The Arizona Cardinals might be 1-2 and have looked sub par in their last two weeks, but there have been some positive things, at least offensively, even with the losses. Kevin Kolb has played well overall and Beanie Wells is looking like the back that the team hoped he would be.
Mike Sando from ESPNshared some solid offensive stats to help us know that the team is in fact doing some things right.
First the numbers passing the ball:
They lead the NFL in yards per pass attempt on first down (11.0), just ahead of the New England Patriots (10.9) and the unbeaten Buffalo Bills (10.8).
They rank among the top 10 in the same category on third down (7.8).
Kolb has hurt teams with the deep ball, completing 4 of 7 attempts for 158 yards on passes thrown more than 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. His 22.6-yard average per attempt on these throws ranks among the NFL's top five, just ahead of Drew Brees' 21.9 average.
This is exactly what the team lacked a year ago. Kolb might not be perfect, but he has been quite good overall. to top all of it off, he still is not really anywhere near being comfortable with the offense. I get the impression that once he does, the team is going to look very good offensively.
Sando reached out to scout Matt Williamson to discuss the move to get Kolb for the Cardinals. The quote that stood out the most to me was:
"Being improved at the quarterback position is going to go a long way. They still have noticeable warts, however. Their defense is a real problem. They are one of these teams like [the] Rams' offense where the lockout did them no favors. They look lost in coverage. Their pass rush isn't great to begin with. Those things could come around, but they need more bodies to compete in those areas, too. The offense is fine."
Last year the defense struggled and the offense struggled. However, the quarterback situation got the most attention, as Kurt Warner left, the Matt Leinart thing happened and then the collective suck of Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton kept us all occupied for a long time.
Now, the defense is the focus because they have not just been bad statistically, they have looked lost on the field at times. That there in enough to tell you that the QB play is not the problem.
Now for the stuff on Beanie:
Running back Beanie Wells, though sidelined against Seattle in Week 3, ranks first with 3.3 yards per carry gained after contact, just ahead of Adrian Peterson (3.2), Ricky Williams (3.0), Peyton Hillis (2.9) and Michael Turner (2.8).
Remember when Ken Whisenhunt once talked about gaining extra yards? Beanie is now doing that. There is evidence that he is running harder and with more purpose. In ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski's praise of Beanie recently, he cited the lateral speed he also has.
We have always known him to have the size to be a bruiser, but have seen him rely more on speed. This year we are seeing both for the first time. He is fighting for more yards.
Of course, with his increased production, there has been the debate of getting him the ball more.
These numbers just show how important Beanie is going to be this year. The team might not run the ball enough, but without Beanie, the running game is almost useless.
The next step in all of this is to have it translate into wins. One against the Giants at home would go a long way to easing fans' worries that this season could quickly become lost.