Unfortunately, the Cardinals followed up a dominant first-half performance by what has become their typical trend of falling apart in the second half.
Regardless of the outcome, we always learn new things (and reaffirm old beliefs) about a team when they take the field. Over the next seven slides, we’ll take a look at some things that we learned about the Cardinals during their 24-27 loss to the Ravens.
Kevin Kolb has his fair share of problems, but there’s a larger issue that needs to be addressed.
His offensive line is killing him.
Against the Ravens, Kolb was sacked six times. That doesn’t count the double-digit hurry-ups and knockdowns. There is absolutely no excuse for that kind of pressure on a quarterback.
Levi Brown is easily the biggest problem. Benching him and bringing in practically anybody else would probably immediately improve the offensive line’s performance.
I’m not jumping on a Kevin Kolb bandwagon here. He doesn’t deserve that yet.
But I might be jumping off the “cut Kolb” bandwagon for the time being.
During the beginning part of the game and parts of the second half, he showed signs of feeling comfortable in the Cardinals offense. He flat-out outplayed Joe Flacco in the first half of the game.
He’s still got a long way to go, but if we can continue to see those small signs of improvement each week, it’s possible that he could gradually evolve into a quarterback that the Cardinals shouldn’t be embarrassed to have starting.
Whether it’s the long bomb downfield or fighting for yards after the catch on short tosses, Larry Fitzgerald gets the job done every week.
He’s a nothing short of a force to be reckoned with on the field.
This week, fans were treated to still more examples of Fitzgerald’s athleticism and physical prowess. At one point, it took three Ravens defenders to stop him from advancing for additional yards after the catch.
Sure, there are other wide receivers on the field who are amazing. Most of them, however, are surrounded by (and being thrown to by) much greater talent than Fitzgerald's supporting cast.
Sloppy tackling allowed Joe Flacco to make a difference on the ground when he couldn’t do it in the air. Time and again he was able to extend drives with his feet despite Cardinals defenders throwing themselves all over him.
That’s not to mention the inability to stop the run game. They held Ray Rice to just 63 yards on the ground, but that number would have been much lower if he had been brought down at the first contact.
LaRod Stephens-Howling is a difficult player to assess.
On the one hand, he has the versatility to be a huge danger on the field. He’s got the speed to contribute to the running game beyond his excellent kickoff returns.
The problem is that Stephens-Howling can’t seem to stay healthy for a significant stretch of time. Over the last couple of years, he has certainly earned the “injury-prone” label.
Hopefully, he’ll be able to stay healthy and improve his effectiveness on the field beyond his kick returns.
For several years, the special teams game in Arizona has been dominated by the dangerous LaRod Stephens Howling. It appears that now he has company.
With a dual special teams threat on kickoff returns and punt returns, the Cardinals can at least demand some respect in that aspect of the game.
This isn’t the first, second or even third time this year that the Cardinals have been in the lead during the second half. Sadly, it’s also not the first, second or even third time this year that they’ve managed to blow a late lead.
The offense and the defense are both to blame. The defense seems to forget how to accomplish basic coverage and tackling, while the offense seems determined to give the ball away.
The Cardinals certainly have the raw talent to win some of the games that they’ve let slip away. They’ve proved that they can be competitive and that they can put points on the board (some of the time). They just need to figure out how to finish the job.