Cardinals vs. Saints: The good, bad and the ugly from the 31-7 loss

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

It will be much more heavy on the bad and the negative.

The Big Easy wasn't the most hospitable environment for the Arizona Cardinals, as the Bruce Arians era has experienced its first real hiccup, the loss to the Rams was a great learning tool, but this was a calculated beat down at the hand of one of the better teams in the NFL.

Maybe the Cardinals aren't ready to play with the big boys yet, or maybe there is just a lot of work still to do before the Cardinals can be considered ready to make a splash this season in the NFL, but there were some good things to take away from this game, as hard as that is to believe.

Let's get to the good, the bad, and the ugly from the Cardinals blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints.

The Good:

Despite the 31 points scored by the New Orleans Saints, you have to be happy with the way the Cardinals defense kept them in the game for the first three quarters.

The Cardinals offense, which will get a special section later, was so bad that the Cardinals defense had to defend 44 second half plays, including an astounding 25 plays in a decisive third quarter that saw the defense just get completely worn down.

The fourth quarter stats are a bit misleading, as the Cardinals gave up 14 points, but by that time the offense had done such a bad job, the Cardinals injury ravaged defense was on the field for over 21 minutes of game time, that giving up points was all but a given.

The defense came alive, doing a good job of pressuring Drew Brees, but also confusing the All Pro quarterback with disguised coverage's and exotic looks on the back end, resulting in nine quarterback hits and numerous other pressures.

Unfortunately for Todd Bowles and company, they don't have an answer for tight ends and running backs in the passing game right now, and those players combined for 21 receptions, 231 yards and two touchdowns.

The defense did more than enough to keep the Cardinals in this game for three quarters, but you can only hold down a great offense for so long.

The Bad:

Bruce Arians has a mantra of not running the ball just to meet a "quota" but the reality in this game was that the Cardinals offense was moving the ball more effectively on the ground than in the air.

Through the first three quarters, the Cardinals had only managed 86 yards passing, while the run game had 83 yards.

Arians refusal to use the running game more, the Cardinals only ran the ball four times in the decisive third quarter for 25 yards, allowed the Saints to pin their ears back and just go after Palmer, who was sacked once and hit on another play in only four drop backs, and the third quarter put the Cardinals in a hole they just couldn't get out of.

Arians has a reputation for stubbornness, and it showed today, as Eric Winston and Levi Brown continued to give up quarterback pressures at an alarming rate, note that Winston was injured by the end of the game, and abandoned a running game that was averaging 5.5 ypc in the first three quarters.

It is unfortunate because Arians and company know what they have in Levi Brown, and they are learning the hard way that this offensive lines strength, at least at the tackle positions, is not protecting the quarterback in deep pass sets, but rather opening up running lanes for the running back and quick pass sets.

The Ugly:

The offensive line is getting to the point where Carson Palmer is beginning to bail at the first hint of pressure coming, and is getting a Kevin Kolb like level of creating pressure when it's not even there.

That's what happens when you've been hit an astonishing 31 times through three games, which is a higher rate through the first three games than 2012, they only had 14 this time last year.

It's been bad thus far, but things can only go up... right?

The Unmentionable:

Fun with numbers: Through three games in 2013 the Cardinals have given up more quarterback hits (and sacks), thrown fewer touchdowns, thrown more interceptions, and of course have won two less games.

This isn't anything other than noting the difference a year makes.

The timing of the Arians offense is so hard to come by and takes so much development that even with superior talent on paper at nearly every position, they are performing worse outside of the bulk stats categories, rushing and passing yards.

On top of that, the Cardinals offense ran 17 plays in the second half of the game versus the Saints... SEVENTEEN!

This team's talent level is extremely high, they invested along the offensive line, they brought in help at the running back and quarterback position, and yet the results just aren't there.

17 plays is an abysmal total to run in a half, and the Buccaneers defense is licking their chops, just as much as the Cardinals defense is, at getting a chance to go against an offense that is struggling to find their footing.

Arians needs to bring a change to this team someway, somehow and get this offense, that many thought had a shot to be a top ten unit, going, because they have been on some 2012 stuff too often this season.

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