s work. For an offensive coach, it probably isn’t surprising.
“I couldn’t ask for any more effort,” Arians said. “It’s just that right now, our defense is way outplaying our offense. The offense needs to pick it up. We are behind where I’d like to be right now.”
Arians said he can’t really judge the offensive linemen. But that will come. The skill position players, though, need to get better, Arians said.
“We’re just not picking it up fast enough, not picking it up the way I want to at all positions,” Arians said. “Normally for the defense it’s a little easier, to put in a defense than it is an offense and have some continuity.
“I don’t like mistakes and I really don’t like mental mistakes. Especially if you made the same one last week. Correct it and have it in the books right now. The receivers are not getting that done.”
Arians wasn’t the only one noticing the offensive struggles. Quarterback Carson Palmer agreed with Arians’ assessment.
“It’s kind of how it happens,” Palmer said. “But that’s the competitor in him. He and I are both (ticked) off about it. I’m (ticked) off about it too. That’s the competitive side. You want to win everything. Every third-and-8 you practice, and we had 12 of them today, you want to go 12-for-12 and that may not be a realistic situation but it is what it is. Throughout my career I have seen it, in OTAs, near the end, (the offense) starts to catch up and trade blow-for-blow. It’s still not acceptable (now.)”
– At the outset of the OTA, the Cardinals held a moment of silence/prayer for the victims of the Oklahoma tornadoes.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer
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It’s been clear from the day the Cardinals acquired Carson Palmer that Bruce Arians was high on his abilities — I mean, why wouldn’t he be? — but that was reiterated during an ESPN interview this weekend when Arians was talking about his veteran QB.
“What he did last year with the Raiders, in a crazy situation, I thought was very, very impressive,” Arians said.
Let’s recap what Palmer did: In 15 games, he threw for 4,018 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and completed 61 percent of his passes. The Raiders still went 4-12. There is a lot that goes into all that. Those statistics may not have come in a lot of victories, but they still are impressive — especially the TD-to-INT ratio for a player who was forced to throw a lot because the team was behind. His top wide receiver was Denairus Moore (don’t feel bad if you have not heard of him.) The top pass catcher was tight end Brandon Myers, who had 79 catches for 806 yards. The first thought when you look at his receiving corps is that it was impressive to reach 4,000 yards without a top go-to type of threat.
Does Palmer have better receivers in Arizona? Certainly. Larry Fitzgerald alone changes the equation, Andre Roberts was pretty good last year and as I have noted before, it looks like Michael Floyd has made a big leap — at least at this point in the offseason — from Year One to Year Two. The Cards have to show they have a decent tight end threat (this is a crucial year for Rob Housler; if he can’t break out now with this QB and this offensive scheme, he may never) but Palmer will help.
What does that mean for Palmer himself? Well, he’s playing in a much more difficult division than last season. He’ll have to up his game to match his numbers. But if he stays healthy — and assuming the offensive line makes strides forward, as everyone is expecting right now — that can happen. Regardless, look at the numbers last year from the Cards’ QBs, which were ugly to say the least: 3,383 yards, 11 TDs, 21 INT, 55 percent completions. It figures to be much, much better. That alone I’d think would give fans a certain modicum of relief.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Raiders, Rob Housler
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It was Bruce Arians’ introductory press conference when he first talked about his offense and how he wants to take shots down the field. That’s how he rolled in Pittsburgh, how the Colts played last year and how the Cards will do it now, because as Arians sees it, yards in big chunks helps a lot. Certainly, it’s something the Cards could use more of after 2012. It’s a big reason the club picked Texas A&M wide receiver Ryan Swope, because he showed off some big-time speed at the Scouting combine, running a sub-4.4 40.
(Although the scouting reports wonder if Swope’s 40 times can translate on the field or if he is better suited for a quick slot game. Swope, speaking after he was picked, about being a deep threat: “I see that instantly.” He also said his speed is real: “A lot of people had me as just a possession receiver coming in.”)
