Well, it's looking like the Arizona Cardinals really want to make a statement. They really want in on the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. They made their case yesterday, losing to the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 34-10.
The now 1-4 Vikings handled Arizona throughout the day in every phase of the game. With the Cardinals now headed into their bye week, the team has a lot to think about and even more to work on if they hope to turn this season around.
Let's take a look at five of the problems they encountered yesterday and see if the team will be able to work around them when they face the Steelers almost two weeks from now.
Kevin Kolb had four passes (by my count, feel free to correct me) that were tipped at the line of scrimmage. One of them happened to be intercepted by Vikings CB, Asher Allen, which set up the Vikings' second score. Kolb was staring receivers down all day and the linemen were able to read his eyes with ease, so that's something that he will need to work on.
It never hurts to throw a pump fake in their every once in awhile either. Kolb should look into his arm angle and see if that is the problem. If these tipped passes become a trend, Kolb's interception rate will skyrocket.
First Quarter Woes:
Well, yesterday's game was basically wrapped up half way through the first quarter. Minnesota scored 28 of their 34 total points in the first period. In fact, they had all those points with almost three minutes to go. Timely turnovers and explosive running from Adrian Peterson helped the Vikes manhandle the Cards and they were able to gain a lead that not even they could squander.
The team is still working on getting comfortable in the offense, but turning the ball over is a killer. Special teams also came into play when Ben Graham had a couple of line drive punts that resulted in good field position for Minnesota. When the Cardinals get behind, they are forced to throw the ball more than they would like to and the lack of balance in their offense allowed Jared Allen and Brian Robison to have a field day. This game was almost over before it even started.
The Run Game
Beanie Wells was able to average 5.1 yards per carry last week against the Giants, but against the Vikings he could only rack up three yards per carry. On the other side, Adrian Peterson ate up the Cardinals defense. He ran the ball 29 times for 122 yards and three touchdowns. His average was around 4.2 yards/carry, but that comes after some late game runs that were used to eat up the clock.
Given the struggles Donovan McNabb has had this season, it would have made sense for the Cardinals to gameplan for Peterson a little better. Let an inaccurate passer beat you, not an All-Pro running back. For Wells, the line wasn't able to open up many gaps for him and as a result, his longest run of the day was a porous 9 yards. It didn't help that the offensive line had a couple of new guys mixed in this week.
A Case Of The Drops:
When your playmakers are dropping balls, it's going to be a long game. Both on offense and on defense, the Cardinals players needed some sticky glue because they were not able to hold on to anything. Rookie Rob Housler had two drops, Early Doucet had at least one and even the master of the catch, Larry Fitzgerald, had a drop in the beginning of the game.
On the defensive side, A.J. Jefferson couldn't hold on to a surefire pick six. Other defensive backs were able to get their hands on some passes that could have been possibly intercepted as well. Creating opportunities for your team by capitalizing on the opponent's mistakes is what good teams do. Arizona will need to work out those kinks first and foremost because if people can't catch, your missing a big portion of what football is about.
This may have been one of the worst days for injuries so far this season. Todd Heap was already out with a hamstring injury and punter Dave Zastudil (who would have helped tremendously) was out with a knee sore. During the game, the Cards lost two more starters. Guard Daryn Colledge sustained a concussion and did not exit the locker room for the second half. Even earlier in the game, safety Kerry Rhodes left the game and was promptly replaced by Rashad Johnson.
The offensive line is already in shambles and adding D'Anthony Batiste to take over at guard was even worse. There was no continuity on the front and it showed with Kolb being sacked four times and pressured throughout the game. On the back end, the loss of Kerry Rhodes could hurt. Kent Somers said the news was, "not good," via Twitter. Rhodes will undergo an MRI today and he'll be re-evaluated. There is no news as to what the injury is as of this time.
This loss was absolutely demoralizing, but what do you think, fans? What were the worst parts of this game for you? What do the Cardinals need to do in order to make this some semblance of a season?