Well, that was no fun.
In what many believed might have been the easiest game the Cardinals have played thus far, Arizona came out looking completely flat on offense and fell to the St. Louis Rams on national TV. The 17-3 defeat puts the Cards at 4-1, so by no means is the whole season ruined now, but Arizona will need to fix some things if they want to shed the "pretender" tag. Here are five negatives that they can work on in the next ten days before they play the Bills.
1. Offensive Line
This was obviously the biggest issue for the Cardinals. The offensive line was absolutely horrendous, probably the worst I have ever seen them play. They allowed 9 sacks, 13 hits, 21 hurries and 13 knockdowns on Kevin Kolb. It is a wonder how he made it out of the game without a few broken bones. The camera panned to him in the second quarter showing his mouth with blood coming out. The tackles were awful as they were last week, but it seemed that the whole line struggled mightily.
The guards failed to get any push in the run game and Adam Snyder allowed pressure in pass protection as well. Chris Long and Robert Quinn teed off against this unit and I think it is suffice to say that the coaching staff did little in the way of helping them in protection. Placing some extra blockers back there or calling plays, such as a draw, to slow the rush would have been nice. Even when they did, the runs often went for negative yards. In fact, only 17 running plays were called, as opposed to over 50 passes. Pretty lopsided if you ask me.
Don't go thinking the Rams are otherworldly pass rushers, either. Sure, they are very talented, but they had only recorded six total sacks in the first four games coming in to Thursday night. I think that stat truly tells it all. Oh, and when your guard (Snyder) tackles your running back for a loss, you know there is something wrong. Time for Russ Grimm to hit the road.
If Danny Amendola wouldn't have left the game early with a broken collarbone, it might have gotten uglier than it already was. Patrick Peterson has looked human the past couple of weeks (aside from his great interception in the end zone). On the first drive, he gave up two huge passes leading to a Rams touchdown. Greg Toler was average at best filling in for William Gay as a starter. His "injury" occurred at a very opportune time, right after Chris Givens burnt him down the field and he could recover. The coverage has been awful and the safeties were nearly invisible throughout the game.
3. Run Defense
Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson, while being limited for the most part in the first half, decided to go off on the Cardinals defense in the second half. While the Cardinals looked content in letting Ryan Tannehill beat them last week while stopping Reggie Bush, they let everyone beat them this week. Jackson's 18 rushes for 76 yards were magnified by his key runs. He moved the chains, pulled players with him down the field and made the defense look downright silly at times.
4. Play Calling
This was perhaps the worst part of the game. When the offensive line is struggling as it was, why not call plays that get the ball out of Kolb's hands as soon as possible? They ran a few screens, but with the gains they were getting, why not run more of them? That way, when the defense begins to accommodate to being gashed for 10+ yards every time, your offensive line can get their footing back. Instead, the Cardinals continued to run Ryan Williams into a wall and try and hit Larry Fitzgerald on deep crossing routes. It rarely worked and when it did, it was because Kolb made a play of it by running out of the pocket. It all came to fruition when, at the end of the game, the Cardinals had 4th and goal and the play was to throw the ball to Fitzgerald at about the 5 yard line in the hopes that he could run it in. Yeah, that worked out well.
Reggie Walker left the game in the first half after taking a blow to the head. I missed the play on the television broadcast, but let's hope it isn't too severe.
Then, in a part of the game I did see, Ryan Williams got rocked with a blow to the head as well. Although it was completely legal, it was vicious. He did not come back. Let's hope he is a go for the Bills game, otherwise the Cardinals RB stable is looking very thin.
Notice that I didn't put Kolb on here. Sure, he missed plenty of plays and could perhaps be a negative, but no quarterback can be good behind that offensive line. None. I admire him for staying in the game, to be honest.
What were your negatives? Are you as bewildered by this huge loss as I am? Tell us in the comments section below.