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Arizona Cardinals Beat Dolphins 31-10: Special Teams Breakdown

With the offensive and defensive analysis already posted, we look at the third and final group from Sunday's victory for the Arizona Cardinals. The special teams units were one of the biggest question marks heading into the season and so far they've been a mixed bag of results. Here's how they did against the Dolphins:

Neil Rackers: Rackers had a rough game considering that the Cardinals won by three touchdowns. He booted the opening kickoff out of bounds and missed a 47 yard field goal (although it was nullified by a penalty). Granted a 47 yarder is any thing but an easy field goal but any time a kickoffs ends up out of bounds, it's a huge buzz kill and simply inexusable. Outside of those two problems, Rackers was ok. He had five other kickoffs, four of which went to at least the goal line, and a 45 yard field goal. He attempted another squib kick at the end of the third quarter, but the Dolphins were ready for it after seeing it several times against San Fran. Grade: C

Dirk Johnson: Johnson is doing everything right so far and he had another great game. He didn't have to do much since the offense was unstoppable for most of the game but when he was needed, he pinned the Dolphins deep. His first punt went 48 yards and was downed at the two yard line and his second punt was fair caught Fitz7_medium
at the 11. Basically he couldn't have had a better game. Grade: A+

Coverage Units: The coverage on kickoffs was pretty solid for the most part but the overall average (20.3) was dragged down by the squib kick which led to a zero yard return. The three kickoffs that were actually returned went for an average of 27 yards. Calais Campbell is making a name for himself on special teams and he logged another tackle and downed Dirk's punt at the two. Grade: B+

Return Units: Steve Breaston again handled both return duties since JJ Arrington was inactive for the second straight game. Breaston didn't get as many chances as you'd think either considering how inept the Dolphin offense was on Sunday. He had two punt returns (16 yards and 12 yards) but his overall numbers were dragged down by a penalty on the second return. His only kick return went for 27 yards. One black eye for the return units that isn't necassarily Breaston's fault is that two punts resulted in Arizona penalties. Campbell picked up a block below the waist and Haggans had a holding call. The biggest moment for the units though were when Larry Fitzgerald recovered the Dolphins onside kick allowing the Cardinals to run out the clock. Grade: B+


The specail teams weren't too bad when you look at the group as a whole but you just wonder if Rackers is going to cost this team another game sometime down the road. Thoughts? Agree/Disagree?