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PFF to Cardinals: “Improvement Needed”

NFL: SEP 20 Washington Football Team at Cardinals Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When you take a gander at the Cardinals’ PFF grades through 2 games, it might be difficult to imagine that the Cardinals are 2-0.

Sometimes, without question, the PFF grades are mystifying. There is no denying that.

But, whether we agree with the grades or not, the metrics consider every aspect of a player’s position and they weigh those aspects accordingly in determining a player’s overall grade—-and they evaluate every player on every team within the same positional criteria.

Cardinals PFF player grades (with top 5 ST grades) through 2 weeks:

Offense:

  1. 80.3—-Hopkins
  2. 72.4—-Isabella
  3. 69.7—-Sherfield
  4. 69.5—-K. Murray
  5. 66.7—-Streveler
  6. 66.5—-Beachum
  7. 65.4—-Drake
  8. 62.7—-Fitzgerald
  9. 62.4—-Cole
  10. 61.8—-Daniels
  11. 60.5—-Humphries
  12. 57.7—-Thomas
  13. 55.8—-Pugh
  14. 54.8—-Williams
  15. 54.7—-Kirk
  16. 51.9—-Arnold
  17. 51.9—-J. Murray
  18. 48.6—-Gaillard
  19. 44.1—-Edmonds
  20. 41.0—-Sweezy

Nicest Surprise: Andy Isabella at 72.4 (but did you know that he graded pretty well in limited action last season at 64. 2?) FYI—-D.K. Metcalf is at 73.9 after 2 games, albeit in a bigger role.

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Biggest Dis: Kyler Murray at a mere 69.5. Here is how PFF graded him across the board:

Overall: 69.5, Passing Grade: 65.5; Rushing Grade: 80.0; 4 penalties

As compared to:

Russell Wilson: Overall: 92.7; Passing: 91.5; Rushing: 75.2

Patrick Mahomes: Overall: 81.7; Passing: 77.1; Rushing: 75.8

Lamar Jackson: Overall: 80.0; Passing: 80.8: Rushing: 64.3

***Kyler has the top rushing grade at 80.0. Which he deserves. And, even though Kyler has put up good passing numbers (516 yards at 66.7%), his TD to INT ratio is 2:2. When that ratio goes up, so should Kyler’s overall grade.

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Biggest Concern: RG J.R. Sweezy at 41.0, by virtue of a league low 10.5 pass blocking grade in Week 2.

If these struggles continue, one has wonder if, when Mason Cole returns, Lamont Gaillard remains the starting C and Cole becomes the starter at RG.

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Top 5 Pass Blocking Grades:

  1. 83.3—-Pugh
  2. 81.6—-Edmonds
  3. 76.5—-Daniels
  4. 74.4—-Cole
  5. 73.4—-Gaillard

Top 5 Run Blocking Grades:

  1. 71.7—-Sherfield
  2. 67.8—-Daniels
  3. 65.1—-Beachum
  4. 61.8—-Isabella
  5. 60.2—-Williams

Defense:

  1. 74.1—-Peters
  2. 72.8—-Reddick
  3. 68.6—-Banjo
  4. 67.6—-Baker
  5. 66.5—-Kennard
  6. 64.6—-Vallejo
  7. 62.6—-J. Thompson
  8. 62.4—-Blackson
  9. 60.7—-Washington
  10. 60.6—-Murphy
  11. 60.0—-D. Thompson
  12. 60.0—-Campbell
  13. 57.9—-Fitts
  14. 57.3—-Allen
  15. 56.7—-Hicks
  16. 55.2—-Phillips
  17. 51.9—-Lawrence
  18. 51.6—-Jones
  19. 46.1—-Peterson
  20. 44.5—-Fotu
  21. 44.2—-Kirkpatrick
  22. 28.4—-Simmons

Nicest Surprise: Haason Reddick at 72.8. Imagine how cool it is for him to play at his natural position after 3 years being miscast at ILB.

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Biggest Dis: De’Vondre Campbell at 60.0. One could argue that he belongs in the Cardinals’ discussion for defensive MVP after 2 games. His coverage on TEs and RB (did you see him blanketing Logan Thomas and running stride for stride on a wheel route with RB Antonio Gibson who ran a 4.39 at the Combine?). What’s holding back his grade? Run defense: 40.2. Although his tackling (17 tackles, 2 misses) has been good at 67.2, but like Jordan Hicks he has been late reading and filling the holes on run plays. His coverage grade is a very good 73.4. Amazing to think of how good coverage on TEs has changed the fortunes of the Cardinals defense, particularly in making stops on 3rd downs.

FYI—-Chandler Jones’ run defense and tackling grades are 29.9 and 25.8, while his pass rush grade is 63.8.

Amazing that 3 of the 4 captains on the defense, plus the veteran RCB have 4 of the worst tackling grades on the team and yet the defense has been doing well despite that, thanks to the work of an absolute stud in Budda Baker, a DT rock in captain Corey Peters, and timely contributions from Angelo Blackson, Jordan Phillips, Devon Kennard, Hasson Reddick, De’Vondre Campbell, Byron Murphy and Chris Banjo.

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Biggest Concern: CBs Patrick Peterson and Dre Kirkpatrick at 46.1 and 44.2 respectively.

Peterson: Overall: 46.1; Tackling: 21.9; Coverage: 48.5

Kirkpatrick: Overall: 44.2; Tackling 49.4; Coverage: 40.0

Kliff Kingsbury offered an excuse for Peterson’s 2nd half struggles with WR Terry McLaurin claiming that they were result of “backing off” the coverage so as not to give up big plays. You saw Peterson run these coverages at 34 speed even after McLaurin caught the ball. Plus, “so as not to give up big plays”? WAS went right down the field and scored its 1st TD going 75 yards in 5 plays (1:57 of clock time) and the second TD going 78 yards in 8 plays (2:55 clock time). Hopefully, the “backing off” tactic will be re-assessed.

Top 5 Tackling Grades:

  1. 87.8—-Banjo
  2. 78.0—-Reddick
  3. 76.8—-Baker
  4. 76.0—-Simmons
  5. 73.8—-Kennard

Top 5 Pass Coverage Grades:

  1. 73.4—-Campbell
  2. 73.3—-Reddick
  3. 66.6—-Banjo
  4. 65.5—-Baker
  5. 60.4—-Murphy

Top 5 Special Teams:

  1. 83.2—-Daniels
  2. 82.1—-Turner
  3. 72.8—-Gardeck
  4. 66.8—-Fitts
  5. 66.0—-Washington

These grades confirm how focused and committed the Cardinals are this year to making their special teams special. Two huge momentum swinging 1st quarter plays from the STs in consecutive weeks have set the tone for the back-to-back wins.

Summary:

Even though there are some assessments that I and many of you question, few of us have the time or the technology (coaches tapes from the end zone, which you can get with a yearly subscription to NFL.com) to analyze the performance of every player throughout the entire games—-thus, to a certain degree, especially when it comes to evaluating basic football skills and fundamentals, these grades can be an interesting and sometimes valuable resource.

The Best of the Cardinals’ Week 2 PFF Grades for Last via the Twitter feed of ROTB colleague Johnny Venerable who was PFF “crushing it” yesterday:

DeAndre Hopkins Tweet of the Week: