Bruce Arians is studying Eli Manning for his game against the Giants in Week 2. He won't start forming an opinion on Manning until much later in the season.
"I've never tried to judge a quarterback in a new offense until Week 8," Arians said on a conference call Wednesday.
The coach of the Cardinals said it can take half a season for a veteran quarterback like Manning to get adjusted to a new offense. Arians knows because he went through a similar learning curve last year.
"I don't think there's any doubt," he said of Manning's showing growing pains. "It's very hard for someone to change after you've been in a system. I did this with Carson [Palmer] last year. He had been in the same system pretty much nine years. He has ideas that you're trying to reprogram. It's much easier getting a rookie and brainwashing him than it is to take a vet and change him totally into a new system."
So, when does it start to click?
"It was Week 8 for us last year, and then all of a sudden you could see the guys around him start to get it and play faster and play better," Arians said.
"Instead of waiting to see a guy come open, he was throwing guys open. When you're waiting to see a guy come open, you're going to throw interceptions because your eyes are there too soon and too long. When you can throw the ball on time, trust the receiver is going to be there, everything happens a second or a second and a half faster. That's a lot of time when you're talking about the passing game."
Palmer, in his second season with the Cardinals, said there is no specific time frame for learning a new system. "There is no exact date where, boom, you got it," he said. "It just takes time, and when you got it, you got it."
It's hard to imagine the Giants surviving eight weeks of the kind of play that the offense showed Monday night. For one thing, Manning may not make it that far physically, considering the pounding he took against the Lions. Following last year's 0-6 start that sunk the season while it was still in dry dock, patience is not at an all-time high surrounding the franchise.
"You have to weather the storm and learn from the mistakes and file away the positives and the good things that happen," Palmer said. "It just takes time and it takes repetition, and you have to go through all of those things to really get to a certain comfort level where you can go out and execute on a consistent basis."
Arians and Palmer said the lack of variation in defensive looks during OTAs and training camp and the limited snaps against live opponents in the preseason make it impossible to digest an offense in an offseason. Once the quarterback does get a feel for the new system, though, Arians said the improvement is tremendous.
"I used the analogy, it's like taking an eighth-grader and putting him back in first grade," Arians said of Palmer's aptitude this season.
This is the first time Manning has had to learn a new system. Well, the second. He was with the first for 10 seasons. Palmer said every quarterback in the league empathizes with other passers who are trying to adapt to a new system.
"I definitely know where he's been," Palmer said. "Everybody goes through it."