Cardinals vs. Packers: Live Game Grades, Analysis for Arizona

Shaun ChurchContributor INovember 4, 2012

Cardinals vs. Packers: Live Game Grades, Analysis for Arizona

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    Green Bay 31, Arizona 17

    There were far too many miscues to count from all levels of the Arizona Cardinals organization during this game. From players not making plays to coaches not calling correct plays, and an instance in which a challenge flag should have been thrown and was not, this game was a mess.

    Perhaps to be expected, heading into Lambeau Field to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, but the game Sunday was still disturbing to watch.

    The Cardinals have now lost five straight games and sit at 4-5. What was a more than surprising start to the 2012 season is quickly unraveling to become just another disappointing season after the retirement of short-time franchise savior Kurt Warner.

    Final grades are ahead.

John Skelton, D+

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    Final Grade: D+

    Skelton’s 23-of-46, 306-yard, one-touchdown afternoon will be masked by receiver drops and missed opportunities. He is not the main cause of the fifth consecutive loss by Arizona, but he played a contributing role, certainly.

    He made some big-time throws that kept drives going, and he had a pass intercepted on the first play of the second half. He received better pass blocking, but not enough was done to take advantage of the time he had. 


    Fourth Quarter: D

    Skelton did what he could, but missing receivers at big moments is just as much to blame as those receivers dropping passes when he does find them. He completed 7-of-12 during the quarter, but key incompletions hampered any thought of another fourth-quarter comeback.


    Third Quarter: C

    Skelton struggled this quarter. He made some good throws—including a 31-yard catch-and-run to Larry Fitzgerald—but he also missed some throws. Completing 9-of-17 passes with an interception keeps his grade lower than it could be, and drops are not helping him, either.


    Second Quarter: B-

    A quick touchdown drive off a William Gay interception of Aaron Rodgers tied the game at 7-7 just into the second quarter. The one-yard TD run by LaRod Stephens-Howling was set up by Skelton and his 40-yard strike to Andre Roberts.

    Roberts is responsible for the two longest plays from scrimmage for Arizona this season: the aforementioned pass from Skelton and a 46-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Kolb against the Miami Dolphins during a Week 4 victory.

    That was about it for the Cardinals offense that quarter, however. Rodgers had the ball for the majority of the time.


    First Quarter: C

    Skelton has been sacked once already, that coming on the first drive of the game. He is 3-of-9 for 29 yards so far.

    He has been seen changing the original play at the line of scrimmage, so it seems he is being given more control of the offense. That is a welcome sight for Cardinals fans. Perhaps he can generate drives as the game continues.

Offense, D

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    Final Grade: D

    The run game performed better for the majority of the game. LaRod Stephens-Howling carried 17 times for 51 yards and a touchdown, but the Cards could not do enough to stay in the game.

    The offensive line allowed only two sacks all day, and that includes zero allowed by rookie left tackle Nate Potter, who stepped in for D’Anthony Batiste midway through the first quarter. He did a nice job against Clay Matthews, who was held without a sack. He was also held without a tackle for only the second time in his four-year career.

    Oddly, the only other time he was held without a tackle was the final week of the regular season in 2009—a game against the Cardinals.


    Fourth Quarter: D-

    Ending whatever slim chances the team had at a comeback late in the game, Andre Roberts dropped a pass on fourth down that would have netted a first down. Fitting. The run game was abandoned as the quarter got going, as the team needed yards in chunks.

    Skelton was mediocre and could not provide the big plays needed.


    Third Quarter: D

    Five drops from Cardinals receivers are killing the offense today. They cannot do anything right when they need to. Tight end Rob Housler is responsible for one of those drops, but he is making up for it by providing first downs when the team needs them.

    Stephens-Howling is rushing the ball much better today; it helped this quarter.


    Second Quarter: C-

    A rushing touchdown from LSH from a yard out gave the team a bit of momentum at the start of the quarter. That momentum was crushed by two long drives from Green Bay during the quarter, and they were not able to get much done. Drops from Early Doucet are killing any offensive momentum Skelton has going.

    Doucet had three in the first half.


    First Quarter: C

    The initial drive of the game provided no sparks and another three-and-out. Skelton was sacked on third down to force the punt.

    On the second possession, they were able to get a first down, but the drive ultimately stalled after that. Larry Fitzgerald nearly came down with a great catch on the sideline, but cornerback Tremon Williams made an even better play to knock the ball loose as Fitz fell out of bounds.

Defense, C

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    Final Grade: C

    Overall, tackling was better against Green Bay than it was against the San Francisco 49ers. One play by safety Adrian Wilson led to the first score of the game, however.

    Randall Cobb caught a quick slant and headed toward Wilson, who engaged for a touchdown-saving tackle on third down. But Wilson launched into Cobb with his arms straight down at his sides, and Cobb spun off Wilson and scored.

    Cobb had a good day offensively, with three receptions for 37 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed the ball three times for 29 more yards.

    The defense got to Aaron Rodgers only once on the day, a split sack by Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell. Rodgers—who completed just 14-of-30 for 218 yards but threw four touchdowns—had all day to throw.

