They may be 0-2 and might have changed offensive coordinators, but when it comes to playing against a Rex Ryan-coached defense as the Arizona Cardinals will this Sunday when they meet the Buffalo Bills, Carson Palmer knows the only thing you can expect is the unexpected.
“Very well-coached defenses,” the Cardinals quarterback said. “A lot of different looks, a lot of different coverages. But you've got to be ready for Cover Zero all over the field. On first down, second down, backed up, red zone, midfield, fringe, all that.”
What's more concerning to the 1-1 Cardinals, Palmer said, is that the Bills are a desperate team.
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“Their backs are against the wall and we are prepared and we've got to be prepared for as much as possible,” he said. “You can't ever be prepared for everything, especially with Coach Ryan, but you've got to go into these games expecting anything. When a team is in the situation they're in, where they're trying to get their first win and they've got a little turmoil going on with coaches and stuff like that, their back are against the wall and we've got to be prepared for that.”
The Bills fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman after their loss last week to the Jets and promoted Anthony Lynn to take his spot. The game plan figures to be simplified a tad this week, but quarterback Tyrod Taylor said Buffalo will pick up the tempo when they have the ball.
“That's definitely something we've been putting a focus on throughout the week, just trying to get in and out and put pressure on the defense,” Taylor said. “We've got a lot of talented guys on the offense and we want to get them the ball, but I think the main thing is the tempo.”
Taylor said he's curious to see what kind of looks the Cardinals' defense will give them, adding that whatever looks they see, it isn't going to be easy.
“They've got playmakers across the board,” he said. “Up front, their secondary, at linebacker. It's a very fast defense and they play sound football. We'll definitely have to bring our A-game to make plays against those guys.”
Buffalo's running game, which ranked first in the league a year ago, has struggled to gain yards. It ranks 24th overall after two games. The offense ranks 31st in percentage of three-and-out series and is 29th in third-down conversion rate.
“Obviously, we are extremely disappointed where we're at, 0-2,” Ryan said. “We didn't expect to be in this situation right now. … It's not like we're hanging our heads. We just know we have to get better and we have to get better in a hurry.
“It's two games. We've been beat by six points in both games. I get it. It's not where you want it to be, but there's a lot of football left to be played, win, lose or draw.”
Despite blowing out the Buccaneers 40-7 last week, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians wasn't very happy with his team. He publicly criticized several of his players and said, among other things, “we can be a (heck) of a lot better.”
One thing Arians demands perfection out of is his offense when it goes into its no-huddle packages, which the Cardinals are expected to use a lot early and often at New Era Field. It hasn't been good the first two weeks against the Patriots or the Buccaneers, but especially last week against Tampa.
“Fewer lack of communications,” Arians said. “We had, in the first five plays, three guys that didn't handle it very well. Whereas when we were on the road in Houston (during the preseason), we handed it beautifully. Again, we've got some young guys that get way too hyped up for games. They have to settle down and start the games better and we have to communicate better.”
As for the Bills, Ryan insists it's far too early to panic. He said he isn't concerned about his job security and added the decision to let go of Roman was made with the best of intentions and that the Bills will be better for it moving forward.
“And that's not a slight on Greg Roman,” Ryan said. “Greg Roman's a tremendous coach. But for us at this time, that was what we felt would help our football team.”
What also will help, Ryan said, is hoping Palmer has an “off day.”
“We're hoping for an off day. That's pretty much it,” Ryan said. “It's not a very comforting thought going into a game thinking that, 'Hey, this kid, we need him to have an off day, but that's kind of where he is. He's such a talent, always been a talent, and especially with his core of receivers and things and this offensive line. This is a heck of a task in front of us.”