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Arians on fixing NFL's catch rule: Use 'common sense'

INDIANAPOLIS -- What's a catch?

Ever since Calvin Johnson became Patient Zero of the "process of the catch" rule, the qualifications for one of the sport's most basic acts has grown increasingly convoluted.

It has reached the point that players, coaches, owners and even officials fail to consistently grasp the nuances of the rule.

Speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians came up with an elemental solution:

"Common sense," Arians chirped. "It wasn't a big problem 10 years ago.

"Guy runs into the wall in the back of the end zone and drops the ball because he's about to break his neck, it's not a catch anymore. Two feet on the ground and possession of the ball should be a catch."

From Arians' lips to the competition committee's ears, please. We've now been reduced to begging, much like Dez Bryant.

Here's what else we learned from the candid Cardinals contingent Wednesday:

  1. Arians castigated the Dolphins for failing to understand they had a great coach when Todd Bowles held the interim tag back in 2011.

"Miami screwed it up a long time ago," Arians said. "He should have been the head coach there when he was the interim head coach. But brilliant young man, and he's a great teacher. It's not what you know. Can you teach it? And he can teach it."

  1. Asked about his biggest takeaway from the NFC Championship Game loss to the Panthers, Arians stated simply, "Play at home."

"Win one more game, two more games, whatever it takes to play at home," Arians added. "I still haven't figured out why we played so poorly. ... You grow as a team. Each year, you grow a little bit more."

  1. Arians was the quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis early in Peyton Manning's career. Regarding Manning's legacy, Arians offered, "The word G.O.A.T. has been thrown around and to me, he is. ... I think he's arguably the best that's ever played."
  1. Arians weighed in on the state of offensive line play, which has taken a downward turn around the league: "The athletes are much, much better, but the fundamentals are worse than they've ever been."
  1. Arians also weighed in on the state of NFL cornerbacks in the 21st century: "The corner position might be the most athletic position in all of sports. Josh (Norman), Patrick (Peterson), Richard (Sherman), Darrelle (Revis). They're all so athletic. Pat could be one of the best receivers in the league if he wanted to be."
  1. Arians conceded the Cardinals have discussed plans for life after Carson Palmer, who turned 36 years old late in the 2015 season. "We've talked about it a bunch," Arians said. "And whether or not we act on it, we'll see."

What will Arians look for in a young quarterback? He provided a hint: "The QB position is about one thing and that's processing information really fast."

  1. General manager Steve Keim offered penetrating insight into the traditional tight end, which is becoming an endangered species in today's NFL:

"...You don't talk about tight ends (anymore). You're looking at either a Y or an F, and that's the way we talk about them. You're either an inline guy who usually lacks the skill set to be a pass catcher. It's a tough overachiever that's physical at the point of attack. And then you have the guy who can flex and is essentially a big wide receiver. So the guy who can do it all generally doesn't exist anymore. There are a few guys that can do both, but very rare. And the perception around the league is when you see some of these tight ends that are great pass catchers people think they're functional in the run game, when you watch tape they're really not. You see guys at the point of attack having a very difficult time."

In that context, it's easy to understand why Arians thinks so highly of recently retired Heath Miller, who played under Arians for seven years in Pittsburgh.

"Everybody's looking for a Heath Miller, the all-around traditional tight end that can block, can catch," Arians raved. "But Heath Miller was more than a football player. He was a great teammate and even better man. The Steelers were so lucky to have had him for those years in their locker room because he's truly the glue of that organization. And you can't say enough things about the person. The player, you see that he's a great player. But the person is even better."

  1. Keim and Arians both spoke highly of second-year wide receiver J.J. Nelson.

"Oh man, there's no question," Keim said of Nelson's chances for a bigger role going forward. Keim added that a "scary fast" Nelson is speedier than deep threat John Brown.

"He's a dynamic young player," Arians added. "And as a rookie he just got better and better. If we can just get him up to 165 (pounds), I think we can get him on the field a little bit more.

  1. Keim acknowledged that Michael Floyd made "tremendous strides" in 2015, "not only from a skill-set standpoint but maturity-wise as well."

"His work ethic, his passion for the game, I think he took it to another level and I think you saw that in his play this year."

That said, Keim made it clear that "no deal is imminent" for Floyd as he enters a contract year.

  1. Chris Johnson recently expressed a desire to return to Arizona. The interest is mutual, per Keim.

"I don't know if there was a perception about Chris, but the one thing I would say is that he was a great teammate. He was a great person in our locker room," Keim said. "Chris is a guy that we'll look at and talk to his representatives this week."

  1. In other running back news, Keim emphasized the need for Andre Ellington to avoid injuries in 2016.

"Andre's a dynamic player. There's no doubt about that. But at the same time, it's no secret: He's got to stay healthy," Keim said. "And I've told Andre that personally. We love his skill set, but it's no secret that the guy has had durability problems. As an organization, you have expectations. And if a guy doesn't fulfill those expectations, you may have to move on. Hopefully Andre's not in a situation where we have to move on. I'd love to keep Andre long term, yet at the same time he's got to stay healthy. ... I don't know if he can (be a 20-25 touch back). Certainly David Johnson is a guy who came in and showed that he can do that."

  1. The Cardinals have left little doubt that David Johnson will be featured in their offense going forward. Arians told Around The NFL that Johnson has "a chance to be one of the all-time best" at his position.
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