Arizona Cardinals Progress Report: Where Do Things Stand Heading into Week 15?
Nine straight losses in a row after four convincing wins in a row to start the season. I never thought this Arizona Cardinals team would face such a deficit, mainly because of defensive coordinator Ray Horton and his strong defensive attack. Yet, that just goes to show what happens when your most reliable quarterback gets injured for three-fourths of the season.
Despite losing 58-0 to the Seattle Seahawks, Ken Whisenhunt's club is not 58-0 bad. Sure, they have only managed to average 14.3 points per game, the league's lowest mark, and they have the least amount of yards in the NFL, but they have a top-10 defense.
However, that 14.3 points per game from the offense has actually been 10.8 points per game since Kevin Kolb exited the lineup due to injury. It's hard to expect to win many games when you average just over a touchdown and a field goal a game. No defense that is on the field for long periods of time could hold the opposition to under that number.
Regardless, before we look ahead to Week 15, let's take a look at the good, the bad and everything in between from Week 14.
In the midst of the worst blowout in franchise history, it's hard to find many bright spots. Four-hundred and-ninety-three yards allowed is nothing to praise, and eight total turnovers won't impress anyone. But if you dig a little bit deeper, you may find a couple of noteworthy individual performances.
Most notable is second-year cornerback Patrick Peterson. Even if the defense as a whole has a bad game, you can always seem to count on Peterson to provide light at the end of the tunnel. According to the analysts over at Pro Football Focus, he was one of only five defense players to finish with a positive grade.
Moreover, he was the lone player to finish with a grade above plus-1.3. His plus-two grade spoke for itself as he had the Seahawks' wide receiver corp on lock down. Opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn attempted only two passes into his coverage area.
One of the two throws was a 27-yard completion to Doug Baldwin late in the game, but the other throw was intended for Golden Tate down the sideline. Despite the fact Tate has been making highlight-reel catches weekly, Peterson outworked and out-positioned him for his sixth interception of the season.
He is now tied for second overall in the NFL with six interceptions. Only the Chicago Bears' Tim Jennings has picked more balls off, as he has eight interceptions on the season. It's doubtful that he gets to 14 picks by season's end (the franchise record), but with continued steady play, Peterson may turn out to be one of Rod Graves' best draft selections.
Week 15 presents a whole new challenge, as No. 21 will take on the NFL's best wide receiver, Calvin Johnson. Johnson is just 303 yards short of Jerry Rice's single season record of 1,849 yards receiving. So, you better believe "Megatron" will be bringing his A-game with Rice's record in sight.
On a day when your defense allows 44 points and your offense doesn't score, it's tough to decided who is more at fault. Yet, I'm going to have to go with the offense on this one—more specifically John Skelton after he turned the ball over five times.
As many of you know, I lobbied for Skelton when he was replaced by rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley, but I must admit when I'm wrong, and boy, was I wrong. To me it's a bit of a head-scratcher because Skelton has won more than a handful of games for the Cards over the last two years, but Sunday he looked like he was at his all-time worst.
Skelton can't blame it on protection because the protection was actually average against a stout Seattle front seven. Plain and simple, his decision-making was flat-out awful at times. He would try to thread the needle to Larry Fitzgerald when Fitz had two or three defenders draped all over him.
His poor decision-making skills reflected his poor output—he was 11-of-22 on the day for 74 yards and four interceptions without a touchdown to his name, and based on ESPN's quarterback rating system, he registered a 0.4; yes, a 0.4 rating is possible.
The worst part about his four-interception day was the fact three of the four interceptions came when there was absolutely no pressure on him whatsoever. Only one of the picks came when there was pressure from the defense. Skelton now has two touchdown passes and nine interceptions on the season.
With Kolb on injured reserve, Arizona claimed quarterback Brian Hoyer off waivers. He appears to be an instant upgrade over both Skelton and Lindley. However, Whisenhunt announced today that Lindley will get the start at home against Detroit in Week 15.
Stock Watch (Week By Week Evaluation)
Rising: Bobby Massie
More positive marks for rookie right tackle Bobby Massie. Massie finished the game allowing only one quarterback hit and one quarterback hurry. It marks the fifth week in a row that he hasn't surrendered a quarterback sack. He's been a nice mid-season improvement for the Cardinals.
Falling: Nate Potter
Massie's fellow rookie and tackle Nate Potter didn't quite have such an impressive game. You could probably say it was the worst game of his young career, but that tends to happen when you square off against Chris Clemons one-on-one. He surrendered two sacks, one hit and one hurry.
Rising: Paris Lenon
Inside linebacker Paris Lenon usually finds himself on the wrong end of this list, yet Week 14 proved to be one of his few good games this season. He recorded 13 solo tackles, seven defensive stops and one batted pass at the line of scrimmage.
Falling: Darnell Dockett
In Week 1, Darnell Dockett dominated the line of scrimmage and single-handedly wrecked the Seahawks run game. But the same didn't ring true this past Sunday, as John Moffitt ate Dockett up run after run. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell also called more run plays away from No. 90. Whatever the scheme was worked, because Dockett ended up being a non-factor.
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