Bruce Arians wants to win games, even in the preseason. "We're 2-0," he said after the Arizona Cardinals forced six turnovers en route to a 12-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys at home on Saturday. "That's always the first goal."
That doesn't mean he is content with everything that happened, though. He was happy about a couple of phases of the game; namely, the defense and special teams.
Special teams had the first words of praise, as Arians said they "played an outstanding game," playing with a lot of speed. "We had a motto of hit and hustle," explained Arians. "I thought it really showed up on special teams. They really set the tempo for the day for us, and we should do that every week."
Defensively, it looked good after getting six turnovers. "I was really plased with the way we took the ball away," he said. "We have eight takeaways in two games, something to just continue to build upon defensively."
Unfortunately, the defense did finally allow points, giving up a touchdown in the fourth quarter. It took more than seven quarters of football for that to happen.
Of course, that comes with consequences, and Arians said that they would need to come up with a fine of sorts for the players that were on the field at the time the touchdown was scored. "I'm sure the veterans will come up with something special for that fine," Arians said, noting that it probably won't be cutting their hair, seeing that they already had done that to the rookies.
The one thing to work on defensively? The "explosive plays" they allowed, which happened a in man coverage. "Sometimes guys think they're faster than they are and they give a guy a little room and they can't catch them," he said. "They're going to learn that in man coverage. You've got to stay within a foot or two of your guy to make the tackle, even if you don't make the catch."
Offensively, it was a different story.
They looked good until they got into the red zone. Five times they got there and came away without a single touchdown. "We play extremely well all over the field until we get inside the 20, and then we have a ton of mental errors," he said. "It baffles me. With all three groups, we had mental errors in the red zone that ended up in field goals."
They also came away empty twice. Once they went for it on fourth down and the play was there, one they "have practiced a bunch," but Carson Palmer just underthrew the ball. The other case was a missed 30-yard field goal by Jay Feely, which Arians called "unacceptable." He then talked about accountability, so perhaps we may see some new competition at kicker.
Not all was bad offensively. He was pleased with the play of the offensive line. He said that the one holding penalty that Levi Brown had "could have gone either way." He was pleased "at times" with the running game.
But the mental errors baffle the coach. Whether it was missed assignments, the quarterback and receivers not being on the same page, something always stood in the way. "51 plays I think we had in the first half and only nine points is horrendous," he said. "We've got to learn to score touchdowns."
That sums it up. Two games, one touchdown in the red zone. But they have two wins and have looked good in many parts of the game. That's something to build on, which is what the preseason is for.
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- Cowboys vs. Cardinals preview: 5 questions with Blogging the Boys
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