Getting off to a faster start

Posted by Darren Urban on October 24, 2013 – 9:51 am

Bruce Arians said he has been stressing the need to start faster as a team. It sounds simple and obvious. In truth, it has been anything but. Arians said it was the whole team that needed a reminder, although the defense — save the most recent outing against Seattle — has been just fine early. The offense is a different story.

“We’ve had very good Friday practices, crisp walkthroughs,” Arians said. “It’s that time from 11 Saturday morning to kickoff. Whatever (the players) are doing, change it. Try something new, and see if we can’t come out of the gates a little faster.”

Not that Arians needs empirical evidence, but in the four games since New Orleans — when the Cardinals took the opening kickoff and drove down for a touchdown on the first possession — the first quarter offense has been lacking. The Cardinals have had 13 total possessions in those four games and have scored just seven points — the 75-yard catch-and-run by Larry Fitzgerald in San Francisco. In those 13 possessions, the Cards have totaled only 10 first downs.

Quarterback Carson Palmer said the unit needs to do a better job of knowing and understanding the plays coming up at the start, because it’s planned out ahead of time.

“We script pretty well the beginning of games and just not having any mental errors on those 15, 20, 30 plays and just executing those plays (is important),” Palmer said. “Not having one little mental error here or one little blunder there, being efficient on those first plays of the game.”

Trying to find what they had in New Orleans (at least to open the game) is crucial, if for no other reason than to stave off snowballing problems of playing from behind. It leaves the defense with little or no room for error. While giving up touchdowns to the Seahawks on the first two drives of the game isn’t going to work either, it has been rare of late that the defense gets a chance to actually play with a lead early in games.



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29 Responses to “Getting off to a faster start”

  1. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    The mental errors at start, even after scripted and studied, is an indictment of our offensive players for lack of preparation and mental focus . Coach needs to kick some -ss.

  2. By Hammy on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    Getting off to a faster start is great and just what we need. unfortunately we dont have a quarterback that is capable of making quick sound decisions out there on the great lawn! Look, if you know your protection is not gonna allow you more than 3 seconds to throw the ball, make it in 2. Other quarterbacks around the league can make every throw in the book with bad protection. Why Palmer cant do that will probably never be known. I really liked the signing just like every other Cards fan, but I probably put too much faith in him. At least I know Larry was excited. I wonder how he feels now. It would not surprise me if he ask for a trade this offseason depending on IF this team makes the playoffs or finishes with a wining record. Go Cardinals!

  3. By jstn on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    larry making plenty mistakes just the same, stop pointing fingers just at Palmer and get behind your QB, fans need to be inspirring not deflating the team.

  4. By hummer53 on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    Since this is the hot topic. I’m in favor of riding CP3 for the next 3 games no matter what. We need to go at least 2-1 in those games. At 5-5 we would still be in hunt down the stretch barely. Of course 3-0 would be so much better. We go 1-2 or 0-3 then it would be time to see what Drew brings to the table. We would need to see what our plans for next season would be at that point. Hate to say this but the Atlanta game should be treated as a playoff game for the whole building. Would be so hard to climb out of a 3-5 record. Possible but 6-2 in the second half would be very difficult indeed.

  5. By Coach K on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    I think what we have is a combination of false expectation and refusal to adapt. I too was positive on the signing of Palmer. I always felt he could spin the ball. But I am constantly concerned about our inability to adapt to the reality of our current situation.

    I hate to beat a dead horse on this subject, but we continue to believe we can pound a square block into a round hole. As Hammy mentioned above, our offensive line is unable to give the typical 4+ second pocket Carson needs to play his game of drop-set-throw from a spot.

    Defenses know our quarterback in one dimensional. They also know our line has been unsuccessful at providing the protection Carson needs to do what he does best in a classic drop back pocket.

    So what are the options? (1) Speed up the throws to 2 and 3 step shorter passes only, or (2) Stay the course and continue to deal with sacks and interceptions hoping the line can improve, or (3) Use a more mobile quarterback like Stanton who can escape a pass rush and give you the run-pass option when the O-line breaks down.

