Big win for the Eagles. The Cards came to town with a 4-game win streak and lots of confidence. They had a top shelf defense and a hot offense. They had a veteran QB. The Eagles were going to have to earn this victory.
That’s just what they did.
The Eagles totally outplayed the Cards in building a 24-7 lead. The Eagles were better on offense, defense and STs. From that point on, things got a bit sloppy and the Cardinals started playing with some pep in their step. They made the game close at the end, but the Eagles were able to do just enough to hold on for the win.
Were the Cardinals exposed by playing their first tough competition in a while? To a certain extent, yes. But this is still a tough Cardinals team. Bruce Arians has them headed in the right direction. They need OL help in a big way, but having Palmer gives them a functional veteran QB and that is a huge improvement over the slop they’ve put on the field since Kurt Warner retired. Another huge point for them is the development of WR Michael Floyd. The Eagles focused on limiting Larry Fitzgerald. They did a good job of that, but Floyd was able to make plays and keep the offense going. The Cards won’t sink or swim based on Fitz anymore.
I don’t think this was any kind of statement game from the Eagles. They didn’t play with a chip on their shoulders. They didn’t do anything special. This was a tough, methodical win. It should impress you that the Eagles were able to play solid football and beat a 7-4 team. Even when the Eagles were up 24-7, they hadn’t played great. For every good thing they did, there was something sloppy. The Eagles still have yet to play one game where they hit on all cylinders. That’s good news. You’d rather have that happen later in the season. It would be ideal for that to happen in the final month. There are no guarantees the Eagles will play a great game. They certainly didn’t in 2012.
One of the big topics coming out of this game was the officiating. Bruce Arians sent 15 plays to the league that he wanted addressed. He wanted the calls/non-calls explained to him. After re-watching the game, I do think the Eagles got the better of the officiating. But I still don’t think Arians handled the situation well. There were bad moments for each team. Mychal Kendricks was clearly held by the C when he blitzed up the middle on a play. That happened to be the 43-yard TD pass to Fitzgerald. That was a huge, huge non-call. The Cards should have been facing 3rd/30. Now, you can argue that with the Eagles defense, they’d have still gotten the 1st down and sadly…I can’t strongly dispute that. The point is that both teams benefited from missed calls.
There was a lot of discussion about the officiating late in the game. The Eagles DBs got away with contact, while the Cards drew a penalty that ended the game. A lot of people are missing the key angle to this. The officials allowed contact downfield for both teams. The Eagles did get away with illegal contact. The Cards were flagged for holding. That is completely different from illegal contact. When Roc Carmichael grabbed a TE’s jersey and had his hands all over the guy, that got called. That went beyond contact. That absolutely affected the play and drew the flag. The questionable plays on the Cards final drive involved contact, but not holding or grabbing receivers down the field. Even Darryl Johnston, who had one of his worst games as an announcer, said on the air that the officials have let contact go the whole game. And frankly, that’s what we want. Let the players play. Don’t over-officiate. If there is no clear advantage gained, let it go. The penalty on Carmichael was a good call. He took away the receiver’s chance to catch the ball. I’m fine with the non-calls. Those receivers still had a legit chance to make catches. And the holding call on the Cards was absolutely the right call. The OLB didn’t let the TE release into his route. He had a hanful of jersey, clear as day. That’s the very definition of holding.
The Eagles are now 1-0 in December. They have a 2-game winning streak at The Linc. And they are tied for the 1st place in the NFC East with a 7-5 record. God, what a difference a year makes. Thank you Chip Kelly.
The first question many of us had was how the bye week would affect the Eagles. I didn’t see any issues. The team never looked lost or flat. They got sloppy in the 2nd half, but they did that in the game before the bye as well.
Kelly challenged a 1st down spot in the 1st half. I wondered at the time if he would challenge. I felt he was almost certain to win, but wondered if the situation was worth it. I felt sure the Cards would go for it on 4th and a foot. Kelly did challenge. The Eagles did win. And the Cards did go for it. They got their 1st down. So maybe one thing Kelly did work on in the bye week was challenging calls.
