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15 Observations from the Arizona Cardinals loss to the Los Angeles Rams

A look at what happened in the Cardinals loss to the Rams.

NFL: International Series-Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Here were the key points I made in my mid-week preview: (Questions in bold, answers follow)

On Offense:

1---Run Off-Tackle: Deuce Blocks on Brockers and Donald, Angle and Kick Out Blocks on Quinn and Barwin (most of the early runs were right up the middle, where the Cardinals even had trouble blocking NT Tanzel Smart. 12 rushes for 25 yards and 2.1 ypc the whole game. When asked about the lack of running game, Adrian Peterson said he thought the energy level was low and he wasn't sure why.)

2---Wall the Middle on Pass Plays, keep a RB in to take first penetration, A gap blitzes (the Rams in the 2nd quarter were all over Palmer in the pass rush. The lack of added protection is one of the reasons why Ogletree got a straight, unimpeded shot at Palmer, which led to costly interception and even more costly season-ending broken arm for Palmer. No Navy Seals training could save him from taking that shot---which has been a worry for weeks with the amount of hits Palmer was taking. Yet, such little to no adjustments from the coaches.)

3---Help on DE Quinn---chips, double teams (Quinn was beating the Cardinals' offensive line off the snap because he knew the snap count---everyone knows the Cardinals' snap count, week after week.)

4---Win WR/CB matchups (15/32/168/0 TD, 2 INT.)

5---Isolate RB in passing game on Ogletree (one time Adrian Peterson caught a ball on a swing pass and took it for 9 yards. The passes for Peterson over the middle were forced and nearly intercepted.)

On Defense:

1---Swarm tackle on Gurley (Cardinals gave up a 100 yard rusher for the first time in 20 games as Gurley rushed for 22/106/4.8/1 TD---it was clear from the start that the Cardinals were not all that interested in tackling anyone in this game---it was a weak effort, save from Bucannon and Bethea and Tramon Williams, although T-Williams made a number of his tackles on WRs he played loose coverage on.)

2---Pressure Goff, collapse pocket, get him to throw off back foot---make blitzes count (on most pass plays, Goff had all the time in the world and he made the Cardinals pay. Clearly the Cardinals do not have effective blitzes anymore and their 4 man rush is weak, save from Chandler Jones.)

3---DL get hands up in passing lanes to stifle short passing game---get 3rd down stops (The Rams did this all day---they got 5 deflections...because they are coached by Wade Phillips---the Cardinals don't do this and they have plenty of chances to because they do not get good inside rush penetration.)

4---Do a quicker job reading and blowing up screens---get a big game from Buc and Dansby (pitiful effort on the WR screen to Cooper Kupp---easy TD for Rams---Bucannon played well in run defense and coverage, Dansby continues to struggle in both---now a shell of his former self and he was never great or all that willing at stuffing holes, but he used to be great in coverage and now he is slow and easily beatable.)

5---Abandon the zones---play tight man exclusively---Peterson (Watkins), Bethel/T.Williams (Woods); Mathieu (Kupp); Branch (Higbee); Dansby (Everett), Bethea deep help opposite Peterson and at times sneak up to jump Kupp or Higbee (abandoning the zones was imperative especially following the 27 point 4th quarter versus the Bucs and the soft zones the Cardinals played during that poor stretch---and yet---for some reason---the plan this week was to play a lot of zones versus the Rams---which with little pressure on Goff made for easy pitch and catch all day---just as Tiki Barber who bristled at the Cardinals' consistent failure in zones. It felt especially weird to see Patrick Peterson on 3rd and long, giving Sammy Watkins a 10-12 yard cushion and then Watkins simply running a post across Peterson's face for an easy first down.)

On STs:

1---Limit Pharoh Cooper's touches on returns with touchbacks and hang-time on punts (Cooper had 3 punt returns for 30 yards.)

2---Pressure Hekker and Zeurlein, disturb their timing and rhythm (Hekker had 2 punts for an average of 59.5 yards each, one was a 65 harder. Zeurlein was 4/4 on FGs---including a last second 53 yard kick to end the half---and 3/3 on XPTs. Conversely, after the offense drove all the way down to set up a 32 yard chip shot FG to start the game, Phil Dawson shanked it wide left following a low snap by newbie Justin Drescher, but a good hold by Lee---it's just more of the same momentum destroying STs mistakes by the Cardinals. Dawson has now missed 5 FGs---Zeurleiin is 22/23 FGs on the year and 21/21 XPTs.)

3---Put Bethel back as one of the gunners, pair him with Baker (Bethel was back as gunner, but could not pin the Rams deep on a pooch punt because he ran out of bounds and wasn't getting to Pharoh Cooper in time.)

4---Don't let STC John Fassel and the Rams' very good STs be the difference maker in this game (Fassel's STs were excellent, as always---Amos Jones' were poor again.)

5---Get Scooby Wright going---play these teams with passion (Didn't see Scooby, but Josh Bynes made a good tackle on STs and good pass breakup versus Kupp in the end zone, but later got flagged for unnecessary roughness. As for playing with passion---that pretty much stopped for the Cardinals after 31-0 versus the Bucs.)