Arizona Cardinals Midway Grades from the ROTB Staff

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The ROTB staff tackles the midway grades of the Cardinals unit.

Michael Oliver:

Quarterback: D+

Carson Palmer has not lived up to our expectations of him, which we not high to begin with. Despite the 4-4 record entering the bye week, he has not masterminded them. Too many turnovers have proved costly in vital situations. His arm is flagging, with many off--target balls. He needs to step it up if we are to make a play-off push.

Running Backs: C

Rashard Mendenhall has been mediocre and Bruce Arians' stubborn attitude towards a change in starter is beginning to pee me off a little. With limited touches, Andre Ellington has proven to be a dynamic play-maker both as a receiver and rusher. On the whole, the running game has been average at best.


Wide Receivers: C

Poor quarterback play has not made their task easier, the receivers are not producing on a week to week basis. A few splash plays here and there have made it bearable, but Michael Floyd, who I expected to be a more prominent part, hasn't made the leap yet.


Tight End: E-

A group devoid of talent, suck on a regular basis.


Offensive Line: C-

A marginal improvement on last years shambles. The loss of Jonathan Cooper in pre-season was huge, and the trading of Levi Brown makes the LT situation just terrible, but this is a unit playing for next season in terms of major improvement.


Defensive Line: B-

A group which is applying pressure on a regular basis without making too many plays. Alameda Ta'amu has been an inspired find on the waiver wire with his impressive play.


Linebackers: A-

Key losses especially on the outside to Acho and Alexander early on, the unit has held up well. Zero production from second-round pick Kevin Minter is disappointing, but the revival of Karlos Dansby playing at an All-Pro level, and Daryl Washington being the stud he is, have created a formidable duo.


Secondary: B-

Safety has been the major issue. Yeremiah Bell in-particular has had some poor weeks, but the steal of the draft in Tyrann Mathieu is proving to be a true play-maker on every down. Patrick Peterson is again proving he can be a lock-down corner, and despite injuries, they have defended well.

Red C:

Quarterbacks: F

As bad as Palmer has been, at least at times, the idea that his back-up isn’t any better should be EXTREMELY worrying. Team needs another option.


Running Backs: C

Would be lower but Ellington saves it. Errors in pass protection, protecting the ball, and controlling the clock, hurt a group that hasn’t produced anything outside of one player.


Wide Receivers:
B

Someone is open on just about every play, but Palmer locks on to his first read too often and misses it. Drops have improved from last year.

Fitz hasn’t looked like the player we all remember but he’s been good for someone with two bad hamstrings. Floyd has made good on his chances but Roberts is a disappointment. The unknowns have helped outt.


Tight Ends:
F

Dray forgot how to block but has been catching everything that’s come his way, while a good game for Housler qualifies as one in which he doesn’t appear to be doing his best Keanu Reeves impression (lost and confused). No apparent talent anywhere in this group.


Offensive Line: F

This is a league-worst unit that will return AT MOST two starters next year... if we're lucky.


Defensive Line: B

Campbell obviously anchors this group but Dockett has upped his play and Williams/Ta’amu have done a decent job at NT. Little more consistency and this would be an A.


Linebackers: A

Washington & Dansby one of the best ILB duos in the league, Shaughnessy has done an excellent job in a role he’s probably not quite suited for and Abraham has gotten it going the last couple weeks. Brinkley, Benard and Moch have been productive depth options.


Cornerbacks: D

Peterson has been a mixed bag, hasn’t shown the consistency you’d expect from a player some people suggest is the best at his position. Everyone else has been terrible.


Safety: C

Tyrann Mathieu is an elite player -- not "he’s going to be," he is. As much as Bell is the whipping boy for the defense’s struggles with TE’s, he’s been very good in run support. RJ’s injury is more notable than his play.


Special Teams: A


D.L. Parsons:

Quarterback: D-

Palmer is not the "savior" he was promoted as. Cards will still need to draft a QB in the first round in the 2014 Draft. As a stopgap, Palmer is OK. His accuracy is way better than the Kolb-Lindley-Skelton-Hoyer cluster put out there last year. A combination of an overly complicated system, slow uptake of the system, and a rotating carousel of mental errors on nearly every play has impacted the entire season.