Many people were upset when Brad Smith came in for a snap at QB on a Red Zone play. I had no problem with it. The Eagles had the ball at the 6-yard line, 1st and Goal. That’s too far to expect Shady to run it in. Using Smith at QB throws a curveball at the defense and gives you a better chance to make a longer TD. The problem is that Smith bobbled the snap and was then tackled for a loss. Smith is a veteran player. He was a star QB in college. He has played some QB in the NFL. He generally has good hands and is the kind of player you can trust. Smith made a mistake. Running the play wasn’t a bad idea. It just wasn’t well-executed.
One of Moose Johnston’s dumb moments came late in the 1st half. He questioned the way Chip Kelly managed the clock between 3rd and 4th down. Kelly actually handled the situation perfectly. The Eagles faced 4th/2 from the Cards 34. There was about 1:25 on the clock. Kelly let it run down to :43 and called a timeout. Johnston was sure this was dumb. Why let all that time run off? Kelly did that in case the Eagles didn’t get the 1st down. He didn’t want to leave the Cards with 1:15 and a chance to score. Kelly hoped Shady would get the 1st down, but he had to plan for the other scenario. Going down to :43 with 2 timeouts left and being already in Cards territory was not dumb or risky. The Eagles had plenty of time to work with if they did get the 1st down. The Eagles did and then scored a TD.
Nick Foles faced his toughest defense of the year and he shredded them for 2 1/2 quarters. The Eagles had a good offensive plan. They knew the Cards had good DBs so they decided to get the ball to TEs. The first 5 passes of the game went to TEs. This wasn’t a case of the Eagles forcing the ball to one guy. The plays were all very different. The TEs were used creatively. They weren’t even the primary targets on all the throws. I assume one of the coaches got it into Foles head that if the primary is covered, look to the TE quickly and you should have a favorable matchup.
I liked the fact the Eagles didn’t shy away from throwing at Patrick Peterson, but also didn’t force the ball to DeSean. He finished with 3 catches for 36 yards, which is quiet for him. But all the Eagles WRs only totaled 7 grabs. The plan here was to get the ball to the TEs and RBs in space. They totaled 14 catches and 3 TDs. Good plan.
The offense had a turnover-free game. That’s a big deal against the Cards. Arizona had a takeaway or more in each of the first 11 games this year, but they got nothing on Sunday.
The offense did stall for a lot of the 2nd half. One of the big problems is that the team got sloppy. I don’t know if the players loosen up after getting a big lead or if they try too hard. This absolutely wasn’t a case of the offense getting conservative. In the Eagles final 5 possessions (not counting the final one that was all about the clock), Foles threw 7 passes and was sacked 3 times. That is 10 pass plays. He might have scrambled a time or two as well. Some of the passes were downfield throws. Unfortunately, the pass game wasn’t working. There was good coverage by the Cards, pass deflections by the Cards and some erratic passes by Foles.
I wish I could point to one thing and say “Fix that.” The Eagles just need to find a way to make plays after building big leads. They don’t need explosive plays. They just need to keep the chains moving.
* 1st/GL. Eagles lined up with 2 WRs to the left and 2 TEs to the right. Foles faked a toss play to Shady going left and then wheeled around and rolled to the right. Ertz ran deep route, Casey short route. Foles had his choice of targets. Wisely, threw to Ertz for the TD. Cards actually had decent coverage on the play, but not good enough. Good throw, good catch. TD.
* 1st/GL. “Wildcat”. Snap when through Smith’s hands. Lost yards. I already discussed the play above.
* 4th/2. Late in the 1st half. Lane Johnson lined out out wide to the left side with Coop and Avant. DeSean lined up to the right, but then motioned left. The Cards were light in the box and looking outside. Shady then got the hand-off and went straight up the field for 5 yards. Good blocking by all 4 OL and Celek.
* 5 for 16 on 3rd downs.
* 2 for 4 in the RZ. To be fair, the final RZ series was kneel downs. Essentially 2 for 3.
* Continued to mix-in Foles under Center. This was true on runs and play-action passes.
* Ran up the middle on 3rd/7 late in the 1st Qtr. I have no problem with doing this. You’re not going to make that consistently, but it keeps defenses honest and you never know when Shady will break off a good run.
* Had to burn a timeout in the early 3rd. Confusion before 3rd/11. We haven’t seen much of that this year, but the timeout must have worked since the Eagles converted the 3rd down.
