The Arizona Cardinals evened their record to 2-2 with a 13-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Here were some of the positives.
If those numbers don't mean anything to you trust me when I say you won't need a decoder ring, just take a quick look at the Arizona Cardinals defensive stat lines from the Buccaneers game for clarity. The Cardinals gave up only 10 points (zero in the second half), 253 total yards or just 3.3 yards a play and had three turnovers. So far the Cardinals defense looks like the exact opposite of the Cardinals defense of 2012. Amazing against the run, mediocre against the pass. While some pundits like Ron Wofley said the Cardinals were lucky to win, the numbers show that the Cardinals defense did everything they could to keep the Cardinals in the game. Hopefully we play running teams the rest of the year...
2. Andre Ellington:
I have to eat some crow here, when Overload kept touting (in the small novellas he writes each time he posts) how Ellington had much greater value than the 6th round pick he was grabbed at I scoffed. He ran a slow 4.61 40 at the combine and is undersized, there was no way the guy was going to be a factor over Ryan Williams, Alfonso Smith or Stephan Taylor. Well here is the crow; through four games Ellington is the Cardinals most effective offensive weapon. On just seven touches Ellington generated 51 yards of offense, a staggering 7.3 yards-per-touch. He also had the Cardinals longest run of the season (25 yards) and broke the ankles of Darrelle Revis on a sick move in the process. For the season Ellington has total 20 touches and 181 total yards (11 carries for 68 yards, 9 receptions for 113), a whopping 9 yards-per-touch.
3. Patrick Peterson:
Not all of us ascribe to Profootballfocus.com grades. I enjoy their stats with a grain of salt. Basically I only like them when they say good things about the Cardinals ;). According to PFF Mr. Peterson allowed just one catch on nine targets and had two interceptions, winning the PFF game ball award for the best player of the game. I have a new nickname for PP21: PP 2 INTs = 1 win.
4. Special Teams:
Dave Zastudil, or Nasty Zasty, had another phenomenal game kicking. On seven punts he netted 320 yards, or an excellent 45.7 yards-per-punt. He also kicked zero touch backs and put three punts inside the twenty. Zasty has been a huge factor in winning the field position battle every game. Justin Bethel, after a poor week against the Saints last week, came back with a vengeance and was a monster on special teams. His big play came in the fourth quarter on a shoe string tackle on Buccaneers return man Jeff Demps, pinning the Bucs on their own nine yard line. Demps should have never returned that kick but when he did the Cardinals made him pay and put the defense and Patrick Peterson in position to make a play. Jay Feely was also reliable making both field goal attempts.
5. Alameda Ta'amu:
A lot of guys on defense deserve special attention, Karlos Dansby, Yeremiah Bell, Matt Shaughnessy, Dontay Moch, and Jasper Brinkley all had very good games. Bell almost got the point for his sack, two TFLs, and eight total tackles but didn't because it was the unheralded Ta'amu's play that allowed the players around him to make plays. Ta'amu's stat line is nothing special and PFF gave him no love, but if you watched the game than you know what I am talking about. Ta'amu was a constant presence in the Buccaneers backfield and thorn in the side of Doug Martin. He held his blocks against a very good Tampa Bay interior line and showed some ability to push the pocket on passing downs. I hope to see more Ta'amu and see if he can develop into a starter.