The sky has fallen on the Arizona Cardinals. Following the 17-3 loss to the St. Louis Rams, the Cardinals have exposed many questions that their 4-0 record had covered up. The Arizona Cardinals will have to take a long hard look at themselves, after a game in which Kevin Kolb was hit 13 times, sacked 9 times, and failed to put the ball in the end zone despite three red zone attempts. In the aftermath of a game in which they were beaten soundly in every aspect, it is hard to look at any position on this team without questions.
Is Kevin Kolb the answer?
Probably not, but he is the best quarterback on the Cardinals roster right now. Kolb’s play level in the previous games, and the added re-injury possibility associated with putting Skelton back in there, make it an obvious choice to stick with Kolb, at least until he goes another entire first half without putting up a touchdown. The Cardinals may look at taking one of the talented quarterbacks available in this year’s draft, but Arizona will face a difficult decision in 2013 picking between offensive tackles, or the teams next quarterback.
How does Arizona improve the offensive line?
Personnel wise, there is nothing that can be done. Bobbie Massie and D'Anthony Batiste are a definite hindrance to this offense, but there is no one available that can come in, learn the playbook quickly, and produce better than the Cardinals current starters. The Cardinals need to change their line scheme, lend more assistance to the outsides, and keep people in to help block.
Where is the running game?
Ryan Williams has had zero success, with Beanie Wells out, we saw William Powell and Anthony Sherman in shotgun, and later in the game, Alfonso Smith actually came in to try to create something. Ryan Williams has not been the answer, instead of making one cut and picking a hole, he spends too much time waiting for holes and dancing around uselessly. The line has not helped any, providing little to no push off the line in running plays. Confusion would be welcome to running game, it has been too obvious when and how the Cardinals are preparing to run. Against the Rams, we saw the Cardinals slip in some draws out of shotgun, and use audibles when the defense sells out to the run. Good start, but it did not help against the Rams.
Where was the Defense?
The defense showed up, and actually showed up well. Steven Jackson had only 76 yards; Sam Bradford had a 33% completion percentage, and Patrick Peterson picked him off in the end zone in a critical time. Two big plays were the backbreaker for this defense. The Rams two touchdowns came off of large gains from play action passes, both of which the Arizona corners had been beat in one on one coverage. The pass rush generated only one sack, after leading the league with 16 through four games. The sack total is explainable, as the Rams were running the ball a lot, having gained an early lead, and our pass rush suffered having Darnell Dockett in only part time. The Cardinals were able to pressure the quarterback though, resulting in Bradford's terrible completion percentage.
There were positives to this game for the Cardinals, they got Rob Housler involved, Larry seems to be catching passes again, Early Doucet looks like he’s not ready to surrender the 3rd wide receiver spot, and Daryll Washington and Patrick Peterson are rising young superstars on that defense. The Cardinals did not look like the same team against the Rams. This terrible game against the Rams was an away game, on primetime, in a short week, against a divisional rival, after an emotional overtime win. There are no excuses in the NFL though, and now for the Cardinals, it is gut check time.