Cards comfortable with scheme in Year 2

May, 21, 2014
May 21
12:35
AM ET
TEMPE, Ariz. -- What a difference a year makes.

During the Arizona Cardinals' first organized team activities of 2013, the offense was a bunch of lost souls. On Tuesday, not only did Carson Palmer know his way around head coach Bruce Arians' scheme, he was teaching it to others.

"Last year he was learning, now he's coaching," Arians said. "They're getting on the same page, talking. Every play, you see him come back and there's good dialogue on what they saw: 'Why'd you break out? Why'd you break in? So, yeah, that's by far the best part."

Having a year to learn, if not master, the offense put the Cardinals "light years" ahead of last year's first practice. To Arians, 2013 and 2014 are like night and day.

Instead of worrying about nearly every little part of the offense as he did last offseason, Palmer was focused Tuesday on three things: "my first progression, my second progression, my third progression." It was a vast difference from when the Cardinals offense was "just swimming. Inside your head, you're thinking about 80 different things," Palmer said.

"It was actually enjoyable," he added. "It wasn't frustrating and all the motions you go through when you're learning a new offense. I've had an entire offseason to study this offense and study our guys in this offense, and it was fun."

One of the major differences this offseason is the Cardinals' ability to watch themselves on film. Last season, when Arians was installing his complex two-tight-end, pass-happy scheme, he could teach it only using cut-ups of the plays from his time in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.

Arians said it makes a huge difference and made working on the offense this offseason easier.

To Palmer and the offense, however, watching themselves on film instead of Indianapolis' Andrew Luck or Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger has built confidence, a broader comfort level and a respect for each play.

"It's just a totally different comfort level right now," Palmer said.

"There’s not a shadow of a doubt on certain plays where there was in the past like there are in new systems and new offenses."

Even though there wasn't anything that happened Tuesday that concerned Palmer, Arians wasn't pleased with a few rusty mistakes. There were too many offsides penalties on hard counts and false starts, including one by right tackle Bradley Sowell on a 20-yard pass.

"That doesn't help," Arians quipped about Sowell. "You've got to be able to count to two."

Arians started the Cardinals from scratch this week, despite a veteran presence on the roster. He began by installing the huddle, then the snap count and going from there, or from "soup to nuts" as he put it Tuesday. Even though the majority of the offense returned, Arians couldn't move too fast. He didn't want to assume everyone knew everything.

But when it came down to installing the offense, Arians isn't adding another chapter. He wants his team to master what's already there.

"Just [get a] better understanding and knowing why we're doing it, and getting to know how to do it better," Arians said. "You can overcoach it. There are a few wrinkles that we saw last year [with] defenses that we can attack with. [Just] a play or two but not a philosophy."

Josh Weinfuss

ESPN Arizona Cardinals reporter

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