Cardinals' Bruce Arians not afraid to call out players
Calais Campbell, Jerraud Powers and Rashad Johnson were eating together at the Cardinals' charity bowling event on Monday night when coach Bruce Arians walked by with something to say, as usual.
“Wait until you see the media,” Arians said to the three. “I called you out on this one.”
The players had no idea to whom or what Arians was referring.
“We all looked at each other,” Powers said, “and it was like, ‘Well, we’ll read the report tomorrow.' ”
It was Campbell. The defensive end was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2014, and he’s had dominant games this season. But one of them was not in Cleveland last Sunday, which Arians pointed out to reporters on Monday.
“He should have had a dominant game in that game and he didn’t,” Arians said.
Campbell has been a frequent target of Arians’ in the coach's three seasons. It’s not that Arians has ever said Campbell played poorly, but he’s not shy about saying he wants more from his best defensive lineman.
A year ago, Campbell had three sacks against the Seahawks in Seattle. It was not good enough, Arians said afterward.
"He could play better," Arians said. "He had potential for a five-sack day. Three sacks is nice when it comes to sacks, but he's a better player than that."
Campbell doesn’t feel singled out, and he shouldn’t. Arians is an equal opportunity offender.
If quarterback Carson Palmer had three touchdown passes, Arians will mention the two others he missed.
If the secondary has two interceptions, Arians brings up the two it dropped.
If Jared Veldheer had a perfect day pass blocking, as he did last Sunday, Arians adds that his left tackle’s run blocking was average.
“After the Pittsburgh game, I think he (Arians) might have put in the media that Carson ‘p----d down his leg,’ or something of that nature,” Powers said. “Nobody’s safe.”
It’s unusual at any level of football for the head coach to be so critical of his players publicly, but especially in the NFL.
Coaches usually refrain from criticizing them publicly for fear of “losing the locker room.”
Not Arians. And his players accept it as “B.A. being B.A.”
“His experience, he’s been to the top of the hill,” Palmer said. “He’s as smart a football mind as there is in the game. And just the fact that he doesn’t waver, he doesn’t change week to week.
“After a win, it’s the same as after a loss. You’ve got to be ready to be chewed out after a win or a loss. He wants to put that pressure on you, that kind of tough-minded, never-good-enough mentality because he knows that’s what it takes to win.”
Campbell is a frequent target because Arians believes he should be among the best linemen in the NFL every week.
Arians pokes and irritates the secondary because that group can take it, and because it’s the strongest area of the team.
While players accept the criticism, it’s not always immediately embraced. Arians’ public criticism is meant to irritate and motivate, and it often does.
“Guys get ticked off about it, but that’s just his way of making us keep the edge,” Powers said. “Even though we’re out there competing for ourselves and want to do great, in the back of our heads, we’re trying to do stuff so we can go back and be like, ‘Now, what are you going to say?’
“I think it’s his way to keep that fire and edge going. He knows that Calais plays great every weekend. But when he lacks a couple plays, or leaves a couple out there, he (Arians) is going to be the first one to let him know.”
Reach Somers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-444-8335. Follow him at twitter.com/kentsomers.
36-16: Bruce Arians’ record as head coach. Cardinals (27-13), Colts (9-3)
22-8: Carson Palmer’s record as Cardinals starting quarterback
20: Number of touchdown passes thrown by Palmer, most in franchise history through eight games. Kurt Warner had the previous high (16) in both 2008 and ’09.
4: Number of 100-yard rushing games by Chris Johnson.
21-41: Records of Cardinals first eight opponents.
35-24: Records of Cardinals next eight opponents.
“I’ll zone out February 8. There is a bye week but we’re in here working. Guys are going to be around, working out and getting healthy, just prepping for the road ahead.”
Palmer when asked if he will relax or “zone out” during the off week.
Cardinals (6-2) – An off week, then consecutive Sunday nights with Al and Cris.
Rams (4-3) – Vikings game this week. Two up and coming teams.
Seahawks (4-4) -- An off week before taking on the Birds that lead the division.
49ers (2-6) – Next level analysis: Blaine Gabbert doesn’t pull them out of the tailspin.
What they’re saying:
“I'm a be at your girl house it's our bye week Mr. Owner
-- Receiver John Brown @jwalk_back13, responding to this tweet from this fantasy owner, unhappy that Brown didn’t play in Cleveland: "Shout out to @Jwalk_back12 & James Jones, y'all just earned a trip to my bench next week"
“Not even on the pro bowl ballot this year.. Gotta do better..#motivation”
-- Safety Tony Jefferson @tonyjefferson1
“Bout to go on madden and put myself in pro bowl tho. So I'm not even trippin”
“HS team backed r way into playoffs - but I played on worst Playoff team ever & was 3mins from winning a Champ - I'm saying we have a chance!”