Who would have thought at this point in the season, that the Super Bowl teams from last year (Cardinals and Steelers) would start the 2009 season 1-2. The difference between the two is that the Steelers have barely lost their two games, while the Cardinals have been embarrassed in theirs. This is something that can't happen on a weekly basis, and most definitely should not be happening at home. If the Cards want to even think about going to the playoffs this year, they are going to have to fix the problems that they've been experiencing so far this year.
The Good (Not a whole lot of Good out of this game for the Cards)
- Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and Anquan Boldin: These three receivers brought their game on Sunday night, by combining for 20 catches, 253 yards(12.65YPC), and 1 touchdown. There would have had even more yards and tds, if Warner had not overthrown them on certain plays, and if the offensive line had given Warner more time to throw(is this deja-vu from week one?). If anything, the receiving unit cannot be blamed for the loss.
- Ben Graham: The Cardinals Australian punter continues to pan out to be a very good acquisition from late last year for the special teams unit. He continues to kick the ball deep, to pin opponents within their own 20 yard line. His hang time has improved, giving his teammates the time needed to get down the field to make sure the opponent has no where to run the ball.
- Penalties: The team had just 5 penalties for 35 yards but some of them brought back important plays. Fitz had a catch in the third quarter on third and sixth for nine yards that was called back because of the holding call on Mike Gandy. Another holding call, this time on Levi Brown, on third and fifth, brought back a first down pass to Breaston for eight yards. There was also a delay of game penalty in the fourth quarter that was unnecessary. These are inexcusable at home, even if your are getting killed. These drive killing penalties have to be a top priority for Ken Whisenhunt.
The Ugly: (Where to Start...)
- Kurt Warner: Do not let his 332 yard game fool you, those yards are a product of 52 passes. Warner's problem, much like his week one problem, was that he did not have the protection to throw well. He still made some head scratching decisions with or without great protection. The most notable bad decision, was the first and one pass that was picked off right before the half.That alone could have given us some momentum going into the locker room. Another bad decision came in the fourth quarter, when he got sacked for a loss of 28 yards on fourth down. Warner finished the night with 2 interceptions and one fumble (not lost). Warner is the key to success for this team and he has to stop having games like this.
- The defense: The defense played like they played against the Packers in week three of the preseason. They had too many blown coverages, failed to get pressure on Peyton Manning, and couldn't stop the run. They looked like that D from 2008 that would play good one week, and then would get blown to pieces the next. This is something that needs to be fixed fast, if they want to ever be considered an elite team in the league, although an elite level might be a stretch to even mention at this point.
- Offensive Line: This unit allowed four sacks on the evening, and allowed Warner to be hit on just about every play. This unit looks nothing like the unit from last season, that seemed to give Warner just the amount of time needed to get the pass off for a completion. They now give Warner just enough time to either throw the ball away, throw an interception, or get sacked. This unit can play better and has to play better. A change in the startering unit might be warranted soon however, maybe moving Levi Brown to guard, or giving Brandon Keith a chance at right tackle.
- Running Game: It really isn't fair to say the running backs were ugly as they only had 12 carries, but those 12 carries were ugly. They only managed to get 24 yards, which is a measly 2 yards per carry. Part of this problem again goes towards the blocking of the offensive line, and the fact that they did not get enough carries to really get going. They still they have to do better with the chances they get though. Tim Hightower had one of the most important plays and momentum swings in this game. He lost a fumble in the red zone that led to the Colts getting a 7-3 swing, in what most likely would have been a 10-0 lead for the Cards. After that play, the Cards just couldn't get back in sync with each other. The fumbles by this unit have got to stop, period.
Games like this are nothing new for the Cards, as they played like this at times last year, although they hoped they had alleviated those problems. They have to get these problems sorted out fast, as there are only 16 games in a season, and there's not a lot of time to spend on reinventing a style of play during the season. Most of us thought having a bye week in week four would be bad, but it couldn't come at a better time. Can the Cardinals fix the problems that have plagued them in week one and week three? Are these problems here to stay and are we looking at a long season ahead?