The Arizona Cardinals evened their regular season record to 1-1 with a nail biter 25-21 victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday in Glendale. Five key points on what occurred during the game.
1. Cardinals offense is still a work in progress.
Duh, right?! 1-11 in third downs after the protection breakdown last week against the Rams. Arians has said this offense is very complex - almost spider web-like and concise in how it is run. Players have to know where they'll be in a split second and changes on the fly just as fast. Timing is everything for the offense to run and fine detail to the point is necessary. Bruce pointed this out on Monday. With Arians proposed to be an "offensive mastermind", you have to think the inefficiencies will be corrected shortly. No need to see your mistakes on the Monday film and the locker room accountability board.
Nice thing is they're even after the first two games and right in that 10-15 slot statistically in nearly offensive category with the worst defense -numberwise- New Orleans Saints - on the ledger for Sunday.
2. Carson Palmer best quarterback since Kurt Warner.
Speaking of offense, duh, right?! Kinda big statement, yet you look at reality and slowly shake your head in agreement.
Despite the two boneheaded interception mistakes where he threw the ball directly to the Lions Deandre Levy and the Rams Trumaine Johnson, Palmer has been a rock. Pointed out as a strong leader by Arians yesterday, Carson has been very good. In that same 10-15 range as far as numbers - only fault I can find is "chunk" numbers are lower than anticipated in an Arians offense. 5 passes of 20+ ranks him 22nd in league where it's expected to be near the top, but sample size is currently small. See how this plays out.
3. Linebackers still struggling in pass coverage.
Another easy subject where the team is getting grades of D-.
The Rams Jared Cook ran roughshod over the Cardinals in Week one. The Lions Brandon Pettigrew only had 3 catches for 17 yards in Sunday's game but did have 6 targets - so It wasn't that Matthew Stafford wasn't targeting him. But you have to look at the Calvin Johnson/ Karlos Dansby long TD/miss INT and the currently underplaying of the run-strong LBs of Dansby, Brinkley and Minter. Supposedly Daryl Washington will be a fix to the problem but what has happened to the much heralded Lorenzo Alexander signing? Wore a big doughnut against the Lions.
4. Special teams are... well special.
From Feely's FGs and KOs, to Bethel's gunner coverage and FG block, to Zastudil's punts, this part of the team is getting the job done and will more than likely win a game or two. Other than the two known entities of offense and defense, special teams often figure into the outcome of games and right now, the Cards are getting the better results in the contests. Jay and Levi Brown must feel they are living in "opposite world" in comparing last week to this week.
Fun fact is Zastudil's punts have only been returned for 3 yards this season. That's 3 yards.
5. Patrick Peterson is... well special.
I like the title Cards team reporter Darren Urban gave Peterson who held the "best" WR in the game to 20 yards on 2 receptions in Sunday's second half and caught a 17 yard pass and threw a 17 yard pass. (First player since the 1970 merger of the AFL-NFL to do so.) Urban labeled Peterson a Swiss Army Knife, or PP SAK and you have to admit the kid has balls. The upside of the cornerback/punt returner/receiver/runner/quarterback has to be tremendous.
And don't get me started on pass rush, which is probably the weakest link right now.
I know...duh, right?!