Updated Sep 20, 2011 - 9:52 am
Let the offense save the defense
The Cardinals defense through two games has been statistically one of the worst in the organization's history, having allowed 477 yards and 455 yards in their first two games. Last season the Cardinals ranked 29th in the NFL in yards allowed per game at 373.6 and things aren't getting better, they are getting worse.
The Cardinals can't contain a tight end. Carolina's Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen combined for 7 receptions for 129 yards and Washington's Fred Davis hauled in 6 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. They couldn't stop the pass in either game, as Cam Newton threw for 422 yards and Rex Grossman 291 yards. After allowing 7 receivers to gain over 100 yards receiving last season they opened the season by allowing Steve Smith to go for 178 yards. And after stopping the run versus Carolina they gave up a whopping 172 yards rushing to the Redskins, allowing Tim Hightower to rush for a 4.8 yard per carry average and Roy Helu 7.4 yards per carry.
So clearly the Cardinals look lost on defense. And it doesn't help that Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt continues to love the pass. Granted this is a passing league and the running game has taken a back seat, but just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean you have to. The Cardinals followed up a terrific opening week by Beanie Wells, who had 18 carries for 90 yards, by giving him less carries the next week. With their quarterback taking hit after hit against the Redskins Wells had just 14 carries but still managed 93 yards and a very solid 6.6 yard per carry average.
Nothing was more evident of the Cardinals inability to call the right plays then when they got the ball back against the Redskins with 5 minutes left in the game and a 2 point lead and went three and out after two incomplete passes followed a 3-yard run by Wells. Good teams can close out a game running the football, moving the chains and keeping the clock moving. Arizona threw two incomplete passes which stopped the clock and gave the Redskins plenty of time to get the ball back and kick the winning field goal. No matter how much this is a passing league you must be able to close out a game running the football, and Arizona doesn't seem to know how to do that right now or maybe it doesn't want to do that.
Clearly Beanie Wells has been the biggest surprise of the offense thus far. He is running with authority, hitting the holes and producing!. So it is mind boggling to think that Arizona coaches could devise a game plan that had him getting less carries in week two after his solid week one performance. Especially when you consider that the only true way to protect this atrocious defense is to keep it off the field. And you don't do that with drives of 1:28, :38, 4:24, 1:28, :31, 1:33 and :49 seconds.
Arizona made no commitment to run the ball in the first half and very little in the second half and hung this pathetic defense out to dry. Memo to the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff -- Running the ball takes time off the clock and keeps your defense off the field and this defense needs to be kept off the field.
Arizona needs to shorten the game. No matter how much they love the passing game they need to do it to save their defense. Shorten the game by running the ball more, it's the only way. Give Wells the rock 25 times a game and let him do his damage. Have a balanced offense, not one in which you run the ball just 33% of the time. Sure Larry Fitzgerald may catch a few less passes and Kevin Kolb may not throw for 300 yards but it sure beats the alternative -- giving up almost 500 yards per game!