One of my favorite comedians is Patton Oswald, and he has a bit based on someone he saw named Dr. Pepper perform on stage at the Yuks Yuks in Toronto that starts out with the phrase "Man, it's rough. I don't know where to start, or where to begin, man." In this week's rant that's the only phrase I can think of to describe the Arizona Cardinals loss to the Philadelphia Eagles displayed yesterday. Where do we start? Defense? Offense? Special Teams? Ref's? No, not the officiating, we'll save that for last.
Carson Palmer and the Offensive Play Calls - One week, just one week after we open our arms and say "Hey, the light bulb is on! The offense has arrived, and this guy is playing smart clean football" he throws two interceptions. One stat provided by ESPN Stats & Information is that "Carson Palmer threw both of his interceptions on passes thrown deeper than 30 yards" and has a "20% completion and 3 interceptions (tied for most) on passes deeper than 30 yards". I realize the game plan calls for trying the deep strikes out, but Palmer just doesn't have the arm strength to be going for the deep strikes that often, and statistics are showing that 80% of the time he does notcomplete his passes for those distances.
So why do the Cardinals keep forcing this play into the game plan? Palmer should be making the deep throws on busted plays when someone is wide open, or to shorter distances where he has a higher percentage of completions. His first attempt was purely underthrown and should have been enough to make the play callers reduce the number of calls going over 30, but instead he attempted four over 30, two becoming interceptions, one missed his target, and the only one being caught was a jump ball by Michael Floyd. Survey says, that's 25% completion and two turnovers. That's not smart football, not the play calling and not the performance, and especially not smart after the first one was intercepted.
Defense - I don't know where they were in the first half, but they didn't look like a top 10 defense, and they didn't play like one until the 2nd half. Even then they were still being killed by the Eagles TEs. I thought they figured out how to cover TEs after allowing Vernon Davis (49ers), Jared Cook (STL), Coby Fleener (IND) exploit them. Proven by their ability to remove the Falcons Gonzalez from the game plan a few weeks ago. But today the Eagles had every mismatch they wanted with bad CBs covering big TEs. The game plan looked like it was a "keep them in front of you" approach, but that was allowing too many yards through the air. Foles looked Elite out there, and while he may be anointed as elite some day, it should not have been today. The Cardinals Defense did not allow the team to win with three touchdowns because it was unable to get a stop in the first half of the game.
Offense - This one is simple, where was the offense in the first half? Where was the offense in the 4th quarter? The Cardinals are proving to very productive in the 3rd quarter coming out of the locker room, but the 4th quarter seems to be lacking in firepower each week. The Defense got the Cardinals the ball back late in the fourth, and even though flags may not have been thrown by the officials, the Offense has to perform. Palmers wide pass to an open Andre Roberts on 3rd down with the game on the line is a perfect example. You didn't get the call you wanted, deal with it, write a letter later, but right now you need to perform. The quick short pass goes wide on what would have been a first down. No blaming non-calls on that one. That was just not being clutch when the time called for it.
Officiating - Finally, I think we all need to rant about this, especially after reading Darren Urban's Cardinals Aftermath on the Cardinals Blog. There were some pretty blatant non-calls in the fourth quarter and quite simply it's outrageous that Bruce Arians didn't make a bigger deal out of it to the officiating. That's his job to get fired up and lose his cool to make sure the Refs are doing their job right. He complains some, but after that second non-call on Floyd I could not believe he was standing on the Cardinals side line and non rushing the field to get a piece of the Refs ear.
This is the rule from the NFL rulebook for pass interference.
It is pass interference by either team when any player movement beyond the line of scrimmage significantly hinders the progress of an eligible player of such player's opportunity to catch the ball.
Actions that constitute defensive pass interference include but are not limited to:
(a) Contact by a defender who is not playing the ball and such contact restricts the receiver's opportunity to make the catch.
(b) Playing through the back of a receiver in an attempt to make a play on the ball.
(c) Grabbing a receiver's arm(s) in such a manner that restricts his opportunity to catch a pass.
I don't need to go any further than this, as you can recall Floyd's arms were being grabbed which restricted his opportunity to catch the pass and the defender was not playing the ball while Floyd was running down the field trying to catch the ball. The second non-PI call was action (b), and still no call which cost the Cardinals the game. The announcers kept saying that the Refs are just letting the players play, but those are not the rules, pass interference was what was called and enforced allowing the Eagles to score, twice. When it happened in the 3rd and 4th quarter to the Cardinals it was not enforced. Arians, the ball is in your court to scare them straight and stand up for your team. Arians said he's going to review the game tape, sounds like a plan to do when you're on your plane flight after losing. Where was your passion when the team needed it most? That was some very poor officiating displayed today, and only the Head Coach was in any position to fight without worry of penalty, and even if a penalty was incurred you'd have won the moral victory.
Ugh, this loss just feels like there's so much to rant about. "Man, it's rough. I don't know where to start or where to begin."
What's your rant?