The way Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer sees things, his team will need big plays in the absence of extended drives to compete against rugged NFC West defenses.
'12 Points/Drive Allowed by Explosive Plays
"If they make a mistake, hold the ball and chuck it for a 60-yard gain," Palmer said from training camp recently when explaining coach Bruce Arians' mindset. "Don't take the checkdown, checkdown, checkdown. In this division especially, you can't go seven or eight drives a game trying to get 12- to 14-play drives. The defenses are too good."
Arians points to 15 yards for runs and 25 yards for passes as parameters for "explosive" plays.
Last season, NFL teams averaged 0.7 points per drive without an explosive play and 3.8 yards per drive with at least one of them (using Arians' parameters). The chart, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, breaks down the averages by NFC West defenses.
"I have been so ingrained to get completions, get completions, get completions," Palmer said. "[Arians] is more, 'Let's take shots when we can. Let's take advantage of those mistakes, guys being a little bit out of practice, a guy not quite getting to the hash or a guy not quite getting outside the numbers. If he stays inside the numbers, let's take this opportunity. Play offense.' "
Can the Cardinals strike for big plays in the passing game without taking too many quarterback hits or sacks? We've heard from Arians on the matter, and from Palmer. Their philosophy will be a frequent reference point for Cardinals-related analysis this season.