Friday, September 23, 2011
2011 Cardinals Week 2: Five observations
By Mike Sando
Five things I noticed while watching the Arizona Cardinals' 22-21 defeat to the Washington Redskins in Week 2:
- Confusing penalty situation early. Officials flagged Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes for unnecessary roughness on the Redskins' first possession. I thought officials flagged Rhodes because Rhodes' hand had inadvertently struck an official during a fight involving several players. Looking at replays, the offending hand actually belonged to Redskins tackle Jammal Brown. Rhodes was not fined for the play.
- Jeff King gets featured. Todd Heap's signing was supposed to mean more than King's signing for the Cardinals' passing game, but King was the only tight end on the field when he caught a 21-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. The Cardinals went with base personnel (two backs, one tight end) on this play. Larry Fitzgerald was on the weak side, with King releasing freely. King has two touchdowns in as many games for Arizona. The Cardinals have targeted him five times and Heap three times.
- Early Doucet is the second-best WR. Andre Roberts dropped a ball. Chansi Stuckey fumbled. Doucet, who had a 70-yard scoring reception in Week 1, impressed with a short reception over the middle in traffic for a third-down conversion. The Cardinals have targeted Doucet seven times on third down, most on the team. Four of those targets produced first downs, including the 70-yarder. A fifth went for a 12-yard gain on third-and-25.
- Beanie Wells blocked Brian Orakpo. It happened midway through the third quarter, but the interception Kevin Kolb threw on the play got all the attention. Wells, who enjoyed a strong second half running the ball, has not been known for his work in pass protection. He walled off Orakpo on this play, giving Kolb time to move from the pocket and reset himself.
- No pass-rush when it mattered. Leading 21-19 with less than five minutes to play, the Cardinals blitzed both inside linebackers on first down. Neither came close to getting pressure. Joey Porter dropped into coverage on the play and gave up a reception to tight end Fred Davis. The Redskins beat blitz pressure with quick passes on the next two plays. Then, with three wide receivers still on the field, the Redskins ran up the middle into field-goal range against a smaller defensive front. Arizona could have used some luck, too. The Cardinals tipped but could not intercept passes on consecutive plays before the Redskins made the winning field goal.
And that concludes this tape-delayed version of five observations coming off a short week. NFC West predictions for Week 3 are coming in a bit.