If Swope can help stretch the field, that would be a big deal. But the Cardinals have gotten deep prior to last season with their other wideouts. Don’t forget Larry Fitzgerald had a sparkling and career-best 17.6 yards per catch in 2011, when John Skelton/Kevin Kolb weren’t as errant getting him the ball as last season. Fitz’s YPC got crushed in part last year because it seemed the team worked so hard to get him the ball on short stuff just so it’d be complete that he didn’t gain many yards. The longest pass play of the season was a 53-yarder to Michael Floyd in the finale, and that featured a lackluster tackling effort made (as you can see on the video below.) The Cards only had nine pass plays of at least 30 yards last season.
Floyd led the team with 12.5 yards a catch, and that was boosted from 10.7 only after his eight-catches-for-166-yards in the last game of the season. Fitz, in what was his most frustrating season as a pro, was at 11.2 (71 catches for 798 yards, ugh) and Andre Roberts was 11.9 (64 for 759).
There should be more accurate throws downfield from Carson Palmer this season. There should be better protection up front to actually allow the quarterback time to chuck it downfield this season. And there is no question there will be plays called to do it too, whether it’s to Swope, Fitz, Roberts or Floyd. Or someone else. The Cardinals need those kind of big plays.
Tags: Andre Roberts, Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ryan Swope
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It didn’t take long before Bruce Arians made it known he was going to be comfortable playing young players after doing it last season in Indianapolis. Then, as March played out, the Cardinals either didn’t bring back older players who were free agents and released others who were on the wrong side of 30. Now, with the offseason roster nearly set, the numbers emphasize just how much younger General Manager Steve Keim has made his team.
The team’s 53-man roster by the end of last season — and that means younger players were on it in place of IR’d vets like Levi Brown, Kevin Kolb and Lyle Sendlein — had an average age of 29.7 years. The Cardinals’ current extended offseason roster (subtracting the 16 long-shot undrafted rookies who would obviously bring down the average age by their sheer numbers) features an average age of 25.8 years.
The Cards had 12 players 30 and older on their final 53. As of today, they have eight: Carson Palmer (33), Yeremiah Bell (35, pictured below), Daryn Colledge (31), Darnell Dockett (31), Jeff King (30), Jay Feely (36), Mike Leach (36) and Dave Zastudil (34). Take out those three specialists and the Cardinals’ current average age is 25.4.
The age could rise depending on how the roster is shaped going into the season, because of those 30-year-olds, I don’t right now see any of them being let go. But while Keim’s overhaul was in part about clearing salary cap room this offseason, it was also about an infusion of youth after a Ken Whisenhunt era that relied heavily on veterans.
Tags: Bruce Arians, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Dave Zastudil, Jay Feely, Jeff King, Levi Brown, Lyle Sendlein, Mike Leach, Roster, Steve Keim, Yeremiah Bell
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The Cardinals are done with the first day of their three-day voluntary minicamp. The tempo for the almost two-hour work in the afternoon was crisp. Coach Bruce Arians said there were fewer mistakes than might have been anticipated. The only player not there was Larry Fitzgerald, but Arians knew that he wouldn’t be and said Fitz would be back on Wednesday. A couple other tidbits:
– T Levi Brown and LB O’Brien Schofield weren’t taking part as they continue their rehab from 2012 injuries. Arians said there was no reason to push it. Schofield should be back soon. Arians just wants to make sure Brown is available by the Fall. Arians said he might consider putting Nate Potter at guard at some point, but there is plenty of time to figure that out. Arians said a player should be able to play either guard or tackle on the same side.
– QB Carson Palmer said 75 percent of the offense has been introduced to the players, although there is a long way to go to make it work in practice. This is the teaching/learning phase, clearly, although the pace of the workout was noticeably quick.
– With Schofield out (and for all we know, even if Schofield was available) it was free agent linebacker Lorenzo Alexander lining up on the outside with Sam Acho. Daryl Washington and Jasper Brinkley were the inside linebackers. The first string secondary was Jerraud Powers with Patrick Peterson at cornerback and Rashad Johnson and Yeremiah Bell at safety.
