Monday, October 22, 2012
Around the NFC West: Five Cards thoughts
By Mike Sando
The Arizona Cardinals have lost three games in a row.
They scored fewer than 17 points in each of those defeats, only the second such streak for Arizona since Ken Whisenhunt arrived as head coach in 2007.
Doom-and-gloom time, right? A few thoughts after re-watching the Cardinals' 21-14 defeat to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 7:
- Inspirational running: LaRod Stephens-Howling appeared all the way back from his hip injury. Saying he rushed for 104 yards isn't enough. Stephens-Howling turned in the most inspirational performance by a Cardinals running back since ... when? Others have rushed for more yards, more touchdowns, etc. It's been a while since any ran with so much determination. Stephens-Howling was both elusive and willing to take on defenders. There's no way a running back as small as Stephens-Howling can last running like this, but it's all hands on deck for the injury-depleted Cardinals.
- New right guard: Rich Ohrnberger took over at right guard when a quadriceps contusion sidelined Adam Snyder. Ohrnberger was fun to watch. He kept hitting people. He rocked Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway and drove him down the field before toppling him on a Stephens-Howling run over the right side late in the third quarter. He chopped down an unsuspecting defender at the legs on another run. Ohrnberger looked like he knew this was his one shot to make a case for a starting spot. Let's see more.
- On the run defense: Adrian Peterson topped 150 yards rushing for the Vikings. I'd like to know what the Cardinals' coaches thought of the team's run containment on the right side of the defense in the first half. How did Sam Acho grade out against the run? It's tough to tell sometimes, particularly with such a great running back on the field. I think the Cardinals' can live with their effort on defense. They held Minnesota to 58 yards and two first downs in the second half.
- Skelton's tease: Quarterback John Skelton does enough right to make it seem as though steady play is right around the corner. He does enough right to suggest he'll be fine once he eliminates the one or two big mistakes from each game. Perhaps that will happen, but it's tough to overlook the turnovers. A pick-six in Cardinals territory hurt. So did losing a fumble in Vikings territory after holding the ball too long.
- No big returns: Patrick Peterson had a 1.8-yard average on four punt returns. He's so eager to break one, he appears to be pressing. It's tough living up to a rookie season like the one Peterson had in 2011, when his four punt returns for touchdowns were pivotal in multiple victories.
The Cardinals-related "Silver Linings" file will run after a while. I'm still in St. Louis and will be heading over to Rams headquarters for Jeff Fisher's day-after-game news conference.