Arizona Cardinals’ head coach Bruce Arians spoke on a conference call with Bay Area reporters Wednesday morning. Here is a transcript.
Q: Do you feel like your team is getting better each week as we go along here?
ARIANS: We are starting to improve each week. Offensively it’s taken a little more time than we had hoped, but special teams and defense so far have been playing pretty solid.
Q: Why do you think the offense hasn’t come around as quickly as you had hoped?
ARIANS: It’s taken a little more time between our quarterback and our receivers, a couple injuries early in the year and then guys getting back into the mix kind of slowed our progress a little bit?
Q: Does the offense typically take longer to gel than the defense and special teams?
ARIANS: I think that would probably be normal but this is a little bit too long. We need to be play better offensively right now to have a chance to win.
Q: What stood out on the film from Sunday Night’s game against the Texans?
ARIANS: I thought their secondary played outstanding and did a great job. I’ve always respected Vic, known Vic a long time. They did a really good job of disguising some coverages and obviously getting interceptions and turnovers and just the way they played. And then offensively, they’re playing their style of football.
Q: How do you think your defensive front matches up with the 49ers when they’re playing their style of football?
ARIANS: Well hopefully very well. One thing we’ve done so far is be able to play the run pretty solidly and eliminate long balls. I think the matchups between Anquan and Vernon Davis with that running game create problems, and Jimmy does a great job of making sure they know where to find them.
Q: You noted that you believe Patrick Peterson is the best cornerback in the league right now. Do you expect him to lock down on Boldin the entire game?
ARIANS: Not the entire game but that will be his matchup of the week and that’s a great challenge because ‘Quan is such a physical guy and great catcher-of-the-football and a hell of a football player.
Q: Do you draw on your experience last season coaching the Colts, and what has it been like working with a veteran quarterback this year as opposed to a very mature rookie last year?
ARIANS: Yeah, last year obviously was a great learning experience for me, being a head coach under the circumstances and calling the plays and running the offense, I convinced myself it wasn’t going to be a problem. Having a whole offseason and training camp, it’s kind of been a lot easier. I’ve got a great staff to depend upon and lean on. That part of it was extremely easy.
The difference between the two quarterbacks, when you get a rookie he doesn’t have some preconceived notions about certain styles of plays – oh, this is like that. No, he’s learning it frond Ground One. It’s a little bit easier to get him up to speed sometimes than taking a veteran and saying, “No, this is not that play, we don’t read it that way, this is how we read it.”
It’s been a bit longer and harder for Carson I think than it would be a rookie because he’s been in so many systems and there are certain things he likes. We try to build around those things he likes that he can handle.
Q: Has that meant more learning for you as well, to adjust your rules?
ARIANS: Yes and no. In 21 years, those rules have been adjusted so many times. We try to do whatever is best for our players.
Q: What has Tyrann Mathieu brought to your team this season?
ARIANS: A ton of energy. A playmaker. He has been a relentless practice player. He gets mad if he doesn’t get every rep. And it’s showing up on Sundays. He gets his hands on balls. He’s sacking quarterbacks. He’s a playmaker. His size and speed may not measure sometimes to as good a football player as he is.
Q: Can you get back to Carson Palmer and analyze how he’s come along. Has he lived up to what you wanted him to be? Is there a lot more room for improvement?
ARIANS: I think we always have room for improvement, all of us. He started out extremely well in St. Louis. Robbie Housler was out for a few weeks. We’re trying to integrate him back into the offense. And then Larry’s hamstring problem set him back a little bit on the chemistry with the guys. Guys had to start moving around a little bit more and were out of their spots from the game in St. Louis where it looked like we were in sync and played pretty solidly offensively. We haven’t played that well since.
The turnovers are something that has to be eliminated. We can’t turn the football over and beat anybody.
Q: How much does the 49ers’ defense rely on generating those takeaways?
ARIANS: I think all the great ones do. They live on disruptive plays and taking the football away and they’re very, very good at it. When you can set your offense up on the plus side of the field, that’s a huge, huge swing. When you’re in the red zone and you take it away, you took three points off the board from the offense, or seven. That’s been our problem, we’ve turned it over in the red zone three times and lost points. Those have to be eliminated.