Arizona vs. Carolina Full Roster Report Card Grades for Arizona
The Arizona Cardinals defeated the Carolina Panthers 22-6 Sunday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium for their second consecutive win. The Cardinals stand at 3-2 for the season and are just one game behind the Seattle Seahawks for first place in the NFC West after they lost 34-28 to the Indianapolis Colts.
The return of linebacker Daryl Washington sparked the team on defense and they recorded seven sacks and three interceptions on the day.
Start the slideshow and see how each of the positional units graded out. Stats come from the game's box score on ESPN.com.
Quarterback: Carson Palmer.
Palmer struggled against the Panthers. He finished the day with 19-of-28 passing for 175 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and was intercepted three times. Palmer was sacked twice for a total of 15 yards in losses.
With this outing, it looks like Palmer isn't having the same success he did earlier this season. In two of his last three games, Palmer has thrown for fewer than 200 yards. He's been intercepted in every game this season and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 5-to-9 after five games.
Palmer has been kept upright by the offensive line so they can't be wholly blamed for the issues he had in this game or this season.
Running Backs: Rashard Mendenhall, Andre Ellington, Alfonso Smith and Stepfan Taylor.
Mendenhall and Ellington had the carries while Taylor has been relegated to special teams.
Despite scoring a touchdown, Mendenhall isn't running effectively. It took him 17 carries to get to 43 yards in this game against Carolina. By comparison, Ellington ran or 52 yards on seven carries and added 31 yards on four receptions. Smith had a carry for -2 yards and three catches for 20 yards on the day.
The Arizona ground game is still in the lower tier of the league as it averaged 78 yards per game prior to the Carolina tilt. Last season, they averaged 75 yards per game and were dead last in that area. Not much has changed this season.
Wide Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Andre Roberts and Jaron Brown.
The wide receivers haven't been very active in recent games since Palmer has had lackluster play. Floyd led the way with 61 yards and Fitzgerald added 43 more in the win.
Roberts went without a catch and has virtually vanished off of the radar. Including this game, Roberts has two catches for a total of 12 yards in his last three games. Brown wasn't targeted.
You can blame the quarterback play as it impacts this unit, but the wide receivers need to do more to be productive. Fitzgerald's best game of the season was his 80-yard game with two touchdowns against the St. Louis Rams. Since then, he's failed to hit 70 yards in a game.
Tight ends: Rob Housler, Jim Dray and Kory Sperry.
This unit has gone from one with potential to one who could be on the side of a milk carton.
Dray (pictured) had two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown, the first of his NFL career. Housler had no catches and Sperry came in to block.
Much more was expected out of the tight end position given how Palmer connected with Brandon Myers in Oakland last season. Myers had 105 targets which led to 79 receptions, 806 yards and four touchdowns when he teamed with Palmer, according to his stats on ESPN.com.
The Cardinals are not even close to that.
Offensive line: Bradley Sowell, Daryn Colledge, Lyle Sendlein, Paul Faniaka and Eric Winston.
The Arizona offensive line went through a significant change in the past week. The Cardinals traded Levi Brown to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a conditional, late-round draft pick. Sowell got the start at left tackle and held up well.
The offensive line only allowed two sacks and was able to open up some holes in the running game, but nothing truly outstanding.
Defensive Line: Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Alameda Ta'amu, Dan Williams and Ronald Talley.
The defensive line knew it had a tough task in front of them and they lived up to the billing. Campbell recorded a safety (pictured) when he sacked Newton in the end zone. Campbell had a second tackle for loss as well. Dockett and Ta'amu recorded quarterback hits.
The line produced pressure and it produced points. That's a good day for this group.
Linebackers: Daryl Washington, Karlos Dansby, John Abraham, Dontay Moch and Matt Shaughnessy.
Washington (pictured) made his season debut after serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He made his impact immediately. Washington led the Cardinals with nine tackles (eight solo) and three tackles for loss. He recorded two sacks and an interception that he returned 41 yards.
Dansby was stellar with eight tackles, including two sacks. Dansby also had an interception with a three-yard return. The Arizona linebackers were strong against the run and forced the Panthers to try and win the game with passes.
Defensive backs: Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Antione Cason, Justin Bethel, Yeremiah Bell and Jerraud Powers.
The defensive backs had a solid game. Peterson made an interception and Cason recovered a fumble. Mathieu recorded a sack that was one of seven Arizona had on the day. Bethel was solid on special teams.
The downside was that the unit allowed 308 passing yards to Cam Newton. Carolina came into the game 32nd in passing with 170 yards per game. Giving up that many yards kept Carolina around in the game for a while longer than they should have been. Four different receivers gained at least 45 yards in the game for Carolina so it wasn't just one Panther doing the damage.
Special Teams: Dave Zastudil (punter), Jay Feely (kicker) and Mike Leach (long snapper).
Feely (right) hit both of his field goals and both of his extra points. His field goals came from 42 and 50 yards away. Converting from those distances should inspire more confidence from long range. Zastudil was only needed for four punts on the day and he dropped them inside the 20-yard line twice.
The special teams unit has been one of the most consistent groups on the team this season.