Arians explains his second-down pass

Posted by Darren Urban on October 27, 2015 – 4:41 pm

The Cardinals punted the ball back to the Ravens with two minutes to go Sunday after the Cards were called for intentional grounding on a second-down pass play. The incomplete pass would’ve stopped the clock anyway, and the decision bought the Ravens precious time. Bruce Arians was asked what led to him throwing as opposed to running on the play.

“We knew they had the timeout at the two-minute warning so we could not kneel,” Arians said. “We had to make another first down and we had a good play-action pass set up on a crack sweep. Larry (Fitzgerald) was wide open but it looked like there was going to be pressure. The offensive line went too far and turned one down lineman loose. That’s really who Carson felt, and like I said, he was going to be real careful with the ball. But that’s the time to go for the throat, and then at that point in time, the game’s over.”

Arians took the blame for Palmer not just taking the sack in the first place.

“The intentional grounding was probably me overcoaching him,” Arians said. “Because of Andre (Ellington) running the ball out of bounds, we had to keep playing football to win the game and kneel down and I told him to be extra careful with it. He saw what looked like was going to be a blitz and we actually picked it up and missed an interior block. He wasn’t going to take the sack when he probably should have taken a sack.”


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36 Responses to “Arians explains his second-down pass”

  1. By John The Draft Guy on Oct 27, 2015 | Reply

    Don’t understand why he is explaining himself on the call.

    Because Ellington ran out and stopped the clock, We couldn’t force a timeout. If he stays in, the first down run gets the final timeout. Then, second and third could be runs taking the clock way down inside a minute.

    Since he went out, plans changed. On second down it was the perfect time to throw if you were going to. Remember, one first down ends the game. The Ravens were looking run, so it was the perfect opportunity to surprise them and end this thing. Running the ball on second down would have forced the 3rd timeout. Then, 3rd down run takes it to the 2 min warning. It added 20 seconds to the game by not running on 2nd down.

    Now, watching the play over Larry is wide open in the middle of the field. I mean, wide open. The issue was, Massie wiffs on his block. Doesnt even get a hand on him. Because of this Palmer doesn’t see Fitz and throws the intentional grounding ball.

    I like the call. It would have ended the game had Massie executed. People blame coaches when players don’t make plays, when in reality, the coach had the perfect play called to end the game.

    I look at the defense on that 4th down play, Rucker did not have containment. He allowed Flacco outside to buy time and find the TE.
    I blame Bethel being flat footed and giving up the big play down the side line.
    I blame the blitz not getting there on the big play to the TE to the 4.

    The defense shouldn’t have let Flacco march down the field. Ellington should have stayed in. Massie should have blocked. For that matter, Rashad Johnson has to make that block on the Punt and Catman has to make the extra point.
    Players need to make plays.

  2. By John The Draft Guy on Oct 27, 2015 | Reply

    If you want to get on the coach, I hated his decision to try a 55 yd FG on the first drive.

    I feel you don’t take that chance that early. The missed FG put the ball at almost mid field. Bad decision in my opinion.

  3. By Scott H on Oct 27, 2015 | Reply

    Yeah, I’m surprised more people have not made mention of the play where Ellington went out of bounds. I mean, nice job picking up the first down but what the hell are you thinking going out of bounds??? You stay in and the clock either continues to run or the Ravens have to burn a T/O. How do you not know that at that point in the game??? To me, that play was just one of many during the last 5 minutes or so that nearly paved the way for that being a loss that would have ranked right up there with the infamous loss to the Bears 10 years ago.

    Good lord…..maybe Andre was sensing that a disaster was looming and he was trying to SAVE some time for the Cardinals to try to win the game AFTER the Ravens tied it up! Maybe he knew what he was doing, after all.

    Looking ahead, I say we lean on the run game BIG TIME in Cleveland. They are THE WORST team in the NFL against the run right now and unless we somehow fall behind in this one, I really don’t want to have listen to BA making day-after explanations for why we didn’t run the damn ball.

    I love our passing game but this week is week to run, run, and run some more. We’ve been targeting top tier FA’s to put this O line together and we have a stable of lethal weapons at RB. I say it’s time to let the big dogs eat!