– Washington obviously won’t be able to play the first four games because of his suspension. Arians said it was too early to know who will be the starter in Washington’s absence. “We will get Daryl ready to start just like I did with Ben Roethlisberger (before his suspension in 2010) and whoever was taking his place in September was more than ready to,” Arians said.
Tags: Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Rashad Johnson, Ben Roethlisberger, Daryl Washington, O'Brien Schofield, minicamp, Carson Palmer, Patrick Peterson, Bruce Arians, Jerraud Powers, Yeremiah Bell, Jasper Brinkley, Ssam Acho
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Right before Carson Palmer arrived in a recent trade, there were a few stories speculating that Palmer might not want to come to the Cardinals — the team that was the main one linked to Palmer as a destination — because he might want to be a backup for a contender and try and get to a sure winner after all his years in Cincinnati and Oakland. Palmer wasn’t talking before the trade, and after the trade, he proclaimed how much he was excited to be in Arizona.
General Manager Steve Keim got a sense of that immediately, even before the trade was consummated.
Keim relayed this anecdote on the Big Red Rage Thursday night, after he noted that Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie had given the Cards permission to talk to Palmer prior to a trade. The Cardinals flew Palmer in and took him out to dinner, with the next day about taking a physical and some conversation at the team facility.
“Carson calls me at 6:15 in the morning, begging me to pick him up so he can watch tape,” Keim said. “For a 33-year-old quarterback, 10 years in the league, I love that passion.”
A few hours later, Palmer was a Cardinal in a move that — in hindsight — felt inevitable.
Keim watched the last three years of Palmer’s passes in scouting him before the trade. The Raiders were ready to dump Palmer for a song, yet Keim found himself midway through the process, “about 70 throws into it from (the) 2012 (season) and I was shaking my head trying to figure out, ‘What’s wrong with this guy?’ “
Obviously the Cardinals don’t see any issues.
Tags: Big Red Rage, Carson Palmer, Steve Keim
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It was the day Steve Keim was hired as general manager, long before Drew Stanton or Carson Palmer arrived or even before Kevin Kolb and John Skelton were discarded. Keim was talking about philosophies, and how he was going to approach the Cardinals’ search for a quarterback after the drought post-Kurt Warner.
“Particularly, I love the idea of quarterbacks, supply and demand,” Keim said that day. “It’s a tough position to find. (Former NFL GM) Ron Wolf always had that mindset that it’s always good to go out and try to get a quarterback every year. You never know how those guys are going to pan out.”
So, right now, the Cards have Palmer and Stanton and Brian Hoyer and Ryan Lindley. Head Coach Bruce Arians is saying “I think our quarterback room right now is as strong as anybody’s in the National Football League. That’s what we set out to do as an organization, to strengthen that position.” Keim obviously overhauled the spot, and that means … what exactly come the draft?
Even before the Cards got Palmer the vibe was always that the Cards were going to pass on a quarterback in the first round. Arians said none of the QBs out there had made him go “Wow” and that’s what it takes for No. 7. Does it mean the Cards won’t draft one, period? Nope. That’s why the Cards are reportedly checking into Matt Barkely and Geno Smith and Ryan Nassib and all these guys who are going to be available. None of that means the Cardinals will take one of those guys. But they are prepared if they decide to do so.
(On a slightly separate note, all the visits/workouts pre-draft for any team, including the Cardinals, shouldn’t be a big deal. There have been many instances where players have been chosen by teams without knowing ahead of time any interest and at the least, it shows proper due diligence to look at all the top players. Especially for a GM like Keim, who believes deeply in making a difference-maker his first pick, the Cards are going to look at all the main prospects.)
The Cards are thrilled to have Palmer but they know he’s not going to be the answer in a few years. That search for a long-term guy continues.
Because you never know how those guys are going to pan out.
