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Monday, October 12, 2009
Personnel report: Cardinals face choices

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


How the Cardinals use their personnel offensively makes for lively debate because the team has so many options.

The conflict between playing toward obvious strengths in the passing game and achieving more balance isn't going away anytime soon.

Arming quarterback Kurt Warner with the five best skill-position players on the roster will always be a priority. But if four of those players are wide receivers, the team could have a harder time striking the balance it needs to beat the best teams.

The chart below -- and this personnel report, available for download -- illustrate the conflict. Arizona averaged 9.1 yards per pass attempt with two touchdowns from its four-receiver offense, but the team passed on all 18 plays from that personnel group, including five times on first or second down in the first 24 minutes of the game.

Cardinals Personnel Group vs. Texans in Week 5
Carries Yards Per Carry Pass Attempts Yards Per Attempt TD
4WR 0 0.0 18 9.1 2
1RB-1TE 4 3.0 9 5.3 0
2RB-1TE 6 4.2 5 5.8 0
1RB-2TE 3 2.0 2 15.0 0
2RB-0TE 0 0.0 4 8.0 0
2RB-2TE 1 1.0 0 0.0 1
Totals 14 3.1 38 7.9 3

I have charted 1,676 offensive plays for the Cardinals dating to the 2007 season, including every snap -- minus kneeldowns and aborted plays -- since the 2008 opener. A few general feelings and impressions:
Coach Ken Whisenhunt said Monday he plans to work Wells into the three-receiver offense as the season progresses. He felt the time Wells missed during training camp made it unrealistic for Wells to function at a high level in game situations, given the assignment demands running backs face.