    As previously stated, I say we let CJ and this O-line beat the Browns up until he reaches the 125-130 yard mark, then we turn it over to Ellington and DJ to blow them away in the 2nd half with fresh legs and all that speed!

  4. By John The Draft Guy on Oct 27, 2015 | Reply

    Deone Bucannon;

    After watching him play LB all last year, and again this year, I think he just needs to put on 10-15 pounds and become a LB.

    He is playing at such a high level at LB and with the 3 safeties (Johnson, Badger, and Jefferson), there is no room at safety. All 3 cover better than Buccanon, , he is a solid blitzer, and his speed is allowing him to shoot gaps and make plays in the run game.

    His only issue is when big lineman get their hands on him, he struggles (see the TD run by Forsett) . Adding the 15 pounds of muscle would help him hold up inside.

    I guess it is a mute point, since he is playing LB every play for the last year and a half. But I would like to see him get a little bigger and accept what he is. After all, his play is making fans forget about that guy who use to wear #58.

  5. By mike on Oct 27, 2015 | Reply

    Does anyone else ever get bothered by the fact that we continually throw way too deep on simple second and third downs with less then 4 yards to gain for first down? I love the deep ball but not when it’s third and 1 and we incomplete a 25 yard pass then punt the ball. My next gripe is the fact that we stuck with drew butler who in my opinion lost us that Carolina playoff game last year and continues to punt absolutely terribly. And why is Patrick Peterson the only guy on the team that stops running early and gets burnt because he doesn’t look back for the ball!?

  6. By Biggest Cards Fan Eva on Oct 27, 2015 | Reply

    I thought running out of bounds and throwing the ball were both good ideas. How are they suppose to score more points to satisfy the fan base if that dang clock keeps ticking?

  7. By Dr. G. on Oct 27, 2015 | Reply

    A quandary for me has always been much needed repetitive “”time in the classroom” or “home study” to help the players stop making boneheaded plays…like Ellington running out of bounds a la PP to prevent a hit. Or Chancellor slapping the ball from the end zone….even the refs got that one wrong… this is simply mystifying.

    OK, OK… If it takes an hour a week from the field to cover rules and strategy, so be it. It cannot be solely “”skill players”” that understand THE GAME. Keim keeps talking about “”THINKING.””’ What is in your head is just as important as your physical ability… Or else we would not control the elephants… Size, speed and strength is essential, but without strategy and mental skill, losing is standard.

    Take the rule book home, ((not just the play book)) study, and prepare to be tested on paper…then clarify any misunderstandings, especially those that affect the on-field strategy..lets drill and grill the rules until they are 2nd nature…no more free bees to the opponent…This game is more about strategy than speed and power..!!…later fans…seems too simple, huh?

  8. By georgiebird on Oct 27, 2015 | Reply

    Cards win on Monday Night football- the rest of the story is not important.
    If anything, the biggest concern is wide open receivers against our defense.

  9. By Coach K on Oct 27, 2015 | Reply

    I do not like our red zone offense. We need to get a series of higher percentage plays in that area. Passing inside the 20 yard line offers little depth, so I would like to see more bunch formations and pick plays in the red zone passing plays. We need to get automatic and solid in the red zone. It has cost us two games this year thus far.

  10. By Coach k on Oct 27, 2015 | Reply

    Red zone offense needs to improve. More bunch formations on pass plays. More north-south power run plays. It cost us two games so far.

  11. By Chuck 1 on Oct 27, 2015 | Reply

    At some point this season, the Cat Man and/or Butler will cause the Cards to lose a game. They’ve proven to be unreliable.

  12. By Eazy E on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    It’s a bad decision when you don’t convert, and a great one when you do…

  13. By rod on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    BA doesn’t need to explain anything.

  14. By Marcelof on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    Nice Statement Scott H –

    Cards gotta run the ball against the Browns, but not only because they (browns) are what they are against the running game, but yet because by doing so you make the passing game more prolific and way, way more dangerous.

    Imo Arizona played amazingly against the Ravens despite some erros that almost costed the game as mentioned by JTDG.

    Cards are on a paved way to the super bowl and got a nice car to drive down this road, they just cannot drift off caused by mistakes that must have been avoided.

