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Arizona Cardinals Beat Dolphins 31-10: Offensive Breakdown

The Arizona Cardinals offense took to the air early and often on Sunday and were in complete cruise control by the fourth quarter. Anytime you have a QB with a perfect game, two receivers with 100 yard games and multiple big plays (6 plays of 20 Hightower2_mediumyards or more) you can't help but be pleased with the offensive production. Here's a position by position breakdown for those on the offensive side of the ball.

Quarterback: What else can you say about ole 'grey beard?' A perfect QB rating, 361 yards, three touchdowns and most importantly a second straight game without a turnover. Warner hasn't gone two consecutive starts without a turnover since weeks 2 and 3 in 2004 and his ability to stand in the pocket and deliver a perfect pass is amazing at times. His most impressive pass of the day was the third TD to Boldin when he threaded the needle between two defenders and placed the ball perfectly on Boldin's back shoulder. All in all, Warner could not have had a better game. Leinart even got in the game with his mop in hand and completed one of two passes for 15 yards. Grade: A+

Running Backs: After rushing for 108 total yards in week one, the Cardinals looked more like last years' group with just 81 yards on 31 carries (2.6 ypc). The Dolphins, for whatever reason, seemed intent on shutting down the running game and forcing the Cardinals to pass, but you'd still like see more production from the running game. Edge ended up with a hard fought 55 yards on 18 carries and Hightower chipped in 24 yards on 10 carries. Hightower scored his second rushing touchdown in as many games and continues to pick up the critical yards when they really need them. He also chipped in with a beautiful 20 yard screen but his day was dampened by a fumble. It was another workman-like day for the Cardinals backfield but they'll have to get better for this offense to be truly balanced. Grade: C

Fitz6_medium Wide Receivers: The duo of Boldin and Fitzgerald gave the Dolphins secondary fits all day long and to be honest, I didn't understand their game plan at all. It's possible that the Phins knew they couldn't contain the duo so they instead chose to all-out blitz and hope that they got to Warner. The result though wasn't pretty as Q and Fitz combined for almost 300 yards and both posted new career highs in terms of longest reception. Boldin followed up his impressive second half against the Niners by posting a new career high with three touchdowns. Fitzgerald had a great game as well and his biggest improvement this season seems to be his ability to run after the catch (although he may never live down getting caught from behind). With the Q and Fitz having such big games, there weren't too many scraps left on the table but Ben Patrick made his first appearance of the season with four receptions and Leonard Pope also checked in with a nice catch. Grade: A+

Offensive Line: The offensive line did a decent job of protecting KW, considering that Warner was sacked twice and hit several times. Miami's game plan seemed to center around blitzing Warner from multiple angles and at times they got through untouched, but overall they held thier own. The line did have problems opening up holes in the running game though and this team will not be successful against better opponents if they continue to average less than 3.0 per carry.  Hopefully as youngsters Levi Brown, Deuce Lutui and Lyle Sendlein continue to gel, they'll get better at opening holes and taking some pressure off the passing game. Grade: C+

Play Calling: After watching the game, my initial thought was that the play calling Boldin6_medium
was really good. They did, afterall, score 31 points right? After watching the game again though, one thing kept standing out and after looking at some stats it became even more clear. The Cardinals run too much on first down and I think opposing defenses are picking up on it. Consider this, they ran the ball 18 times on first down for 32 yards (1.77 avg) and they ran it 11 times on either second or third down for 52 yards (4.73 yards). I understand that the play calling was effected by the score but at some point the game plan needs to be adjusted. That's my only real complaint and even that is explained away when you consider that the Cardinals led by at least three scores for over half the game. Grade: B+


Overall, the offense was impressive to say the least and should give Washington plenty to worry about this week. There are some areas that need improvement but overall, I think they stuck to thier game plan while also exploiting Miami's flawed plan and weak secondary. Thoughts? Agree/Disagree? What would your grades have been?