Sunday, September 30, 2012
Cardinals' play-action success, and more
By Mike Sando
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A few thoughts on the Arizona Cardinals after filing a postgame column set to appear on the blog later Sunday, once editors have translated it into English:
- Kevin Kolb completed all five pass attempts for 115 yards and two touchdowns on play-action passes during the Cardinals' 24-21 victory, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That suggests play-action can work without a strong ground game. Arizona carried only 15 times for 28 yards Sunday. But the team's shift into heavier personnel groupings for a critical stretch of the fourth quarter seemed to work. The team handed off to Ryan Williams on first down. Kolb then connected to Rob Housler (33 yards) and Andre Roberts (46-yard touchdown) on play-action passes. Miami had allowed no touchdowns and a 71.0 NFL passer rating on play-action throws through three games.
- The Cardinals' blitzes were far less effective against the Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill than they were against another rookie, Russell Wilson of Seattle, earlier in the season. Tannehill completed 16-of-22 passes for 306 yards, one touchdown and one interception when Arizona rushed five or more defenders, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Arizona entered the game allowing a league-low 34.1 percent completions and 3.6 yards per attempt against five or more rushers.
- The tying 15-yard scoring pass Kolb threw to Roberts late in regulation came on a play the pair couldn't quite complete in practice Friday. According to Kolb, the two agreed that Kolb would put the ball in the same spot if the play came up during the game. The post-corner route requires the receiver to take three hard steps to the post and freeze the defender with his eyes before making a hard cut. Kolb: "To be able to stick it and then go straight back this way, there are a handful of people in the world that can probably do it."
- For as happy as coach Ken Whisenhunt was with the victory, he was obviously ticked off with how his team played overall. Kolb took eight sacks and made a few costly mistakes. The previously sound defense repeatedly blew coverages, none worse than the one allowing Brian Hartline to roam uncovered for an 80-yard touchdown in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Whisenhunt backed off a comment about his team reading its positive press clippings, but it was clear his team will have much to address this week.
- Roberts and the Cardinals' receivers thought the Dolphins' secondary would be susceptible to double moves. Arizona's secondary was vulnerable to just about everything, sometimes even when the coverage was solid. Tannehill impressed by completing high-risk throws, including one he dropped right over Patrick Peterson along the sideline.
Column coming soon.