Open Mike Session with Cardinals HC Bruce Arians

TEMPE, Ariz. – Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals hit the practice field on Tuesday in preparation for their Wild Card playoff game with the Carolina Panthers on Saturday.

Arians sat down with the media before practice. Among the topics discussed was the team’s travel schedule changing. Arians said that the team will fly to Charlotte, N.C., on Thursday instead of Friday.

“Nothing really new to talk about. We had a good walk-through. That’s about all the news that I’ve got for you. I don’t have to give an injury report today so you can save those until tomorrow. I don’t know why, but nothing has changed anyway.”

On if they are now traveling on Thursday:

“We’ve decided to move the flight up and go early. I talked with the players and the players were wanting to get in Thursday night, so we moved everything up and we’ll go ahead and go Thursday night.”

On why the team is flying in early:

“The players just felt that they needed more rest from the flight itself and the one thing that you want to do as a coach is to make sure that no one has an excuse. If that’s an excuse, we’re going to fix that one real quick.”

On whether Ryan Lindley’s play has inspired a lot of confidence in the locker room:

“I don’t think there’s any doubt. It gave him a lot of confidence. That’s as good of a first half of football as we’ve had anybody play quarterback this year. Yeah, it gave everybody confidence. I think it’s hard for a team in December to start looking for a new identity offensively, but we’ve got new (running) backs, a new tight end, a new quarterback, so we’re all kind of searching for what we do pretty good. I think that was the best run efficiency we had in a ball game and really solid quarterback play for a half. Now, we need to put it together for 60 minutes.”

On whether it was encouraging for Lindley to have his weapons help him out:

“Guys made catches for him. That’s what we talked about. No matter who is playing quarterback, you put it out there, somebody’s got to make a play. And, they’re all capable of making whatever play. I was surprised Smokey (WR John Brown) did not come down with that one he had an opportunity for. In the playoffs, you need those.”

On what it would mean for the Cardinals to succeed with a third-string quarterback in the playoffs:

“I don’t think that anything different is expected of us in that locker room. We don’t look at it as a team with a third-string quarterback; it’s our starting quarterback. He’s a Cardinal so we’d look for the same level of efficiency that we’d see if Carson (Palmer) or Drew (Stanton) were out there. I think last week gave everybody, defensively and offensively, the entire group, more confidence that they’re ready to go this week.”

On what it means to have Jared Veldheer start every game and play at a high level all season long:

“That’s a huge difference for the Cardinals to have a Pro Bowl left tackle. I know he didn’t get voted, but he played that way the entire year. It’s hard to cross conferences and get voted in your first year, but he’s been outstanding the entire season and has gotten better. That’s the nice thing. He’s getting better and better every week. Bobby Massie has also.”

On recapturing the defense’s identity after the last two losses:

“You play a little looser when you feel like your offense is going to score points and you don’t have to win the game. When you feel like you have to win the game, you’ll press and you’ll do too much. There will be guys getting out of their gaps, trying to go make a play and they’re really hurting the team more than helping the team. You just go back to fundamentals. Stay in your gap. Good pad level. Tackle. Tackle. That’s the key.”

On the similarities between Panthers QB Cam Newton and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson and 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick and the problems he will pose for the defense:

“They don’t run Russell (Wilson) or Kaep (Colin Kaepernick) between the tackles, like a fullback. Cam (Newton) is a big tight end running in there. When they start running speed sweeps sideways, they’re also running the power downhill with the quarterback. That’s a very unusual offense to run in the NFL. They’ve done it quite successfully the last month. A lot of the other things he did in college. It presents different problems when you’re just dealing with options, speed sweeps or quarterback sweeps because then all of a sudden, it’s a counter play this way, and a power play with a quarterback running the ball and the tight end going down a seam. There are a lot of things to get ready for in a short week.”

On whether Newton looks like a QB who has suffered a lot of injuries:

“He doesn’t look like a guy who was in a car accident, that’s for sure. He’s a freaky athlete. To survive that wreck and come back and play, he had to be in unbelievable condition to do that. He is as healthy as he’s been all year.”

