The Arizona Cardinals broke their 11-game road losing streak yesterday with an unlikely win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The defense played with a new passion, while Larry Fitzgerald and the offense were able to put together a 4th quarter comeback that now has them at 3-6 on the season.
For the most part, the Cards played rather well against the Eagles. They limited their effectiveness on offense by keeping LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick contained and they scored just enough points to win the game. However,there were still some mishaps during the match. Let's take a look at five that I have picked out and see how they affected the game.
Kicker 'Feelying' The Pressure:
Jay Feely missed two field goals in the beginning of the game, which would have helped the Cardinals to take a somewhat comfortable 6-0 lead in the first quarter. The first kick was missed from 35 yards out, while the second was a bit further at 43 yards. Feely is now 8-13 on field goal attempts for the season.
Three point attempts are usually not good enough to beat explosive offenses, but missing those attempts entirely can be deadly. The Cardinals were luckily able to overcome those misses with big defensive stops, but Feely needs to start making these kicks.
Beanie looks like he is still hampered with his knee injury, as he was only able to tote the ball for 62 yards on 23 carries, an average of 2.7 yards per carry. Against one of the worst rushing defenses in the NFL, one would figure that Beanie would have been able to do more damage against the Eagles. On many plays, he was lucky to get back to the line of scrimmage.
That marks two weeks in a row that Beanie has faced off against a porous rushing defense and not been able to capitalize. He struggles making cuts that he normally would make and getting around the edge. Health is obviously the biggest factor in his slump, but he needs to keep playing aggressively due to the lack of talent behind him at the running back position.
In what seems to be one of the negatives every week, the offensive line was abused by the opposing defense yet again. They allowed starting quarterback John Skelton to be sacked four times on the day, along with numerous pressures that flushed him from the pocket.
Confusion and disarray is what sinks their chances of containing the defense more than anything. For example, a huge assignment was blown when Eagles DT Derek Landri was able to invade the Cardinals' backfield untouched by any member of the offensive line, pushing John Skelton to the ground for a sack. Whether or not they have the necessary skill is up for debate, but they at least need to get their acts together in terms of who they should be blocking.
Penalties yet again made this game closer than it should have been. The Cardinals tallied up seven penalties for 66 yards. This is not as many as they have racked up in the past, but the flags often came in big situations. For example, Richard Marshall was called for a defensive holding after Adrian Wilson picked off a Michael Vick pass in the end zone. From that, the Eagles went on to score a touchdown.
Arizona has all too often become their own worst enemy. Penalties kill drives and allow opponents to continue theirs. It's just another thing that this team really needs to improve upon.
Now it's time for some contention. I will say this once and once only: there is NO quarterback controversy. Kevin Kolb will be the starter when he is healthy again. Not only was he brought in to be the QB of the future, but Skelton honestly did not play all that well against Philly.
He completed just over 50% of his passes, completing 21 of his 40 attempts through the air. He was consistently overthrowing wide receivers throughout the game, especially in the first half. He had two interceptions on the game, but honestly, he should have had more if it weren't for some luck. Larry Fitzgerald made two catches off of already tipped balls and he officially receives the title of 'Skelton's Savior'. Outside of the second half of the fourth quarter, Skelton looked no better than a competent backup quarterback. The two interceptions he threw were straight to the opposing cornerbacks.
Can we rely upon that fourth quarter magic every week? My guess would be no. Skelton is much better than Tim Tebow, but I get a similar vibe when I watch the two. They both make numerous errors on the field, but they find ways to win games. The difference is that the Broncos don't have a reliable option outside of Tebow, whereas the Cardinals do. We'll see how it all pans out once Kolb is healthy again.
What do you think, fans? I am ready to hear your disagreements with my Skelton assessment, but that's just the way I feel. What can the Cardinals continue to improve upon to keep winning?