The defense can’t wait to hit someone besides a teammate. And the offense can’t wait to face a defense that doesn’t know what’s coming. When a defense faces the same scheme for almost 25 practices since April, it can memorize the audibles and have no shame in letting the offense know.
“As soon as we audibled one time, the whole defense said the play that was coming because we’re in practice nine, 10, 11,” quarterback Carson Palmer said. “[Cardinals coach Bruce Arians] just wants to see the audible executed. It could get completely covered and completely blown up, he wants to see it executed because you see it in the walk-through, then you see it in the practice that day.
“From a defense, it’s pretty easy to pick up.”
All it takes, however, is a receiver to break off a route a split second early and Palmer can have a passing window.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie can’t sense frustration from Palmer or the other three quarterbacks yet. Learning the offense’s plays and calls is a byproduct of practicing against each other for so long, Cromartie said.
“The quarterbacks are back there making the right reads,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of coverage you’re in, you can find someone that’s open.”
The offense doesn’t have the luxury of seeing the same defensive plays on every snap.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is adding new coverages and blitzes daily, if not changing them on the fly during practice, Palmer said. He’s also masking his coverages enough to confuse Palmer.
“You can’t get a beat on what you think is coming,” Palmer said. “He’ll show you a look where they’re bringing [the] Will free safety one day, and they’ll have the exact same look four periods later in practice and that’s a blitz from the other side of the field that looks exactly the same.
“It’s very well built and it’s very well orchestrated.”
It’s gotten to the point, however, where a good play by the offense isn't the norm anymore.
“When the offense wins a few matches in practice, I’m very proud,” Arians said. “Our offense is getting better.”
When the season begins, Palmer said, Arizona will use the same audible about once every three weeks, limiting how much opposing defenses can predict what’s coming. For the next few weeks, however, Palmer will have to settle for trying to execute his plays well enough to make them difficult to defend.
“You just try to execute, but that stuff does get frustrating,” Palmer said. “It just gets frustrating. You got to fight that frustration.”