Tags: draft, John Skelton, quarterbacks, Steve Keim, Carson Palmer, Kevin Kolb, Bruce Arians, Ryan Lindley, Brian Hoyer, Drew Stanton
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The Cardinals didn’t have to pay much in trade compensation to acquire quarterback Carson Palmer. The new contract he agreed to doesn’t exactly hurt the Cards either.
Both Brian McIntyre and Aaron Wilson broke out the details of Palmer’s new Cards’ deal, the most important detail being that Palmer’s salary cap number is only $4 million in 2013, lower than originally expected but one that fits into Wednesday night’s news of the Cards having about $8.2 million in cap space remaining even after the Palmer trade. (Since the top 51 offseason rules apply to the cap, I’d guess the signings of Curtis Taylor and Bryan McCann didn’t impact the cap at all.)
Turns out Palmer’s two-year deal is technically a three-year contract, helping the cap distribution. It might as well be a two-year deal though, because the third year voids automatically if Palmer is still on the team five days after the Super Bowl next year and if the team wants to cut him, the third year wouldn’t matter anyway. The magic of contract structures.
Anyway, Palmer’s salary of $2 million is guaranteed this season, and he got a $6 million signing bonus. He has an $8 million salary in 2014, with $2 million guaranteed fully, and a cap number of $10 million in 2014.
And here’s a picture of Palmer and Daryl Washington from this morning’s sprints.
Tags: Bryan McCann, Carson Palmer, Curtis Taylor, Daryl Washington
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The Cardinals have signed a pair of defensive backs: safety Curtis Taylor (who we mentioned was coming last night) and cornerback Bryan McCann. Taylor has played in 12 NFL games since he was a seventh-round pick of the 49ers back in 2009. He hasn’t played in an NFL regular-season game since 2010. He was on the 49ers’ practice squad throughout the 2012 postseason after the Raiders cut him following the 2012 preseason.
McCann played eight games for the Dolphins last season (10 tackles and a sack) after the Raiders cut him following the preseason. He was an undrafted rookie with the Cowboys in 2010, and even scored a pair of touchdowns as a rookie (on a 101-yard interception return and a 97-yard punt return). In 2011, he played in 12 games with the Cowboys, Ravens and Raiders. He can return both punts and kickoffs.
The Cards also announced running back Alfonso Smith signed his one-year exclusive rights free agent tender.
Oh, and here’s a grainy iPhone shot of Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer talking shop this morning during the Cardinals’ workouts. I assume they are talking shop. Maybe Palmer is asking Fitz where to live. Or about the latest episode of “The Walking Dead.” But you get the picture.
Tags: Alfonso Smith, Bryan McCann, Carson Palmer, Curtis Taylor, free agency, Larry Fitzgerald, salary cap
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The NFL Players Association tweeted out a document this afternoon listing every NFL team’s cap space, and, with everything fluid this time of year (cap space changes as soon as players are added or subtracted) the Cardinals have about $8.2 million in salary cap space for their top 51. That’s not a bad situation to be in after trading for Carson Palmer. (UPDATE: There seems to be some question if that is before the Palmer deal factored in.
Obviously if it hasn’t been, that will make a big difference It included Palmer already.)
The Cards did add a small piece today in former 49ers safety Curtis Taylor (the team has yet to officially announce it). I’d expect a few more similar signings over the next couple of weeks as the Cards prep for their first (voluntary) minicamp beginning April 23.
The Cards still only have 57 players after adding Palmer (and before Taylor) and they need to grow that number. There will be seven draft picks and a bunch of undrafted rookies, but again, the Cards eventually want to get to 90 players
– The Bengals claimed quarterback John Skelton, cut by the Cards Monday, off waivers Wednesday. Here’s hoping Skelton catches on as a backup. I still believe he’d already have a win in Cincinnati if Early Doucet hadn’t fallen down.
– I never wrote anything because of when it happened (and in case you were living under a rock) ex-Cards QB Kevin Kolb agreed to a deal with the Bills a few days ago. He has a chance to start there, at least as of right now.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Curtis Taylor, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, NFLPA, Roster, salary cap
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