    As I see it, Arian’s will not accept option 1. He likes to take shots down the field. He could remain stubborn and stick with option 2 hoping the offensive line can dramatically improve their protection. If this happens in the Atlanta game and Carson plays well with protection, then great.

    But what if the very average Atlanta defense is able to stop the Cardinals offense yet again with sacks and interceptions. Then what?

    Will Arian’s finally admit that option #3 gives his team the best opportunity to win if options 1 and 2 fail?

    That’s a BIG IF

  6. By azqfan on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    Hammy, please listen to what Arians says about the slow starts and most of Palmer’s INT’s. The receivers (Fitz included) and TE’s have been in the wrong place, turned the wrong way etc… If Palmer does what YOU want and throw the ball in 2 seconds, not 3, he will be throwing BEFORE the receivers ever make their cut. If they are still in the wrong place, more pics will come. If Larry wants a trade, fine, good luck. His production last 2 years has been TERRIBLE. Blame the QB’s all you want but he has a lot to do with it as well. The first INT against Seattle was as much Larry’s fault as it was Palmer’s. Arians himself even said Larry ran the wrong route. Of course if he had done what he USED TO, jump up high point the ball, and beat the defender to it, it would have been fine. His Salary, and lack of production will stop any team from trading for him for anything less than a 4th or 5th rd pick.

  7. By Kevin S on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    This is a watershed game, if we lose I say start Stanton after this for the remainder of the season. It is a home game and Atlanta is 2-4 there are just no excuses. Stanton was hyped by Arians let’s see what he’s got.

  8. By Hammy on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    jstn SERIOUSLY???? Get behind your team? I think I speak for all the Loooong suffering Arizona Cardinals fans out there when I say we have been the most patient and loyal fans in the entire league, keep in mind we have sold out the past 60- 70 something games. We are all realist and If a player is playing horrible, we let it be known. What kind of fans you know that have dealt with loosing year in and year out and still support that team? We have had mediocre Quarterback play since Warners retirement and we deserve and have every right to criticize Palmer and his horrifick QB play! Go Cardinals!

  9. By Jim E. on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    Hahaha faster start. Yea and we need to have world peace and end hunger. None of that is going to happen so why even bring it up?

  10. By Hammy on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    azqfan You know I hate to say this but you are right to a certain extent. But really how do we know what Palmer is seeing down field? He is constantly being defended by Bruce, saying that it is not his fault. He needs to step up his play just as equally if not more than everyone else. You are right again Larry’s production has been TERRIBLE but only because of the garbage quarterback play and OLine. If we knew for so long that the line was horrible, why have we yet to bring in a mobile quarterback????? I know people are sick of hearing this name but Vince Young is still available and is still mobile and still not even 30 years old. That is why SF and SEA are playing lights out because they have a quarterback that can make good reads, scramble out of the pocket, and MAKE A PLAY! Our defense is as good as thiers but we lack the big play from the QB position. I am confident that Keim and co. will bring in a dual threat quarterback in next years draft or at least one that can make a play!

  11. By joe67 on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    Maybe our guys just aren’t metally equipped to script 15, 20, 30 plays. Maybe try 5, 10. I’m just sayin’

  12. By joe67 on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    Everyone seems to be on Carson alot. I know he has had some issues, but he was with a team last year that wasn’t very good, and not as many weapons but had a pretty solid year. (4008 yds) Either our team is a lot worse than we think (offense) or there is something real wrong with the system we are using. At least that is the way it seems.
    Being patient, I still believe………..

  13. By infitzwetrust on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    I hope Palmer throws for 300 yards and 3tds, two of which caught by fitz, to shut everyone up for at least a week.

  14. By georgiebird on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    Cards have four conference losses already. Let’s say we end up with seven conference losses and go 5-7 in Conference. In order to get the 2nd wildcard we have to finish with the best record of all the remaining Conference teams because any tie breaker will be a loser. It’s not going to happen.
    If players can’t be traded because of cap problems, then this is going to be a very long struggle and there is no light at the end of the tunnel- as a matter of fact we haven’t even approached the tunnel, yet.
    Hate to be negative but I misplaced my rose colored glasses in the late 1970s.

