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Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Personnel report: Wells, Cardinals finding way

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt made a telling statement following Arizona's 24-17 victory over the Giants in Week 7.

"To not play our best and still win the game was a very good sign," he said.

The Cardinals are playing at a high level defensively and that should continue against the upcoming schedule.

Arizona is still finding its identity on offense, which sounds strange for a team that averaged 365 yards per game last season. The average has fallen to 329.5 this season. Larry Fitzgerald is averaging 10.8 yards per catch. Sixteen tight ends have better per-catch averages (minimum 15 receptions).

When I watch the Cardinals, I see an offense in transition. The Cardinals still like to spread the field with four wide receivers, but Beanie Wells averaged 10.0 yards per attempt on five carries when Arizona ran against the Giants from base personnel (two backs, two receivers, one tight end). Wells gained 6, 13, 6, 15 and 10 yards on those rushes.

Kurt Warner completed none of his three pass attempts from that base personnel group, however. Warner averaged 7.6 yards per attempt when Arizona used three or more wide receivers. Wells hasn't earned a place in those personnel groupings because he hasn't earned the Cardinals' trust in pass protection. Once he does, watch out for this offense.
Arizona left Wells alone in the backfield three times on pass plays agains the Giants. Those plays produced two passes to Wells totaling 7 yards and an 8-yard sack when Wells went one direction and the Giants linebacker Danny Clark blitzed from another. I can't say for sure whether Wells blew the protection, but the result wasn't what the Cardinals wanted. His assimilation remains a work in progress.
Cardinals Personnel Group vs. Giants in Week 7
Carries Yards Per Carry Pass Attempts Yards Per Attempt TD
4WR 0 0.0 17 7.3 0
1RB-2TE 9 2.1 3 2.3 0
1RB-1TE 1 -1.0 10 7.4 1
2RB-1TE 5 10.0 3 0.0 1
2RB-2TE 4 1.8 1 3.0 1
2RB-0TE 0 0.0 2 11.5 0
Totals 19 3.9 36 6.4 3