With 7:28 left in the 2nd quarter of yesterday's game, Julius Peppers picks off a would-be Kurt Warner pass and runs it in 13 yards for the touchdown. That play alone should sum up the entire game. The Cardinals offense, widely due to Kurt Warner's 6 turnovers, seemed to blow every opportunity they had. The defense held its own in the second half, while the offense couldn't do much despite being down by only 10 at one point in the 4th quarter. The running game had it's moments but the Cardinals were forced to abandon any thought of handing off the ball and put the load on Kurt Warner's shoulders. That, was not a good idea and the Cardinals paid for it once the clock hit 0:00. The Cardinals offense needs an identity, which is an unusual thing to say considering the type of team this has been the last 2-3 seasons. Here's an evaluation and a grade for the offense for the way I see it.
Kurt Warner: If Warner was ever going to have a horrible game this season, he picked a bad time to do it. The Cardinals weren't in dire need of a win, but could have taken a stranglehold on the NFC West with the 49ers losing in Indianapolis. Despite throwing 46 passes, Warner only threw for 242 yards, which can widely be blamed on 6 turnovers. Warner will need to fix whatever problems he's having so far this year if the Cardinals want to improve to the offense they had last year. He'll also need to open up and have faith in his two pro bowl wide receivers.
Running Backs: Not a lot can be blamed on the running backs as they surprisingly had a good game. Beanie Wells rushed for 47 yards on 8 carries, while Tim Hightower had 8 carries for 39 yards and a score. Had the Cardinals not trailed by 21 points so early, we might have seen an even better rushing performance.
Wide Receivers: Tim Hightower led the team with 8 catches, which says something about his receiving skills, but shouldn't be a positive note. Warner has consistently checked down the ball when opposing teams stack more defenders in coverage this season. Teams were able to do this throughout the playoffs, yet the Cardinals overcame it, and aired the ball out. That tells me that Kurt Warner isn't the same as he was a year ago, or Todd Haley is a very good offensive coordinator. Either way, receivers played no role in this game.
Offensive Line: The offensive line continues to improve, but also shows why we all worry when facing talented defensive ends. Levi Brown hasn't been able to establish himself has a 1st round draft pick, and he may never show it. The rushing lanes were also there for the time they ran the ball. Aside from the 2 sacks allowed, Kurt Warner was given a good amount of time in the pocket considering they faced Julius Peppers and Charles Johnson.
Offensive Grade: F
The Cardinals receive an F for two reasons - turnovers and lack of production. The turnovers were the main fault, because when you hand the ball to the Panthers six times, you can never expect to win a game. The lack of production stems from turnovers, but when the Cardinals were driving the ball, the check-down passes hurt them and kept them from converting key third downs. If the Cardinals want to make a run later in the season, the offense will need to develop a more consistent base of chemistry. What grade did you give the Cardinals offense and why?