Cardinals: The Good News and the Bad News
Kurt Warner (Getty)
Kurt Warner (Getty)

Posted Oct 2, 2009
scout.com


The Cardinals spent the bye week trying to pay attention to the details they think have contributed greatly to their two losses. But, really, the problems can't be considered details. It's not a detail that against the Colts the club lost a fumble at the Colts' 5 and had a pass intercepted in the end zone. It's not a detail that the Cardinals then let the Colts go 95 yards for a touchdown.

It's not a detail when Kurt Warner has been sacked seven times in the two losses, with a minimal amount of blitzes.

Those should be major areas of concern, and if the Cardinals don't shore them up, it's going to be a long season.

Offensive left tackle Mike Gandy and right tackle Levi Brown have struggled in the losses, and the Cardinals inability to block the edge is a growing concern. Over the next three weeks, the Cardinals face some elite edge rushers in Houston's Mario Williams, Seattle's Patrick Kerney, and any number of ends the Giants can throw out there.

The development of the run game would help, too. The Cardinals are having trouble getting the ball deep to Larry Fitzgerald, whose longest gain is 25 yards. A consistent run game could open up the play-action attack, giving Fitzgerald a chance to beat the safety that usually plays over the top against him.

GOOD NEWS: The Cardinals aren't deceiving themselves, however, when they say they are close to becoming a good team. The defense has looked solid in two of the three games, although it took a huge step backward against the Colts.

On offense, big plays are open but they aren't being made. There has been a block missed here, a wrong route run there, a ball overthrown occasionally.

But that's the lament of losing teams everywhere. If the Cardinals don't correct those mistakes soon, they will find themselves battling just to reach .500.

While the Cardinals aren't crazy about having a bye this early in the season, it should help bring them back to full health, or close to it. It will give quarterback Kurt Warner time to rest a sore right shoulder. Defensive end Darnell Dockett should be back from a sprained ankle.

Receivers Steve Breaston (knee) and Anquan Boldin (hamstring) have been limited in the first three games, too.

BAD NEWS: The Cardinals already are 0-2 at home after going 14-4 there the previous two seasons. And they don't appear to have learned much from their playoff run last season.

The defense is fast, fairly young and talented, but it's also immature. That's led to a couple of key breakdowns in the two losses. In the opener, the Cardinals stifled running back Frank Gore most of the day, then let quarterback Shaun Hill pick them apart on an 80-yard drive late.

Against the Colts, the defense played well in the first quarter, then let Indianapolis go on a 95-yard touchdown drive. There have been too many blown coverages, and the club hasn't been able to get consistent pressure on the quarterback.

Offensively, the line has been inconsistent throughout. The tackles, Levi Brown and Mike Gandy, have been susceptible to speed rushers. The Cardinals must be able to block the edges when they go to their spread formation, one of its most effective schemes.



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