Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Scout's take: Where Kolb, Cardinals stand
By Mike Sando
Kevin Kolb and the Arizona Cardinals must be doing something right.
They lead the NFL in yards per pass attempt on first down (11.0), just ahead of the New England Patriots (10.9) and the unbeaten Buffalo Bills (10.8).
They rank among the top 10 in the same category on third down (7.8).
Kolb has hurt teams with the deep ball, completing 4 of 7 attempts for 158 yards on passes thrown more than 20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. His 22.6-yard average per attempt on these throws ranks among the NFL's top five, just ahead of Drew Brees' 21.9 average.
Running back Beanie Wells, though sidelined against Seattle in Week 3, ranks first with 3.3 yards per carry gained after contact, just ahead of Adrian Peterson (3.2), Ricky Williams (3.0), Peyton Hillis (2.9) and Michael Turner (2.8).
But after a tough 13-10 defeat at Seattle in which Kolb and the offense faltered too frequently, the Cardinals have little to show for some of their statistical accomplishments. They are 1-2 heading into their Week 4 game against the New York Giants.
What does it all mean? Where do the Cardinals stand? What should we make of Kolb as the team's new quarterback? Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. provided the following thoughts on Arizona when I reached out to him this week:
- On the Cardinals overall: "Being improved at the quarterback position is going to go a long way. They still have noticeable warts, however. Their defense is a real problem. They are one of these teams like [the] Rams' offense where the lockout did them no favors. They look lost in coverage. Their pass rush isn’t great to begin with. Those things could come around, but they need more bodies to compete in those areas, too. The offense is fine. The line is playing better than I expected them to, especially on the interior. Not that Beanie Wells is great, but they missed him. You can’t put everyone in the world on Larry Fitzgerald if he is there. In the end, they are a six-win type of team with a chance to be better against their schedule."
- On Kolb as the answer: "It’s too early to really say this is a good move or a bad move. He has played three games and hasn’t been with the team long. He has done some good things. He is an average physical specimen by NFL standards. He has no wonderful traits, but he is not bad in any area, either. When times are good and he has a clean pocket, the play goes to script, he delivers the football well. When things break down or he has a lot of bodies around him, he struggles. He’ll probably get better. He hasn’t played a ton of snaps."
- On the Kolb trade itself: "In the end, you get better at the quarterback position. Giving up Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie wasn’t that big a deal for me. Ray Horton is the new defensive coordinator. He wants to run a Steelers-type defense, and I can’t think of another corner in the league who is less Steeler-like than Rodgers-Cromartie. They want guys to play off coverage, come up and hit you, play the run. He doesn’t do that at all. It was not that big a loss to your team. People look at it on paper and say it was too much to give up. I thought his name value was a lot more than his real value to Arizona."
I've spoken with Williamson this week regarding each NFC West team and will continue to share his thoughts. He's on Twitter at @WilliamsonNFL if you'd like to reach him directly.