FOLES - Another good game. Sloppy at times, but made some sharp throws and mostly good decisions. Finished 21-34-237. Threw for 3 TDs. Was sacked 5 times. Some of those were good decisions. The Cards thrive on turnovers so you are better off taking the sack rather than throwing the ball into traffic. Foles didn’t have any INTs…kind of. Made a terrible decision late in the game and threw the ball into traffic over the middle of the field. Peterson picked it off. But the play was wiped out due to a penalty. Whew, that was close. Ran the ball 9 times for 22 yards, but if you take away the kneel downs it was 6 for 26. That’s solid for Nick. Just enough to keep the defense honest.
In a way it was good to see Nick play sloppy and still finish with a mostly good game. He bounced back from poor throws or plays that didn’t work. And he did this against a good defense. The sacks and hits didn’t overwhelm him. Nick took his shots and got right back up and focused on the next play. Give the Cards some credit. They were very good in coverage at times. This wasn’t a case of Nick missing open guys.
– Misc Plays –
Opened the 2nd series at mid-field. The Cards blitzed. Nick felt the pressure but still wanted to get the pass off. He kept his eyes downfield, but wisely gave up and took the sack rather than forcing things and taking a dumb chance.
Ran on 3rd/long a couple of plays later. Had time, but no one open. Ended the play awkwardly. Some made fun of him for a bad slide. I’m not sure Nick was trying to slide. Looked like he was trying to put on a move and just fell to the ground. Either way, wasn’t pretty.
Took a big hit just after he threw a screen pass to Shady in the mid-2nd. Sold the play well and it worked for a 19-yard gain.
Underthrew pass to Avant in the mid-2nd. Looked downfield and didn’t see anyone open so he went to Avant. Changed his motion and the ball was low. Avant made a sliding catch. A better throw would have allowed for RAC yards. Probably 10, maybe more.
Put great touch on pass to DeSean down the right sideline in the late 2nd Qtr. Had DJax line up at RB and looked like we ran the same play from last week when Shady had his big play. Great design. Perfect throw.
Tried to run a quick screen late in the half, but the Cards jumped it. Nick then ran to the other side. He then got the ball to Shady, who weaved through traffic for a gain of 5. They called that a pass play. Sorta like an extended hand-off.
Forced a deep ball to DeSean late in the half. DJax was able to break up the pass. Wasn’t a dumb decision, but was risky. Missed an open Celek on the next play when he threw to Avant and Peterson was able to break it up.
Scrambled to his right and hit Cooper late in the half. Good elusiveness, but the pass was a duck.
Made an odd throw to Cooper late in the half for the PI. Looked like Riley was open on a deep post route. Nick held the ball and threw late. He didn’t keep the ball over the middle, but bent it more straight up the field. Riley adjusted to it and drew the contact. Did Nick adjust the throw intentionally? TD pass to Celek right after that was easy. Had crossing routes designed to make it tough on DBs. Celek’s guy got lost in traffic. TD.
Ran for 10 yards to open the 3rd Qtr. Kept the ball on a zone-read play. His slide was a combination of Lou Brock and Lou Costello. Hit Cooper with a good pass on 3rd/11 in the early 3rd Qtr. Delivered a strike. Had Cooper open for a big TD in the early 3rd, but Todd couldn’t hold a block and Foles got hit as he tried to get the ball to an intermediate receiver. Incomplete. Tried to hit Cooper with quick screen in the early 3rd. Ball was off target and the refs ruled it a lateral that lost yds. Pass was so wobbly that it started backward and then went forward at the very end. Knuckler.
3rd Qtr TD to Ertz was a thing of beauty. Had a clean pocket. Read the play and made a terrific throw. Pass had good velocity. Accuracy was perfect. Hit Ertz on the move 24 yds downfield. Ball was right there where Ertz could pluck it cleanly. Didn’t give the DBs a chance to play the ball. Didn’t put air on it so they could get there and hit Ertz. That was an NFL throw.
Had pass batted down in the 3rd. DJax was wide open on crossing route. Would have gained 10 or 15 yds.
Tried to hit Celek down the field after an INT in the late 3rd, but coverage was too good. Put the ball close, but didn’t want to force it too tightly and let the DB play it. Overthrew Shady on pass into the right flat. Too bad. Play had a chance if Shady could get by the first LB. Wasn’t an easy throw because of the angle, but was clearly off target.
Tried to hit Ertz down the left sideline in the early 4th. Good throw, but he was well covered. Ertz couldn’t make the grab. Had a funny pass play later on that drive. Tried to go out wide, but that was covered. