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Arians: Looks like Eli's still learning

9/10/2014

Bruce Arians brought a new offense with him when he took over as Arizona Cardinals coach last year, and it took a while for veteran quarterback Carson Palmer to master it. So when Arians watches New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning right now, he sees a familiar sight -- a veteran going through growing pains as he works to learn a new offense.

"I don't think there's any doubt," said Arians, whose Cardinals visit the Giants at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. "It's very hard for somebody to change after they've been in a system. I did this with Carson Palmer last year. He'd been in the same system pretty much nine years and he has ideas and you're trying to reprogram. It's easier getting a rookie and brainwashing him than it is to take a veteran and change him totally into a new system."

The Giants' offense looked poor throughout the preseason and did again in racking up only 197 yards in a season-opening loss in Detroit on Monday night. Manning and the passing game have struggled so badly to get on track that wide receiver Victor Cruz is publicly petitioning for more targets. The problems range from pass protection up front to Manning's continued struggles with the footwork and timing on which new coordinator Ben McAdoo's West Coast scheme is based. And it's possible it's going to be a long time before it looks the way they want it to look.

"I try never to judge a quarterback in a new offense until Week 8," Arians said. "Because it just takes so much time, and you see the same defense all through OTAs and all of training camp. Now, all of a sudden you're seeing a different defense every week and a different game plan, and I think it takes a while to get through a number of different-style clubs and swing it back and really see the improvement in the second half of the season."

That's potentially bad news for a Giants team that started 0-6 last year and was hoping to get off to a faster start this year. But Arians' point is that it takes time, as he saw last year when he had to teach his own scheme to Palmer.

"It was Week 8 for us last year," Arians said. "That's when, all of a sudden, you could see the guys around him start to get it and play faster and play better. Instead of waiting to see a guy come open, he was throwing guys open. When you can throw the ball on time, trust the receiver is going to be there, everything happens a second or a second and a half faster. And that's a lot of time when you're talking about the passing game."