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Cardinals' defense getting the short end?

12/14/2009

Spooney from Phoenix recently graced the NFC West mailbag with a theory about his Cardinals.

"Seems to me that most teams tried to follow the dink-and-dunk blueprint against the Cards' defense that San Francisco beat them with in Week 1," he wrote. "(Defensive coordinator) Bill Davis seems to have made adjustments accordingly. He has stuffed the line of scrimmage, giving his boys a double advantage: gonna stop the run, and pressure the QB into quick throws."

Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information crunched some numbers looking at how Cardinals opponents have fared on passes traveling 10 yards or less in the air. Opponents have indeed fared better in the games opponents have won (103.9 rating on these passes) vs. the games Arizona has won (77.9 rating). But this wasn't always the case. The Titans were relatively inefficient on these throws. Perhaps that partially explains why they needed an improbable 99-yard drive to win.

The short of it

The chart shows how the Cardinals' opponents have fared on passes 10 yards or shorter this season. The 49ers' Shaun Hill had a 101.5 rating on these throws against Arizona in Week 1. The 49ers' current quarterback, Alex Smith, has completed 115 of 174 such passes for 849 yards, six touchdowns, one interception and an 86.6 rating this season.