There’s a chance in the next 12 games for the Arizona Cardinals offense to meet expectations. Of course, the Cardinals hope that comes much sooner than later.
Count tight end Dan Arnold as a player who believes Arizona can meet that high bar after two promising wins were followed by a pair of dull losses to losing teams. To do so, he thinks taking individual accountability can help players do more for their teammates.
The tight end gave a blunt assessment Tuesday when asked why things haven’t gone swimmingly of late. Why has the Cardinals’ high energy offense seemed anything but?
“I think one of the things that is keeping us away from that is some of it has to do with focus throughout the week in practice,” he said. “I think that’s something all of us know — we’ve addressed.
“It’s one of those things where it’s not easy and some people are just going to have to have a gut check, myself included. I’m playing a lot more than I have in the past. It’s easy to get distracted sometimes. You have to keep pushing through.”
Arnold entered 2020 with quite the hype. He was clearly in the mix to take on a larger role after finishing the final three games of 2019 with two touchdown catches and 102 yards for Arizona after being acquired off the waiver wire.
His production hasn’t wavered too much, as he’s caught nine balls for 97 yards so far this season. But Arnold is owning that he’s far from perfect.
Against the Carolina Panthers in a 31-21 loss, he and fellow tight end Darrell Daniels struggled at times with run blocking.
Arnold, upon taking on his biggest role as an NFL player, has mentally attempted to stay even-keeled during games. The 25-year-old said Tuesday that the team has missed veteran tight end Maxx Williams, and the two youngsters have to improve.
“I think there’s still so much left in the tank for me,” Arnold said. “Like I said, it really just comes down on focusing on different looks you’re going to get and understanding the game more deeply. I think once I’ve kind of figured out what I’m capable of and know how to use my body and what I need to do in the run game, I think I can really start to progress.”
And Arnold is relatively young. He played collegiately at UW-Platteville. With the New Orleans Saints and then the Cardinals, he has played in one fewer combined games than second-year quarterback Kyler Murray’s 20 despite this being Arnold’s fourth NFL season.
Arnold said communication with the offensive line and even between he and Daniels can improve. That goes in concert with knowing defensive looks and how to attack them with blocks.
At least he and Daniels have gotten lots of experience in a 2-2 start with more opportunities for learning to come.
Williams, who has been out since Week 1, is expected to remain sidelined until around the Week 8 bye, and the Cardinals have used 12 personnel at the second-highest rate (30%) in the NFL.
“Me and Darrell are pretty young players who don’t have a ton of experience and I think we’ve done a good job so far, but there’s so much growth that needs to happen,” Arnold said.
“We’ve had these hiccups, we’ve had these learning and teaching moments throughout these past four games … I think it’s really going to help us be successful in the next coming games. As much as it sucks, I think it was something we really did need.”
The same can probably be said for the rest of the Cardinals offense.