Arizona Cardinals: Ten Changes We'd All Like to See In The Desert
There are losses in the NFL. Every team loses. Well, except the '72 Dolphins.
Some losses are just hard to take.
This is one of them. I've been dreaded this article. I really have.
I wrote a similar one a few weeks back after a frustrating loss, and it's time for some more changes, in my opinion.
Some major changes.
I wouldn't be this insistent if I didn't truly believe that the Cardinals had the talent. Or that they couldn't win the division. But they do, and they still can actually.
You know that of right now, the Cardinals may have the easiest remaining schedule, based off records so far?
There's still hope for Arizona, but something has to change.
1. Make The Run Game a Priority
I think we were all deceived this year. We all thought the run would set up the pass this year with Kurt Warner gone.
It hasn't. The run game hasn't been there.
Of course, a lot has to do with Warner being gone. Defenses had to respect him, so they couldn't crash on runs in case it was play action, leaving more room for Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells.
Not the case this year, as the Cardinals passing game has been very inconsistent.
And there's a reason the coaching staff hasn't tried to force the run—because it's been inconsistent as well.
But the Cardinals must, repeat must, be able to start running the ball.
I don't care if they don't win a game the rest of the year. They have to be able to run the ball, because they can't just pick up another Kurt Warner in the offseason.
They have to run to set up the pass, like a lof of NFL teams do.
I realize there's more talent in the passing game (namely the receivers), but this is the best way to open that up I believe.
2. Get LaRod Stephens-Howling More Involved in The Run Game
I've become a broken record on this subject I'm afraid. But the fact of the matter is, when the Hyphen gets involved, things happen.
The problem is that the Cardinals haven't gotten him all that involved in the run game (with the exception of the first game).
Sure, they've given him some draw plays and runs up the middle, which, quite frankly, don't make any sense, given the fact that he has got speed. A lot of it.
Speaking of which, this leads me to my next point.
3. Run The Ball Outside
I've also noted a few times that the Cardinals tend to do much better on counters, pitches, and other quick runs to the outside—where their speed plays an advantage.
So what do they do most of the time? Run the ball up the middle for a yard.
Now, I'm exaggerating of course, and not all of their run plays to the outside work, nor should they constantly run to the outside.
But when you run to the outside once a game, and it works, and you don't go back to it, it doesn't make any sense.
4. More Play Action
This goes right along with my No. 1 point, and will lead to my next point, which puts a nice bow tie on these offensive points.
If the Cardinals can run the ball, and stay consistent in doing so, then the play action should help the passing game more than spreading the field with four receivers when you want to pass.
Speaking of which....
5. Change The Play Calling On Offense
I've mentioned this before as well, and all of the previous points kind of add up to this anyway.
But this needs to happen, even if the previous four don't happen.
If something isn't working, and the Cardinals offense isn't (don't let Anderson's stats fool you), it's time for a change. To me, and to everyone else it seems, it's way to obvious when the Cardinals pass, and when they run.
Hence, bring in more play action to keep the defense guessing. Or, they could spread the field out and run it.
Either way, they need to keep opposing defenses off balance, something they haven't been doing this year.
6. Start John Skelton
I think we've all seen what Derek Anderson can do. Unfortunately, we've all seen maybe all that Max Hall can do.
They need to find out whether Skelton can be their guy in 2011. And plus, can he really do much worse than what Anderson and Hall have done?
Don't be fooled by Anderson's stats last game. He didn't get the job done.
7. Replace Greg Toler
I don't care with who right now. But Greg got toasted last week. Bad.
Mike Williams only seems to go off against the Cardinals doesn't he? (That's not the case, but Mike's two best games have come against Arizona).
There's a reason for it, and it rhymes with Foler.
8. Start Daryl Washington Again
Along the same lines as Skelton, Washington could use even more experience than he's gotten already.
I hate to say this, but I'd sit Paris Lenon right now. As much as Paris has done this season, he along with Hayes seem to be a liability in the pass game.
Washington has the speed to make plays on the edge a la Karlos Dansby and can cover better than Hayes or Lenon it seems, even as a rookie.
9. Mix Up The Pass Coverages
For a couple of games there, the Cardinals pass defense was doing quite well. They shut down the Saints, and did quite well against the Seahawks.
But the Bucs, Vikings, and then the Seahawks absolutely dominated the Cardinals secondary.
And let's be frank: there's too much talent in this secondary for that to happen. So mix up the coverages like you did in the New Orleans and Seattle games. Something worked.
If something works, usually you do it again.
10. Mix Up The Blitzes
Kind of like with the offensive playcalling, it is rather obvious when the Cardinals are going to blitz. If the Cardinals are going to confuse opposing offenses, they can't have that happen.
So instead of creeping up Adrian Wilson and then blitzing him rather obviously, send him back into coverage every other time. Send linebackers and back off defensive lineman into coverage.
These are just a few examples I have in my limited knowledge on the complicated blitzing schemes of the NFL.
But something has to be done here as well. It's not like the pass rush is the reason for all the Cardinals defense's problems, but it is a major factor.