What the Cardinals have proven in their two wins versus the Colts (away) and 49ers (home) is that they can overcome a myriad of mistakes in all three phases of the game and still win with last minute heroics.
In the Cardinals' two losses against the Lions (away) and the Cowboys (home) the Cardinals proved that they cannot make a myriad of errors in all three phases of the game versus playoff caliber and keep the games close enough to win.
At 2-2, the Cardinals amazingly find themselves 1 game behind the top record teams in the NFC, although their 1-2 record right now versus NFC teams would push them down the ladder with NFC teams they are tied with.
Disturbing Patterns that Go Back to the Seattle Whooping at Home in Week 17 of 2015 and the Carolina Debacle in the NFC Championship Game of 2015:
* Offensive drives stalling left and right due to penalties, costly turnovers and red zone miscues.
* Slow starts.
* 3-4 poor decisions by Carson Palmer a game, sometimes with him panicking and throwing the ball right to the other team.
* Poor pass protection.
* No added help by TEs, slot WRs and RBs to chip DEs.
* Predictable snap counts.
* Poor adjustments at half-time.
* Defense disorganized and late getting set up before the snap.
* Defense readily losing contain virtually on every bootleg, waggle and misdirection play.
* Defense not covering TEs, WRs and RBs on bootlegs.
* Defense not blowing up screen passes and sniffing them out.
* Defensive line not getting inside push, nor getting their hands up into the passing lanes.
* Defense: sloppy tackling, slow to shed blocks.
* Special teams being outperformed each week.
* No pressure on other team's punter and kicker.
* Missed FGs, XPTs and rushed punts.
* Slow, sloppy coverage on punt and kickoff teams.
* Poor blocking on punt and kickoff teams.
* Coaching: poor half-time adjustments.
* Coaching: wasted timeouts that come back to haunt the team.
* Coaching: throwing challenge flags on obvious calls.
* Coaching: constantly f bombing the refs.
Apply these pattern to yesterday's 49ers' game.
* Great first drive ruined by a rookie-esque panic throw from a veteran QB which set the tone for the rest of the game.
* Only 6 first half points.
* QB gets hit 17 times and is sacked 5 times.
* Little to no added help to OL from coaches as RBs, TEs and slot WRs all go right into their routes on the snap.
* Three times in a row late in the game on 3rd and 3 situations, Palmer gives no hard count and thus the 49ers' pass rush a head start, which led to 2 sacks and throw short of the sticks. There was even a quarter break on the first one where the offense could have been alerted on the sidelines.
* 96% of the snaps went on first hut.
* After half-time the 49ers get the ball and march down the field. They were the team fired up, not the Cardinals. Fortunately, they got their TD called back on an illegal pick, but they took at 9-6 lead. In fact, the 49ers never trailed in regulation.
* On one key 4th down and short with the 49ers going for it, d-line was late setting up and gave the 49ers an easy 1st down right up the middle.
* Defense gave up contain to Hoyer all afternoon, never defended it or put pressure on him once, nor did the LBers and DBs pick up the coverage soon enough.
* Special Teams outperformed again. The 49ers P Pinion flipped the field every time for well back...and averaged 50 yards a punt. Not only that, the Cardinals get their typical 3.0 punt return average and that was on the rare times they didn't get flagged for holding. Punting from inside their 20-yard line led to the Cardinals getting the ball back inside their own 20-yard line. That's the epitome of flipping the field.
* P Andy Lee was mostly good but he got pressured into a short punt in a situation where he could have pinned the ball inside the 10 and the punt coverage team gave up an average 10 yards a punt return to rookie Travis Taylor.
* Again, little to no half-time adjustments from Cardinals' coaches.
* Again, another wasted timeout in the 3rd quarter on offense right before the 3rd quarter break, only for an ensuing 2nd down running play that got stuffed at the line of scrimmage.
* BA had a couple good reasons to bark at the refs...still can't figure out how the Ellington TD was over-turned. Even Mike Pereira was convinced it was a TD. The TD to John Brown looked legit as well. Still, one has to wonder if all the barking at the refs continues to work against the Cardinals.
