Here is how the Arizona Cardinals ranked in each team category following their 27-27 OT tie with the Lions, per PFF (28 teams have been graded thus far—-all but the 4 teams in last night’s games):
- 3rd in Special Teams and Pass Rush—-one has to sing the highest praises for STC and AHC Jeff Rodgers for the outstanding job he has been doing over the past 17 games, turning a constant liability into a glowing asset. The pass rush versus the Lions was a big difference maker, no question about it. That’s exactly how Vance Joseph likes to dial it up.
- 6th in Tackling—-kudos to Vance Joseph and his coaches for this significant improvement. When all 11 players on defense are committed to making good, hard, form tackles it gets contagious.
- 9th in pass Blocking—-this was one of the most significant keys to the Cardinals’ 4th quarter and OT success.
- 11th in Rushing—-again, this a major improvement in the making.
- 12th in Run Defense and Run Blocking—-what these solid grades tell us, the Cardinals played a solid game at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, which in the NFL is a formula for success.
- 25th in Passing—-this grade reflects 3 quarters of ineffective offense. But, the 4th quarter and OT give the Cardinals a reason to believe that the passing game could be electric.
- 20th in Receiving—-there is no question that the Lions were doing a good job of applying sticky man coverage—-but the Cardinals finally came up with some answers. When the receivers got a step on their man and the ball was thrown on target, the Cardinals receptions were caught with strong hands, body control and confidence.
- 20th in Coverage—-yeah, the passing games did not go as well as hoped on both sides of the ball thanks in this case to a handful of blown coverages where Lions receivers were wide open. Tighter and more trustworthy coverage was the key to the defense’s success in the 4th quarter and OT.
It’s an encouraging sign that the Cardinals played reasonably well up front on both sides of the ball versus a well coached, physical Lions’ team. With what has a chance to be one of the top special teams units in the NFL and an offense that, when in rhythm, can score points in a hurry, if the Cardinals can tighten their pass coverage and continue to block and tackle as well as they did versus the Lions, they might be more highly competitive than most pundits think.