    But that’s the way I see a good football team playing out, play well and make the game yours, so that the mistakes will make no difference. You never play perfectly, so play enough to make the unperfect pointless on the final board.

  15. By DTL on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    JTDG – agree, sat there and said no no no… later figured out relativey low risk b/c home, Q1, and he wanted/needed to find out of he could make it… for December, January decisions computation….

  16. By Red Dead Redemption on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    It’s cool that he explains himself Whiz would have never done that and would have given a half answer. Since he likes giving explanations I’d love someone from the press to ask him why he insists on keeping the worst punter in the league on this team. Not sugar coat it and ask them about Butler. Say exactly, “Why do you have the worst punter in football on this team? Why not try some college free agents to compete during the bye? Butler more or less cost this team a playoff win last year and at least 15 points this year. In a close playoff game Butler could cost this team again.”

    Butler is the Ryan Lindley of punters. Fans rarely pay attention to punters but when they do it’s either because they have strong opinions on social media or are really bad. We are not talking about a Michigan type game where it was a one play fluke. He has been consistently bad on this team for pretty much a year now.

    When Levi Brown ended up getting moved I thought it would be the end of distracting players who shouldn’t be starters. This is an amazing coaching staff with a no non sense attitude and why I find it so shocking Butler still has a job.

    If Catman misses more extra points and field goals. I’d consider brining Jay back or trying out someone else.

  17. By Cardinal Ninja on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    Ellington going out of bounds was a really bad choice. I remember when Gurley had that big run against the cards and made it a point to fall down in bounds. It was great situational awareness from a rookie and I would have loved to have seen that from AE.

  18. By Thorin on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    I noticed the Massie meltdown too. Time for Wadford to be put in overall he was better than Massie. No reason not to start him.

  19. By Morgan on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    If you watch the Packers and Panthers. Neither is perfect and you can point to weakness. But until the Cardinals clean everything up not sure anyone reasonable could put them above either.
    To me this is a Falcons level type team. The punter, the top running backs who gashed us and a third string QB along with a Ravens below average receiving core slicing through our secondary like nothing have me worried.

  20. By truths4all on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    Ellington mindlessly going out of bounds when the clock needs to be milked is probably why CJ or even DJ will be running the ball from now on at the end of future games when the Cards are leading and they need to run time off of the game clock.

  21. By Fred on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    bad clock management the last two games in the fourth ?Its almost as if BA completely ignores the clock. Special teams need to improve or it could cost us a game.

  22. By John The Draft Guy on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply


    Me and my brother were discussing the same thing at the game.

    It does seem like every play is looking for big chunks. I am not sure if that is Palmer or BA?

    But crossing patterns underneath with Ellington or Fitz should be used more. We also don’t throw the wr screens anymore. I think if you hit Fitz with Floyd blocking, he is getting those two yards. It also seemed the CB smith had zero chance to cover John Brown on those 8-10 yard outs.

  23. By Secore on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    bad special teams mainly aimed at Drew Butler who has been horrific all season long. I believe he had something to do w that loss in Pittsburgh with the field position. Special teams if not corrected will doom this team.

  24. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    OK, so I can understand and appreciate that explanation.

    However, when the play isn’t there, throwing the ball away…??? Just take the sack. Arians acknowledges as much.

    I mentioned this a few weeks ago in the context of Eli not just falling down to keep the clock moving, instead of throwing the ball out of the end zone on 3rd and goal, when the Giants were just going to kick a FG anyway and there’s no real difference between a FG from the 2 and one from the 7 or 8. I blamed Eli, although someone (I think georgiebird) pointed out that it’s really on the coaching staff to make sure Eli knows that if the play’s not there, keep the clock moving. After thinking about that, I came around to georgiebird’s view — it really is on the coaching staff to remind the players of all these nuances; in the heat of the moment, the players aren’t going to remember. “OK, we’re going to try this, but if it’s not there, the most important thing is, keep the ball moving. We don’t want an incompletion. A sack is better than an incomplete pass.”

    Same applies here, and it’s good for Arians to take the blame.

  25. By Kevin S Mesa on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply


    Yeah, the 3rd and 1 play where Palmer lofted the ball probably a good 5-10 yards beyond Fitz bugged me too. We seem to move the ball with ease, and then kill a drive with something like that where we try to get way more than we need. Such a low-percentage play.