  15. By Bay Area Bad Boy on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    Didn’t we already have this same read a few weeks ago ? “Infitzwetrust” quit dreaming. I hope the same thing. Calmer to Fitz sound great, But we’ve been here before. It’s like a broken record already. The team has to produce. That’s the bottom line. BA will get us there. Lets just get a win and get back to .500 Different week. Same topic. How about next week, we talk about how we won the Atlanta game.

  16. By Bay Area Bad Boy on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    Yes, I refuse to call Parson Calmer by his real name until he stops throwing interception after interception after interception.

  17. By Timmy on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    I still believe this team is a good one. Switch us with the Chiefs and I guarantee we would be 7-0 and be all the talk of the analysts. Sadly we are a good team in a great division with one of the toughest schedules in the league. While wins and losses are all that matters and ultimately what defines you, I think to many people forget to look at who the wins and losses are against. Even the mighty Broncos lost as soon as they played a good team. If we were in the NFC East or AFC North we would be in the playoffs for sure. I don’t think blowing this team up is the answer. Unfortunately all we can do is be patient and support the team. Love the passion of Cards fans and the desire to win just wish we were a little more patient. I had season tickets in 2008, and I hated the morons that would sit behind me and demand Leinhart because Warner threw one bad pass or an interception. There is a reason we are fans and not in the front office, BECAUSE WE WOULD SUCK AT RUNNING A TEAM. Quit pretending to be a coach or GM and just enjoy the game.

  18. By Madriffs on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    At this point, I honestly don’t see any reason to keep Fitz. He is a tremendous athlete and all respect to him and his game play. He is at a point in his career where he will be more beneficial for a contending team. I would hate to see him go and more than likely it will deflate the fan base but you cannot ride on one super talent on Offense with all the others being mediocre at best. Make cap space and get some young up and coming talent so that at least the Cards have a shot with BA as the coach. Otherwise Fitz will just finish his career with only one Super Bowl appearance and a ton of missed opportunities. I think the Defense is already coming together and will be one of the top really soon.

  19. By Michael on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    It’s time to see Ryan Williams. I still can’t believe he has not been active all year. Darren, is he 100%?

  20. By Darren Urban on Oct 25, 2013 | Reply

    Michael —

    RE: Williams

    Williams is healthy. Has been.

  21. By clssylssy on Oct 24, 2013 | Reply

    @Timmy…Switch us with the Chiefs and we would be 7-0 and the talk of the analysts? WT??? You make no sense! You do know that we had a shot at getting Andy Reid for a HC? The Chiefs have had their share of ups and downs and, I think, won 2 games last year and the AFC West is even tougher than the NFC West with the Chiefs, Broncos, Chargers, Raiders(every division has their perienniel bottom dweller)??? I don’t get your point because it sounds like you are saying that the reason we’re not winning is because we are in a tough division! Newsflash! We’re losing because our offense can’t score touchdowns and being in a different division won’t make us better. Historically, the Cardinals have always played up to their competition, the tougher the competitor the more effort, passion and desire to rise above emerged EXCEPT when the team was decimated with injuries and was down to replacements from the practice squad having to play against healthier starters. I too remember Warner being booed and the fans wanting Leinert but, that is kinda the way life is here in Cardinal land; the fans never approve of the QB…gotta have something to whine about here in Darren’s blog!

  22. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 25, 2013 | Reply

    Georgiebird —

    I agree that the playoffs are a reach for this team, and there’s no reason to begin talking about it too seriously.

    That said, your point about the conference records is a little off as far as playoff implications. Assuming (based on current records) that the division winners are DAL, GB, NO and SEA, and that as you predict (probably correctly) SF gets one wildcard, who gets the open spot? The current contenders at 4-3 are DET, CAR and CHI. The Bears are without Cutler for a few weeks and we beat both DET and CAR so we own the tiebreakers there. Of the below-.500 teams, I’d say PHI and ATL are the only realistic contenders and we play them both as well so we have a chance to control those tiebreakers. Detroit has probably the easiest road from here in terms of schedule, but we’ve seen them underperform before (witness last year’s 4-12 when they were projected as a playoff team), so who knows? Cardinals need to string together some wins and probably get a little help, but the playoffs are not implausible, and as we will have a head-to-head game against nearly every likely contender for the 2nd wildcard, the conference record isn’t likely to be the main issue.

