Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer talks with quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich before practice this week. Leftwich will call plays Saturday, which will be Palmer's preseason debut.
Calling the plays for the Cardinals Saturday night won’t be coach Bruce Arians or even offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin. It’ll be quarterbacks coach Byron Leftwich, whom quarterback Carson Palmer had to google the other day to find out was – surprisingly -- younger than him.
It doesn’t change what Palmer and the Cardinals’ first-team offense wants to accomplish in their first preseason work.
“You’re only going to get a certain amount of plays and you want to maximize those plays,” Palmer said
Wednesday. “You don’t need to go out and have seven plays for 180 yards of offense. You want to go out and be efficient.”
That wasn’t what the Cardinals got from the preseason last year. Palmer led seven exhibition drives in 2016. His first – also against the Raiders – generated a field-long march to the Oakland 8 before the Cardinals had to settle for a field goal.
The other six, over the next two games against the Chargers and Texans, produced one touchdown march (75 yards) but three interceptions (including two returned for touchdowns) and two three-and-outs.
It’s arguable about how much it hurt once the regular season went. The Cardinals did enough on offense where they should have beaten the Patriots in the opener, and they scored 40 against the Buccaneers in the first two games. But the preseason possessions for the first team couldn’t have helped the confidence.
Third-string QB Blaine Gabbert led the Cardinals to touchdowns in the first two possessions in the Hall of
Fame game last week.
“I’d love to see what our offense did last week – take the ball down on a really good drive and score points,” coach Bruce Arians said. “The last thing you want to see is three-and-out, three-and-out. It’s an excellent defense (for the Raiders), a different style than the defense we see in practice.”
That Palmer will be hearing from Leftwich is an interesting development. Leftwich was a coaching intern last season and is in his first season as a full-time coach. But Arians likes prepping younger coaches for the future, and this is a chance to help Leftwich.
Leftwich and Arians see the game similarly, Palmer said. Besides, he added, the Cardinals will have the same set of plays from which to choose.
“He doesn’t have a lot of experience calling plays but just his knowledge of the offense, his knowledge of being the guy who hears it in his headset will serve him,” Palmer said.
Regardless of who is calling the plays on the sideline, it’s the job of Palmer and the offense to make it work. The result doesn’t always have to be a touchdown, but more consistency is necessary.
“Sometimes when you are backed up, sometimes the best thing to do is change field position, not to go for 99 yards,” Palmer said. “These preseason games you want to maximize those opportunities without being greedy and without playing outside of the system.”
Images from the 13th practice of #CardsCamp