Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer hasn't consistently found the rang on deep passes like he did a season ago.
Bruce Arians was blunt, and he did it with a smile: Defenses are doing nothing different this year to stunt the Cardinals' deep passing game than they have in the past.
"Every game, we're back there," Arians added. "We just ain't hitting them."
With the return of Carson Palmer from his concussion and the arrival of the deep-ball-challenged defense of the New York Jets Monday night, the Cards would seemingly have a good spot to get right. The Jets, who allowed a 72-yard TD pass over the top to Steelers wide receiver Sammie Coates last week, are giving up an astounding 9.2 yards per pass attempt this season.
(By comparison, the Cardinals surrender only 6.2 yards per pass attempt.)
"We're doing everything we can to get them down," Jets coach Todd Bowles said. "Obviously, it's not something we want to happen, but they've happened and we've got to deal with it."
It's not arm strength, Arians said. A few of Palmer's deep attempts have been underthrown, and Palmer needs to just throw them further down the field.
Finding a balance is crucial, both Arians and Palmer said. As Arians has emphasized before, every play has levels of options. Wide receiver struggles – in particular, Michael Floyd, who was a prime jump-ball threat last season – haven't helped.
"Yeah, there have been some that I've underthrown," Palmer said. "There's been some that they just played coverage and they were basically long throwaways. So, there's been a mix of reasons."
The Cardinals are 22nd in the NFL, averaging 6.7 yards per pass attempt. Last year, they lead the NFL with 8.5 yards per attempt, and they're not going to stop trying.
"They're going to attack downfield," Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis told New York reporters. "We understand that as a secondary and as a defense. Teams have been doing it, so we're definitely aware of that."
On the plus side, Arians said Palmer looked the best he had in practice since August, attributing the quarterback's sharpness to his rest. That could translate Monday
"We just hope this isn't the week (the Jets) figure it out," wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said.
IUPATI DOUBTFUL BUT A GAME-DAY DECISION
Guard Mike Iupati (ankle) still did not practice and is officially doubtful, but Arians called him a game-day decision for the Cardinals. If Iupati can't go, John Wetzel is slated to take his place. The Cardinals already knew they would have a backup right guard in with Earl Watford, since Evan Mathis was placed on injured reserve last weekend.
Defensive tackle Ed Stinson (toe) was also declared out. Everyone else is "ready to go," Arians said.
For the Jets, linebacker David Harris (hamstring) didn't practice and is doubtful. Revis (hamstring), center Nick Mangold (knee) and tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins (ankle) were all limited and are questionable.
NKEMDICHE "WASN'T AS GOOD"
After some optimism earlier in the week that defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche might be active for the first time since Week 1, Arians said the rookie's week of practice "wasn't as good as I was hoping."
Arians said Nkemdiche was appearing on the missed assignment sheet too often. As for his status against the Jets, Arians said "we'll see."
Past images of games between the Cardinals and this week's opponent, the New York Jets