Running Backs: C-

Mendenhall has been atrocious, frankly. He doesn't hit holes with ferocity, and when he cherry-picks, looking for daylight, he looks even worse. The Head Playcaller's stubbornness to change out "his guy" for a statistically proven performer is maddening. Especially when a change forced by injuries in the latest game proved everyone's point.This grade is impacted and shared 50% by the Head Coach.


Tight Ends: F

As a group, they can't catch, can barely block well, and are wasting space on the roster. Wide receivers are blocking better than this group.


Wide Receivers: C-

This grade is impacted by the QB and the O-line. If Palmer could get 2 seconds more per passing play, the WR's could get into position to make a catch. If they knew what play was called...


Offensive Line: C-

Somewhat better than last years' group, though we are mystifyingly missing two players who could make an impact (Massie and Potter). We got rid of everyone's favorite scapegoat, Levi Brown, and his replacement isn't even keeping up with HIS sorry record. Cards should trade for the Dolphins' OT Martin. Winston has demonstrated why KC showed him the door. The loss of Cooper was a giant blow to the O-lines' continued improvement as a group. A tackle or two should be drafted early in the 2014 Draft.


Defensive Line: B

The release of David Carter is proving Karmic, isn't it? In the first three games, Dockett's name was only mentioned when a penalty was called.


Williams was nearly invisible. However, this group has recovered, with a vengeance. For the last three games, Dockett has reverted to Beast Mode. Campbell is just Superman, as usual. Ta'amu has been good, but Carter would have been better.


Linebackers: A+

With the losses of Acho, Alexander, and others, this unit never quit charging forward. Outstanding play by Karlos Dansby, and also by his ILB pal Washington, have been the heart of the defensive effort thus far. And they will for the rest of this season. Dansby should be given a raise and re-signed for the rest of his playing life. Tight ends give them trouble, but what linebacking duo hasn't had trouble with TE's this year? The backup LB's i.e., Dontay Moch, etc, have stepped up to the challenge well, also.


Corners and Safeties: C

Yeremiah Bell is going to be tagged with the "Toast" moniker, because he's been repeatedly burned over the last eight games. Cason and Powers have been marginally better. Peterson has again proven why he is one of the best corners in the league, especially when opposing QBs won't throw his way. Tyrann Mathieu has been a steal, and just makes big play after big play. Cards need to swallow their pride and re-sign the best safety on the street, Kerry Rhodes. He was a model citizen here. Forget about his private life. the man can still play. Adding him to the defense would instantly raise my grade an entire percentage point.


Special Teams: B+

Thank goodness for Zastudil and Feely. Zastudil regularly flips the field for the defense, pinning opposing offenses deep in their own side of the field. Feely is on a roll, too. Too bad the Head Coach had such a hissy-fit when Feely missed a FG in a preseason game. No one is perfect, dude. No one on the street is better than Feely right now. Perhaps a youngster out of college next year will be. My money is on Feely playing for as long as he thinks he can help a team. Return teams have kept opposing teams' return yardage to a minimum. But they aren't helping Peterson break loose for a big run. Peterson hasn't gotten around a corner in so long...

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Robert Norman:

Quarterbacks: C-

It's true Carson Palmer has not been the quarterback the team was really expecting. But he's taking a lot of heat over fans inflated expectations. Consider during the offseason he by all measures was going to be the third best quarterback in the NFC and the oldest by almost a whole decade. There are no excuses for throwing so many forced passes and interceptions, but when I think about the last three seasons QB crop compared to this year it puts the position in perspective.


Running Backs: B

Mendenhall has lost his explosiveness, but even then he has his moments. However, for the rest of the position it looks like the team has found two solid players in Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington (is his nickname just "Juke" or "Juke of Ellington," I prefer the latter). Both are proving themselves especially after last week. And if you consider most teams carry, at most, four running backs having two late round rookies ballin' it up means the group deserves some praise.


Wide Receivers: C+

Don't get me started. This position has been getting way to many passes, both literally and metaphorically. Floyd is the only player I have like this year. The rest get exchanged weekly because they can't solidify their roster spot. Frankly, my frustration stems from the apathy, this includes Fitz. Yes, Palmer is the most accurate, but he's constantly playing against some of the best pass rushers in the league. They need to step up and fight for the football. Newsflash, Palmer is not Derek Anderson, Ryan Lindley, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb or Max Hall. Start helping the man out.


