Buck Reising, host of Technically Foul and The Final Drive shares news and notes from the pre-game conference call between Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and the Nashville media.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans (8-4) will travel West for a two-game swing starting this week in Glendale, Arizona where the team will take on the Cardinals. Cards coach Bruce Arians spent some time on a conference call with the Nashville media to discuss the match-up.
Here’s what Coach Arians had to say:
- First Impressions
- There have been only three contests between the modern-day versions of Tennessee and Arizona; it will be the first time Arians and company have squared off against Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota.
- “Oh, there’s no doubt (it will be a challenge),” Arians said of facing the third-year pro. “Especially when this is as unique of an offense as this one is because of all the things that they do. So, yeah, it puts a lot of pressure on you.”
- Mariota’s stat line was pedestrian in the 24-13 victory over the visiting Houston Texans (4-8) on Sunday; Titans coach Mike Mularkey described the performance afterwards as “efficient.” The Oregon product completed 15-of-23 passes for 150 yards, including a 24-yard dart to tight end Delanie Walker to give Tennessee the lead. Mariota also ran three times for 23-yards and another score.
- Fear The Ground Game
- Against Houston Sunday, the Titans recorded 198 yards on the ground, the highest total for the team since rushing for 214 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars in October of 2016.
- Arians was asked about the challenge of preparing to play running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry but made sure to note that those were not the only players to be concerned with when facing the scheme known best as “exotic smashmouth.”
“Well it’s not just (Murray and Henry), Arians stated. “You always have the threat of Marcus (Mariota) keeping the ball. They have the power game then they also have the read-option game, and it just puts a lot of pressure on your defense to get prepared, because if you can’t stop the power game you’re going to have a long day.”
- Arizona linebacker Chandler Jones was a menace in his team’s 32-16 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The former New England Patriot wracked up four tackles, a sack, three quarterback hits, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
- When asked what a player like Jones brings to his defense, Arians emphasized that “you don’t have to blitz quite as much, although, we still like to come after people and pressure people.”
- “The one thing is that when you do bring five, he’s getting singled,” Arians went on to say. “He’s a relentless player. He’s one of the hardest-playing guys that I’ve ever had.”
- Through 12 games in 2017, Jones has 51 tackles, 13.0 sacks (second in the NFL), 21 tackles for loss, 28 quarterback hits, 14 pressures and two forced fumbles. Since being acquired by the Cardinals via trade in 2016, he leads the NFL in sacks (24.0) and tackles for loss (36) in that span. The Titans offensive line has allowed only eight sacks coming into Week 14.
- Virtual Reality
- Two years ago, Peter King of Sports Illustrated wrote about Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer’s use of virtual reality equipment in his game preparation and training. At the time, Palmer was receiving serious consideration for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award and credited the innovative method as contributing to his success. Palmer was lost for the remainder of the 2017-2018 campaign after sustaining a broken arm against the Rams during their first meeting in late October but the virtual reality training remains a core part of the Cardinals quarterbacks’ regimen.
- “Oh, yes indeed. They all use it, we use it every practice,” said Arians when asked if virtual reality was still a method his team employs. “That’s a big part of our preparation. You get reps, especially at backup quarterback. (You) can get all the reps from a blitz drill or any seven-on-seven that – without throwing. You get all those mental reps because it’s an actual practice, it’s not playing a video game. It’s amazing, you turn your head (and) you see wide receivers to the left and right. You turn around, the running back is behind you. You get all those live actual reps sitting in a chair.”
- Arizona has started backup signal-caller Blaine Gabbert since Week 11 of this year. Gabbert led the Cards to a 27-24 upset victory of the Jacksonville Jaguars (8-4) in Week 12, allowing Tennessee to reclaim the lead in the AFC South due to tiebreakers. Gabbert is completing 59.6% of his passes this season with six touchdown against five interceptions and a QBR of 37.2.
- Ageless Wonder
- It seems almost everyone in NFL circles has spent time with or has a story about Tennessee’s octogenarian defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau from his many years spent coaching and playing in the League. Arians and LeBeau were on the same Pittsburgh Steelers staff from 2004 until 2011.
- “Well, it’s probably a whole lot easier for him to shoot his age now on the golf course every day,” Arians said jokingly of LeBeau when asked if he had any stories he would be willing to share. “I think it was when he was 71, he still did it all the time anyway. Just one of the greatest – I think his genetics need to be somehow scientifically engineered and given to everybody else.”
- Arians also made sure to compliment the coaching of the Titans defense when asked for his first impressions from the film.
- “(The defense) play(s) extremely hard and physical,” Arians stated. “A lot more man-to-man than I’m used to seeing Coach LeBeau play, but he’s got the players that can do it. He always puts his guys in a position to be successful.”
UP NEXT: Tennessee faces Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday, December 3rd at 3:05 PM CT.