YET...despite this LITANY of errors...Carson Palmer, the makeshift offensive line and a quartet of eager and thirsty WRs...pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the hat just when it appeared the rabbit had fallen into the deepest and darkest rabbit warren.
The much embattled Carson Palmer somehow some way managed to turn a 60 minute Jackson Pollack splatter canvas into a 3 minute Rembrandt when he threw the picture perfect game winning pass to G.O.A.T. Cardinals' WR Larry Fitzgerald!
Kudos to the defense for giving up 5 FGs instead of the 5 TDs the Rams allowed to the 49ers. The defense bent a lot in this game, but, in the end, they did not break like they did against the Cowboys on MNF.
Was curious to hear during BA's post-game presser that he told the team all week that the game was going to come down to the wire and that the team needed to build on whatever ways they could find to pull the game out.
What do you make of that strategy on BA's part?
On the one hand, what did it say to his team that he thought they wouldn't be able to put away the 0-3 49ers at home?
On the other hand, was it a smart move to prepare the team mentally for a tight game and what it could mean going forward to pull it out?
The answer to this question will be what happens in Philly this week. BA said he made that forecast because he believed the team needed to build on whatever it was that would get them the win.
Keim Time Trade?
At 2-2 the Cardinals find themselves, unlike last year, very much in the thick of the NFC West championship race and the NFC playoff hunt.
Could much needed offensive line and quite possibly pass rushing (the ACL injury to Markus Golden) help be on the way?
If Keim's off-season moves are an indication of where Keim's focus is, he will not mortgage any aspect of the future to help with the present. And if so, what does this continue to suggest about Keim's view of the team's present chances?
* It would be very timely to get T D.J. Humphries back this week and slide John Wetzel down to LG. Word is that G Alex Boone is farther along in his rehab than expected. That should be big to get him back, especially now that Mike Iupati is on the IR.
* Would Daniel Munyer be a better option at G versus Philly than Will Holden? With Holden struggling in pass pro, Carson Palmer was loath to step up in the pocket (even at times when he could), which made things all the more challenging for the tackles, as Palmer stayed pretty much transfixed on the deep back arc of the pocket.
* Can Evan Boehm bounce back from his worst game as a Cardinal, like Veldheer did versus the 49ers?
* Can John Brown play again this week? His presence was a big lift.
* How can Fitz be targeted so much versus the Cowboys and so little versus the 49ers? Does Palmer pay too much attention to the Browns and Nelson?
* Why does BA sub in Penny in the red zone when Ellington is killing it in the passing and sprint draw game and Chris Johnson is already running hard between the tackles? Nothing against Penny, but why make changes when the top 2 players are playing well?
* Will the Cardinals get any consistency out of their TEs this year? What a woeful unit.
* Good to see the interior defensive linemen show up stronger versus the 49ers (Peters, Gunter, Pierre and Williams in particular). Can they build on this performance?
* Why has Markus Golden been crashing down and losing contain so much? Is he coached to do that? Why has he been missing so many tackles? Who takes his place? Kareem Martin can set the edge, but he's not very athletic. With Deone Bucannon back, can the coaches switch Reddick over to SAM OLB? It would be superb to make the defense faster and more athletic.
* Kudos to Tyvon Branch for his stellar play. He has the Caridnals' only "elite" PFF player grade for the season (91.8) thus far. The next highest PFF player grade on the whole team are Corey Peters at 81.4 and Chandler Jones at 80.1. On offense, the top 3 are Larry Fitzgerald (78.9), Jaron Brown (75.3) and John Brown (74.4), Carson Palmer is at 74.1.
* While he had his fair share of struggles at times, again Tyrann Mathieu seems to be getting stronger as the game goes along. Will his return to Philly be an inspirational one?
* Man, Karlos Dansby came so close to swiping his 20th interception. Could this be the week?
* Is Budda Baker at FS going to happen sooner rather than later? Good to see him and Bethel sniff out the 49ers' deep pass attempt to Robinson late in the game.
* Great to see Phil Dawson return to form. Those pressure packed kicks were clutch. Will he build on this?
* Is Patrick Peterson really all that interested in returning punts? What a boost that could be if he was.