Tight Ends: F

It's bad when my favorite tight end is Jim Dray and he has led to at least two interceptions because he ran the wrong route. This group has been disgustingly bad as pass catchers and only slightly better in pass protection. So much for Housler breaking out this season. I doubt he's ever going to break out.


Offensive Line: D

The group has improved over last season and may have actually morphed into a decent front if Cooper had been able to stay healthy. My hope is that Massie proves himself on the right side of the line and can show his second half surge in 2012 wasn't a farce. This group needs at least one or two more drafts before it can be considered a positive for the offense.


Defensive Line: B

A strong run defense starts with a defensive line and the Cardinals have some good run defense. Dockett has been making his prescence known and if he continues may just have teams game planning for him next season. Ta'amu and Williams are punishing interior lines. While Campbell has played well he has the best chance of becoming a destroyer in the pass rush.


Linebackers: A-

It's scaring seeing Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington play side by side. Both just need to spend this week practicing catching so they can make a few more interceptions. Abraham just needed to stop playing passing situations in order to generate a pass rush. Meanwhile, the pickups of Moch and Bernard have been helping fill the void Okafor and Acho's injuries may have caused.


Safeties: B-

Yeremiah Bell is a good run defender, in fact he played great when he filled in as a linebacker earlier in the season, maybe he should stay there. Frankly, if it wasn't for the above average tight ends the team has faced all season he wouldn't be exposed so much. Mathieu is just extraordinary. Even with Ellington's breakout game, Honey Badger is by far the best rookie on the field in any given game.


Cornerbacks: B-

Peterson has been great shutting down a whole side of the field, though he's not yet a complete shutdown corner. Jerraud Powers just makes me long for Greg Toler whenever the ex-Colt CB allows for another blown play. While the team brought in some many cornerbacks this offseason none inspire confidence that they should be with the team past this season.

Pheenic:

Quarterback: D+ --- C-

This has been one of the weakest positions for the team. While not all of the blame can be placed on Palmer, he IS 2nd in the league for interceptions, which is a stat no team wants. He also hasn't been on sync with his receivers, and at times, I've questioned whether he even understands this offensive scheme fully. The game against the Falcons was a welcome sight, and it's an example of the best game-plan for the team: Focus on the run, limit Palmer's passes.


Runningbacks: C+

Andre Ellington salvages this entire unit. Rashard Mendenhall has been mediocre at best (much of this can be attributed to his injuries), and Arians has been incredibly stubborn in playing his rookies at this position. I do have hope that they can turn it around, though, especially if Ellington and Taylor continue to be the featured tandem.


Wide Receivers: C-

To be honest, they've been pretty bad. One of their biggest problems has been miscommunication with Palmer, which again leads me to question this offensive scheme (Seriously, do the players even have it done? It's Week 9!). A bright spot has been their blocking, though. Fitz and Floyd were huge on Ellington's 80 yard TD run.


Tight Ends: F

I'll go with everyone else here. They've been completely non-existent this year, receiving-wise, blocking-wise, anything-wise.


Offensive Line: C-

They've been better as of late, but they've also been truly horrendous at times. I'm just waiting for Cooper to return.


Defensive Line: B

Like David said, the Cardinals' run defense is great, and the Defensive Line deserves much of that credit. They've played a huge part in the Cardinals' dominating defense this season.


Linebackers: A

Karlos Dansby is having a legendary season in the making, and is a perfect representation of what these linebackers have done this season.


Safeties and Cornerbacks: B-

Tyrann Mathieu has been a steal so far this season, which raises this grade. Patrick Peterson isn't doing too bad himself, although he does have some improving to do. However, Peterson needs some help opposite of him, and covering the TE's better would be nice.


Special Teams: A-

Javier Arenas made some questionable returns earlier in the year, but he seems to have figured out when to run the ball out and when not to. Peterson isn't making much noise behind punt return, but that should be expected, as most teams kick far and high for him now. Jay Feely must've taken the Dan Carpenter signing to heart, as he's had a decent season of his own.

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