For the first time since 1974, the Arizona Cardinals have a perfect 4-0 record to begin the season. At the start of the year, even the most positive fans and writers were not expecting this. There was a chance that they could go 3-1, but 4-0 was almost unthinkable.
With such a big turnaround, you would assume that Arizona has come a long way over the past 10 months or so, but that is not the case.
As much as it has been covered up, the offensive line is arguably worse than it was last year and the Cardinals' running game is a mess.
Looking back to last year, they struggled early on because both their defense and offense were not that great.
As the year progressed, the defense was getting better and Beanie Wells was having a breakout season. This resulted in a 7-2 finish.
Even though the defense was developing into a top unit, there were still too many closely contested games as a result of poor offense.
That has been turned around this year because of the play of Kevin Kolb. His statistics and record are much better and he has already put Arizona in a good position to make the playoffs.
Here are a couple of reasons why Kolb and the Cardinals have had success so far this year.
Last year, both Kolb and John Skelton seemed to have costly turnovers in just about every game.
There were 22 interceptions and four fumbles lost between the two quarterbacks last season, which translates to just under two turnovers per game.
Turning the ball over was a huge problem for the Cardinals last season. They finished 28th in the league with a minus-13 turnover differential.
Looking at San Francisco, it was first in the league with a plus-28 turnover differential in 2011. Alex Smith’s ability to not turn the ball over helped the 49ers win a lot of football games.
Through four games this season, Kolb has just two interceptions and one fumble lost. Arizona has the sixth-best turnover differential at plus-4. Some of this can be attributed to plays made by the defense, but a lot of credit goes to the quarterback for limiting the turnovers on offense.
Overcoming the Offensive Line
A lot of words came out of my mouth when I first found out that Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges were injured. Frankly, not too many of them can be repeated.
With these men going down, Arizona has had to start D’Anthony Batiste and Bobby Massie at the two tackle spots.
Both players have played well at times, but have also been awful on certain occasions. Batiste has struggled for most of the year and Massie was manhandled by Cameron Wake this past Sunday.
The offensive line was pretty bad last season, but not nearly as bad as it is this year. The difference is that, last year, Kolb did a very poor job of dealing with pressure. He took a lot of sacks and scrambled unnecessarily at times.
This season, he is not nearly as fazed by the pressure. For the most part, he has stepped up in the pocket when needed and is not running around when he doesn’t have to.
For just four games, Kevin Kolb has put up some pretty impressive numbers. The best thing about him, though, is not his stats or his record. It is that he has improved on his areas of weakness from last season and he knows his role.
Arizona has one of the best defenses in football and Kolb knows that he is not going to have to put up 300 yards every week. He has to manage the game and that is exactly what he is doing thus far.
The comparison between Kolb and the Alex Smith of 2011 are already being made. What makes the situation different is that the Cardinals have a worse offensive line and their running game has not been much better.
Kevin Kolb has improved greatly over the past year and it is his play that has turned the Arizona Cardinals into a title contender.