    Maybe if we were on the opposing team’s 40 and were going to go for it even if we didn’t get the 3rd down, I’d be OK with it. But not if we’re going to punt if we don’t make it.

    Of course, if it works, I’ll take it. But that’s the problem with that kind of play — when it doesn’t work, you leave yourself open to criticism.

  26. By JohnnyBluenose on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    KevinS Mesa…..Arians did kind of take the blame but don’t be mislead. This was all Palmer’s mistake and it was quite shocking coming from a veteran quarterback. Palmer definitely knows better. Ellington, on the other hand, may not have understood the importance of staying in-bounds. But now he knows and it should not happen again. Hopefully this was a learning opportunity for the entire team.

  27. By faster on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    catanzaro missed a field goal from 55 yards? so what, we know, he is not superman.
    but he is one of the better kickers in the NFL.

    darren, about the injury of powers, could the cards trade for CB sean smith? if he promises to hire a driver?

  28. By Darren Urban on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    Faster —

    RE: CB

    I don’t see them making a move right now. Powers might only miss one game.

  29. By Richard S on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply

    About Ellington running out of bounds: After watching the replay, I was thinking that if he goes down after getting the first down but before being touched, the ground could cause a fumble. After he was shoved towards the sideline, I would hate to see him blow out a knee trying to stay in bounds. I just had my knee replaced last year after trying to change directions 43 years ago in a flag football game. A healthy Ellington is good for the team.

  30. By Chuck 1 on Oct 28, 2015 | Reply


    Does “one of the better kickers in the NFL” miss extra points?

  31. By Scott H on Oct 29, 2015 | Reply

    I have not lost any confidence in the Cat Man, although the missed extra point bothers me a little. Honestly, I did not see the need to try a 55-yard GF on our first possession. Punting, pinning them deep, creating the opportunity for a turnover that would set us up in the red zone….much more appealing. And much more practical for that point in the game.

    Well, we have now seen the power of the changes to how extra points are done. And it almost cost us dearly. Cat makes that point, we are up by 3 scores, and the Ravens don’t have enough time to win that game. But a miss? Makes it a two-score game and the un-raveling began on cue! Never under-estimate the power of ONE point, man.

  32. By Scott H on Oct 29, 2015 | Reply

    Chuck 1 –

    With the changes that made extra points longer, the reality is that, yes, the “best” kickers in the league ARE going to miss one at some point. Statistically, it IS happening that more extra points are being missed this year than ever before. So, it would seem to me that the “new” measuring stick for kickers will become if they are missing with any regularity or just so sporadically that they are – statistically – still among the best kickers in the league.

    Bottom line, this needs time to shake out.

  33. By faster on Oct 29, 2015 | Reply

    @chuck and scott, kickers from the bears, giants, vikings, steelers, chargers, eagles, bucs, panthers, saints, bills, jaguars, texans, bengals, lions, colts and dolphins, all missed at least one extra point. since the rule change we have seen a lot more misses, and we will see a lot more misses.

    and as long as the team doesn`t lose because of it, i do not really care, albeit it was very exciting and maybe not neccesarry, the last two minutes against the ravens.

    when we loose the first game with one point difference, because catanzaro missed, or when we loose, because he broke the momentum, i will care, but until then, the injury of a good cornerback is more important for me.

  34. By Scott H on Oct 29, 2015 | Reply

    faster –

    Um…you realize I was basically agreeing with you, yes??

  35. By Chuck 1 on Oct 29, 2015 | Reply

    faster (& Scott H),

    I count sixteen kickers (in your post) that have missed at least one extra point this season. That’s in addition to our own beloved Cat Man.
    That puts him in the bottom half of the kickers in the NFL along with the others who’ve also chumped extra points.
    Is that what Cards’ fans should be satisfied with?
    I’m not willing to give him a pass for being in the bottom half.
    I don’t care how the extra distance has affected those kickers.

  36. By Dr. G. on Oct 30, 2015 | Reply

    faster….scotty…and re: the missed pat in the Ravens game, you do realize a 9 point lead vs an 8 point lead would make all the end of game scare moot… right?

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