Backup-turned-starting quarterback Drew Stanton already has a 2-1 record filling in for Carson Palmer as well as leading the Arizona Cardinals to a come-from-behind win over the St. Louis Rams.
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Next man up: Arians confident backup Stanton can take Cards from here
Stephen Hamway ~ Cronkite News~ 11/19/2014
TEMPE – In a season marked by injuries and the loss of a key player to suspension, Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has preached “next man up” as the team has raced to an 8-1 start.
With quarterback Carson Palmer lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee, Arians’ philosophy faces its greatest test yet with backup Drew Stanton lining up under center.
“Every guy in that room knows he’ll be ultimately prepared and very capable,” Arians said Monday.
Stanton has already gone 2-1 as a starter when Palmer went down wth a shoulder injury. With the Cardinals trailing the St. Louis Rams 14-10 Sunday, Stanton threw a 48-yard go-ahead touchdown to rookie wide receiver John Brown on just his third pass of the game and Arizona won 31-14.
Arians said Stanton has proven his ability to win.
“Everyone in the locker room has a lot of confidence in Drew, and you all should too by now,” Arians said.
And Stanton said he’s ready to take the team the rest of the way.
“Because of the circumstances it’s a little bit different this time around, but as far as my preparation goes, that doesn’t change,” he said.
It’s been a long road to this point for the 30-year-old Stanton. A second-round draft pick by the Detroit Lions in 2007, Stanton was never able to lock up the starting job, starting just four games in four years.
Arians and Stanton first worked together with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, with Stanton backing up Andrew Luck after taking first-team snaps in offseason organized team activities. Stanton credits the partnership with helping to turn his NFL career around.
“Those reps were invaluable to me, because I’d never gotten those reps,” Stanton said. “For me to be able to see the offense unfold before my eyes, you can’t replace that.”
For his part, Arians said he saw enough from Stanton that he brought him to Arizona when he took the head coaching position in 2013.
“I just loved the way he prepared,” Arians said.
Stanton said that in addition to his tumultuous week on the field he and his wife, Kirsten, are expecting a child who was due last Wednesday.
“We’re still on pins and needles,” he said. “When the baby’s ready to come out, it’ll come out, as stubborn as it’s being right now.”
While the team’s goal of becoming the first to play in a Super Bowl in its home stadium got more onerous with the loss of Palmer, there is precedent for success with a backup quarterback.
Four teams have made the Super Bowl with a quarterback who was not their starter going into the season since 2000, with the Colin Kaepernick and the 2012 49ers being the most recent occurrence.
“One of the best assets of this team is that we don’t look ahead, we don’t look behind,” Stanton said. “We can sit there and feel sorry for ourselves if we want to, but no one else is going to.”
One of Stanton’s biggest advocates is Palmer, the man he’s replacing in the huddle.
“I’m going to do everything I can in the quarterback room to help Drew out,” Palmer said. “You want to help, but you don’t want to get in the way.”
For all of his confidence in Stanton’s abilities, Arians added that there was one particular facet of his game that he would have to improve: avoiding big hits while on the move.
“We’re going to have to get him to slide a little better,” he said.
The Cardinals have lost five starters on a defense that was ranked sixth in the league in yards allowed in 2013. Inside linebackers Daryl Washington and Karlos Dansby were lost to suspension and free agency, respectively, and defensive ends Darnell Dockett and Matt Shaughnessy as well as outside linebacker John Abraham were put on injured reserve earlier this season.
Arians said the loss of the Cardinals’ starting quarterback is just one more test for a team that has dealt with plenty this season.
“It’s another bump in the road, and it’s been a bumpy-ass road,” Arians said. “I’d like to get the potholes fixed. But nothing’s changed as far as our goals or anyone’s attitude.”