    Green Bay did rush for 176 yards on 39 carries. That is disappointing for a defense that was hoping to improve upon a decent effort against Frank Gore last week.


    Fourth Quarter: B+

    The defense did all it could do to allow the offense a chance to get back in it. They allowed three first downs in the quarter and kept them from adding any further damage, but said damage had already been done.


    Third Quarter: C-

    Arizona stifled Rodgers all throughout the third quarter. He completed just 2-of-8. He ended the quarter with a 72-yard pass to tight end Tom Crabtree, however, and that drops the grade from what was a B+.

    Rodgers was kept off the field for the most part because of three three-and-outs during the quarter, but a lapse in coverage by linebacker Paris Lenon allowed the big tight end to get behind him.


    Second Quarter: C

    Now allowing big chunks of yards to Rodgers through the passing game and through the running game, the defense has been on the field a lot so far. Running back Alex Green is averaging 6.5 yards per carry; Rodgers is at 9.3 YPC.

    Speaking of Rodgers, he started slowly but is now undressing the Arizona secondary. His two touchdown passes during the second quarter have the Packers out to a 21-7 halftime lead.


    First Quarter: B

    Being set back deep inside their own territory on the first drive from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense, they yielded nothing, forcing a sack and a hurry of Rodgers. Kicker Mason Crosby then missed a short field-goal attempt on fourth down.

    The second drive was not as productive. Rodgers was able to get the Packers into the end zone on their second drive—a 13-yard catch-and-run to Randall Cobb. On the scoring play, Cards safety Adrian Wilson attempted a tackle, but he did not use his arms at all. Even those of you who have never played a down of football at any level know that is not how to do it.

Special Teams, D

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    Final Grade: D

    Punter Dave Zastudil has been good this season. But today, he was just bad. Of his eight punts, only one traveled 50 yards or more—a 65-yard effort.

    They also had an issue in coverage. Cobb accounted for 136 yards of returns between punts and kickoffs on just six total returns. He set Rodgers up with good field position more than once.

    Patrick Peterson muffed two punts, losing one at the end of the game. He has really struggled this season as the punt returner; a vast turnaround from his record-setting rookie season in which he was directly responsible for two victories.


    Fourth Quarter: D-

    Patrick Peterson muffed a punt return, giving it over to Green Bay near the end of regulation. Holding onto the ball would not have given the Cardinals any greater chance at victory, but it was just another miscue in a game full of them.


    Third Quarter: C-

    Another big return from Cobb—who is having a huge game—opened the second half and set Rodgers up with the ball near midfield. The defense held Green Bay to a field goal.

    Jay Feely added a late-quarter field goal.


    Second Quarter: C

    There were no significant special-teams plays during the second quarter.


    First Quarter: D

    Punter Dave Zastudil sent his first punt of the afternoon—from his own end zone—on a line to midfield, where Randall Cobb took it 28 yards to inside the Cardinals 20.

    The defense forced a missed field goal, however.

Coaching, D

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    Final Grade: D

    One play in the second quarter took what was a mediocre play-calling performance and turned it into a disaster. The decision not to challenge the spot of the ball on a called first down cost the team a four-point deficit, as a would-be field goal was turned into a touchdown on the following play.

    Offensive coordinator Mike Miller called a predictable game once again. There was no flare, no spark from a trick play and one run play everyone saw coming.

    It seems there is at least one play every week called by Miller that everyone sees coming—players, fans, announcers. It might be time to find a new play-caller.

    Defensively, Ray Horton called a good game against Aaron Rodgers. Execution was not always there, and that led to several big plays. The pass rush was non-existent, and that allowed Rodgers time to make those plays when his team needed them.


    Fourth Quarter: B-

    Packers running back James Starks carried the ball 10 times in the final frame. Up two touchdowns, it is all that was needed. Having been on the field nearly 30 minutes entering the fourth quarter, the defense was worn out.

    They did an admirable job stopping the run game, but knowing what was coming, they could have done a better job.

    Offensively, the plays were there. Dropped passes and missed throws stalled drives.


    Third Quarter: C+

    Some good, some bad on offense. The play-calling was largely predictable once again when they needed to get into the end zone, and they were forced to settle for a Jay Feely field goal near the end of the quarter.

    The defensive play-calling was brilliant. Save for one bad play from Lenon, it was a perfect quarter from Horton.


    Second Quarter: F

    Coach Ken Whisenhunt had a chance to challenge a terrible spot of the football that gave Green Bay a first down deep inside Cardinals’ territory. It was third down before the call was made, and it would have forced a field-goal attempt from Crosby. The next play was Cobb’s second touchdown reception from Rodgers.


    First Quarter: C

    Defensive coordinator Ray Horton has dialed up the pressure early and often on Rodgers. His defense, however, allowed a touchdown pass to Rodgers on a long 3rd-and-goal slant to Cobb.

    On offense, the play-calling has been decent. The run-blocking appears to be better this week, and though they have run the ball just twice, it has been more successful so far. Skelton has changed the play call from the line of scrimmage on an occasion or two, so it appears he is being given more leeway with the offense.