  23. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 25, 2013 | Reply

    This is where we need to win 3 in a row. The Cards are not getting any respect at 3-4 — nearly every “power ranking” shows them as the worst team with 3 wins (or some now show the Rams as worse only because Bradford is out). A lot of the national media don’t realize that in spite of the final score, we were pretty close to beating SF on the road (done in by turnovers), nor do they realize how tough our schedule has been. We’ve been beaten by a 6-1 team, a 5-1 team, and a 5-2 team… only one loss to a team that won’t make the playoffs (an away game at STL). On the flip side, we’ve beaten two teams that are 4-3 and are probably at this point the two biggest favorites for the final playoff spot in the NFC — one of them (the Panthers) is a team that, despite being spanked by us, has the 2nd-highest net point differential in the conference behind STL. Now granted, we also barely beat Tampa, but we did pull that one out as we needed to, on the road. We need to win these next three winnable games. 100% guaranteed that if that happens, every power ranking will have us as the lowest-rated team with 6 wins, but it will be a start toward getting some respect.

  24. By HunterSThompson on Oct 25, 2013 | Reply

    Kevin S – Great points about playoff positioning – I was going to respond similarly.

    The Cards have some playoff possibilities remaining and I for one feel that Carson Palmer should be given the next 3 games to take advantage. Where the Cardinals stand after that will either inspire hope for the final push of 6 games against key opponents or create doubt and despair.

    Before the SF game I sincerely thought Palmer would put it together for that key game and get the win….leading them to beat Seattle at home. His performance in those games continues to frustrate, and leaves me baffled as to how the next three will turn out.

    I’m out of the prediction business with this offense as it exists, but am very interested to see how things turn out over the next month. A wild ride, indeed!

  25. By Coach K on Oct 25, 2013 | Reply

    After this Atlanta game, you will know better if the problem is with Palmer, the receivers, or the line. I will be watching every play on offensive and breaking it down. If our line steps up and gives Palmer a clean pocket, and he still throws two picks, then it’s down to Palmer vs. his receivers. Film study will hopefully answer the question.

  26. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 25, 2013 | Reply

    HunterSThompson —

    Talking about the playoffs is always fun. I remember two years ago after the horrible start, we started winning a few… we had won four of five, and were at 5-7 and this blog was full of people (me included) talking about how we had a shot at a WC at 9-7 if we won out and got some help. The bubble was burst with the CIN loss (and it turned out both ATL and DET ended up 10-6 anyway so 9-7 wouldn’t have gotten it done), but it was exciting talking about playoffs in a year where we started out 1-6.

  27. By Timmy on Oct 25, 2013 | Reply

    I’m saying that the Chiefs have not yet played a quality opponent. I’m pretty certain none of them have a winning record. Give us that schedule and we would definitely have more wins.

  28. By Timmy on Oct 25, 2013 | Reply

    Clssylssy you seriously think the AFC West is a tougher division than the NFC West. What are you smoking?

  29. By Timmy on Oct 25, 2013 | Reply

    Clssy. Sorry I wasn’t clearer with my point. You’re right it didn’t quite come out correctly. I’m saying put the Cards in the AFC West and the Chiefs in the NFC West, and the Chiefs would not currently be ranked the top team in the NFL by The only reason they are is because they have a very soft schedule this year the whole AFC West does. Where as the NFC West has one of the hardest schedules this year. And with the Cards current coaching staff and players if we had that schedule we would have very similar results to what the Chiefs are currently enjoying. I agree with everyone though that at times watching this offense is worse than stabbing yourself in the eye. I’m just saying I think the problems are exaggerated because of the difficulty of our schedule this year. And to expect a playoff bound team with this schedule and the fact that the system is so new is unrealistic.

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