Cardinals vs Redskins: 5 Second-Half Adjustments Arizona Must Make
The Cardinals are doing their best to stay in the game, but the way that many pieces of the team are playing this is a losing battle. Particularly with the long drive toward the end of the second half, the Redskins have shown that they aren't going down without a fight.
The Cardinals will have 15 minutes at half time to make some adjustments to try to improve their performance in the second half of the game. Here are five areas that definitely have some room for improvement.
1. Avoid Stupid Penalties
Stupid penalties are a pain at the best of times, but giving the opposition another three downs to try for your end zone is ridiculous. Regardless of who started the argument, all that matters at the end of the play is who got caught, and who was flagged.
Tim Hightower may have started it, but Kerry Rhodes was the one who finished it as far as the referees were concerned. He breathed new life into the Redskins offense that would have settled for a field goal, moving them to just 10 yards from the end zone.
Fortunately for Rhodes, he was rescued by teammate Adrian Wilson’s interception a few plays later.
There have been uncalled penalties too, most notably on A. J. Jefferson for his interference on the second Cardinals interception
2. Kevin Kolb Needs to Buckle Down and Focus
Making stupid throws isn’t something a quarterback wants to become known for, but if Kevin Kolb doesn’t clean up his act it’s going to become the expectation.
Throwing while under pressure may not be Kolb’s strongest point, but that doesn’t mean he needs to practically gift-wrap the ball for the Redskins’ defense whenever he can’t make an easy completion to a wide open receiver.
Kolb needs to calm down and recognize that despite the pressure he does have time and options on the field if he can just be patient enough to allow them to open up. In cases where the pressure is too much, Kolb needs to remember that he has the option to simply throw the ball away.
3. The Offensive Line Needs to Step Up
Although the quarterback is the most notable player when there’s trouble on offense, the reason pressure gets to the quarterback is often a breakdown in the offensive line’s play.
It has been discussed in the past that one of Arizona’s greatest weaknesses is a lack of experience and depth at offensive line, but today they are being exposed in a big way by the Redskins’ defense.
The Cardinals need to run more plays that will get some protection to the quarterback, taking advantage of some of the additional blocking that their tight ends can bring to buttress the offensive line.
4. Establish the Running Game and Get the Defense off the Field
The Cardinals had the lead for most of the first half, but no longer. The Redskins are dominating the time of possession in the first half, and they’ve been rewarded with a halftime lead. This is an unsustainable combination that will eventually tip into the Redskins’ favor.
The defense has done a phenomenal job in keeping points off the board, an effort that will be all for naught if the Cardinals cannot put together some sustained offensive drives. Taking a few long lobs down the field doesn’t count.
The best way to keep the offense going for longer than a couple of plays at a time is to establish and sustain the running game. Beanie Wells has been offered the ball just a handful of times going into the half. That number needs to increase to help the Cardinals control the clock and give their defense a break.
5. Get Larry Fitzgerald Involved in the Game
The Cardinals paid a lot of money to ensure that Larry Fitzgerald not only remains in Arizona after the season ends, but also to give him one less concern on the field at game time.
They need to actually use their offensive weapon more frequently. Catching just two passes for dink-and-dunk yardage is not an effective use of one of the best receivers in the game. They must find a way at halftime to get Fitzgerald open and get the ball to him.