TEMPE, Ariz. -- If the New York Giants are scratching their heads, bewildered at how long it’ll take them to learn their new offense, all they need to do is look across the field on Sunday.
The Arizona Cardinals know a thing or two about taking a while to learn a new scheme.
New York is in the same boat Arizona was at this time last year, when the Cardinals began running Bruce Arians’ new offense. There was confusion. There was poor execution. There were losses. The spotlight may shine brighter in New York than in Arizona, but the issues on the field aren’t that far apart.
“I’m not patient,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said during his conference call with the Arizona media Wednesday. "I’m not one of those. I don’t have a real good handle on that maybe because we haven’t done that around here, and I haven’t done that for a long time. I have to bite my tongue sometimes and kind of step back and realize that it is a process. We don’t make excuses around here.
“What’s good is good and what’s bad is bad. We do think that there has to be a certain amount of time as you go forward here to absorb the many changes and adjustments and the communication skills that have to be utilized, because it is a foreign language to us as we began this. We’ll see. Hopefully it’s going to get here sooner than later.”
When they sat down for a TV roundtable this summer, Arians and Coughlin didn’t get into the potential struggles of installing a new offense. But when he watches Arizona’s offense take the field at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Coughlin will see proof that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Even though the offense stumbled in Week 1 against the Chargers, it’s still farther advanced than last season.
But Coughlin will need to learn to handle the bumps along the way.
“To learn it in a live game situation against new defenses every week, new coverages, new schemes, different players and all the things that come up during the season, it takes time, and not just an offseason,” Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer said during his conference call with New York reporters on Wednesday.
He added: “It took us four, five, six, seven, eight weeks until we were all on the same page and, for the most part, everybody was doing what he was supposed to be doing at the right time. You go through phases: eight guys doing it right and three doing it wrong, and then 10 guys doing it right.”
The proverbial light bulb didn’t go on for Arizona until Week 8 in a win over Atlanta. The next weekend was a bye and then Arizona won six of its final eight and nearly made the playoffs, all because the Cards had a better understanding of their new offense.
“That's when, all of a sudden, you could see the guys around [Palmer] start to get it and play faster and play better,” Arians said on his conference call with the New York media Wednesday. “Instead of waiting to see a guy come open, he was throwing [to] 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.”
Since Arians has already gone through what Coughlin is currently experiencing, he’s not jumping to conclusions about New York, and he’s certainly not judging Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
Last season, Manning led the NFC with 27 interceptions. Palmer was right behind with 22 -- 14 of which came in the first eight weeks when wide receivers were confused about formations and Palmer was forcing passes to players instead of letting the defense dictate who’s open. In comparison, he didn’t throw any in Week 1 this season.
Manning, however, has already thrown two in 2014 as he adjusts to learn the Giants’ new West Coast offense.
“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.”