It’s been a rough couple of seasons for the Arizona Cardinals and now in 2013, change has come with a new head coach, Bruce Arians and likely starting quarterback, Carson Palmer.
After a 5-11 season and a last-place finish in the NFC West last season, things can only get better for this team. But are Arians and Palmer the answer?
So far so good.
This week at the team’s OTAs, Palmer expressed excitement about his football future and gushed about his coach. He said via Yahoo!, “I love the head coach. I mean, I love the head coach. He keeps it real. He already has this team wrapped around his finger. And we have some talented players in this locker room.”
For Palmer, 33, he is hoping third time is the charm.
The Heisman trophy-winning quarterback was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003 and then traded by them in 2011 to the Oakland Raiders. Palmer battled some injuries in 2012 and for the 2013 season, the Raiders asked him to take a pay cut without guaranteed money. The player resisted, which led to another trade.
The Raiders grabbed the former Seattle Seahawks backup Matt Flynn as their likely new starter while Palmer got shipped to Arizona.
And so a new chapter begins for this quarterback.
Palmer has already received support from some of his teammates including defensive tackle Darnell Dockett and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who said of him recently via Yahoo!, “He is a wonderful teammate. He’s a hard worker. We will get after it, and I’m excited about it. It’s been great getting to know him, and him getting to know us. He has been stabilizing for us thus far, and that feels great. I know [the rest of our] teammates concur.”
As for Arians, at age 60, this is his first head coaching gig.
Known as a quarterback guru, this coach has tutored the Denver Broncos Peyton Manning, Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger and Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck. Last season, he took over the coaching reins at the Colts for the ill head coach Chuck Pagano and found himself as the league’s 2012 Coach of the Year; now he has a top coaching job at the Cardinals.
Already in his new role, players have called him a “stickler.” He has jumped on Palmer and Fitzgerald for mistakes they have made in practice and this week at OTAs, Arians took on the entire offsense and expressed displeasure with them. He said via ESPN, “We’re just not picking it up fast enough. We’re still not picking it up the way I’d like to — at all positions.”
Then he specifically picked on his receivers with, “I don’t like mistakes. I really don’t like mental mistakes especially if you made the same mistake last week. That should be corrected and in the books by now, and our receivers are not getting that done.”
For Arians, the offense can only get better as they sat at the bottom of the league in 2012. Changes are already evident from roster moves as well as additions to the coaching staff.
The new coach has been applauded for his directness and discipline–something that was likely missing under former coach Ken Whisenhunt. In a difficult NFC West division, Arians has his hands full to try and compete. But it doesn’t mean that he and Palmer don’t have lofty goals: both want a Super Bowl for this team.
For now it’s warm and sunny in Phoenix but will it stay that way through the season? The forecast looks good.