On whether they will put a shadow on Newton:

“If you do that too much, the running backs are going to kill you because you’re going to be a gap short. When it’s obvious passing situations, there are some spy defenses that we’ve used in the past that we could use. But the big thing is to play good coverage and stay in your lanes and rush with discipline. We had a guy jump out of his lane the other day and it opened up a huge hole right in front of the quarterback, playing man-to-man. That’s the No. 1 taboo.”

On if seeing mobile quarterbacks in recent games gives him an opportunity to see what needs to be corrected:

“Yeah, definitely. There are so many carryover things from the last two weeks going into this week, than if you’d played him for the first time and hadn’t played those other teams. It’s an advantage for us schematically because we’ve seen some things work and not work, and look at how they run their offense with the quarterback. It gives you an advantage.”

On how the return of LB Larry Foote will help the defense:

“You’ve got a 12-year veteran, a 13-year veteran, whatever the hell he is; an old guy that has a resume so when he gets in somebody’s face, they listen. A young guy with no resume, they just tell him to ‘Shut up,’ or he won’t even say anything. That part of it is huge for us, to have his leadership out there.”

On what he’s told the younger guys on the team about the playoffs:

“It’s not just young ones. It’s the old ones too. We don’t have that many guys who have been to the playoffs in a while. So it’s a one-game season each week and there is no reason not to have maximum preparation and give everything you have in this one game because it could be the last one.”

On whether there is any update on Drew Stanton’s status:

“No change in Drew.”

On if the 2008 Cardinals team that went to the Super Bowl is an inspiration to the 2014 Cardinals:

“Not really. There are even fewer guys that played in that game last year. There are only like 16 guys who were in that game. That’s the NFL these days. The guys who were here can grab young guys and tell them that this doesn’t come around very often so make sure that you don’t think this is something that you’re going to do every year and get ready to play.”

On how much he relies on veteran players with playoff experience to have a role in the locker room:

“That’s part of building your team, to make sure that you have some guys that have been there, so that as you’re growing during the season, they keep them focused. They don’t listen to coaches that much, but they will listen to players.”

On if he has talked to Todd Bowles about being contacted about NFL head coaching vacancies and how to balance that with preparation:

“We’ve talked about it. This week is hands off anyways. Next week, when you’re preparing for the game, set aside a time that you want to pick a team or which teams you want to talk to, and I’m all for it. He deserves it and he’s earned the right, but it’s not going to affect his focus on next week’s game.”

On how deep the list of guys is to potentially replace Bowles should he depart:

“Not too many specifics, but I had 19 of the 23 guys picked out. I had to get a couple guys out of contracts, but you have a staff ready to go and there are enough people available, and we have guys who are more than capable of filling it.”

On how much practice Stanton needs to have to play Saturday:

“One day. Just one day, physically.”

On whether the team will practice on Friday in Carolina:

“We’ll walk-through.”

On whether Stanton participating in a walk-through will be sufficient for him to play:

“No.”

On whether he had a sense that Lindley was going to play as well as he did in the first half last week:

“Oh yeah. Just the poise he had in the game. People lose sight of the magnitude of that game and that experience against Seattle, to be thrown in to your first start in two years. It was a lot of good eye contact and poise with him as a player, understanding what we’re trying to get done. And, he threw some really good balls. We didn’t help him any, but in this one, he got off to a good start. He was in a comfort zone and then you could see his leadership come up. He was talking in the huddle more and guys started responding. It was a nice step forward.”

On whether Lindley’s good play helps the defense not press as much:

“It should. I think that was one thing that our defense knows right now, is that it’s not easy to score on your first possession of the game and then have a busted assignment and give up a touchdown to tie it back up. It’s critical.”

On how much the last two losses affected the defense’s confidence:

“Some guys played really well, so that doesn’t affect them at all. But as a group, it’s not who we’ve been all year, so you’d like to play better.”

 

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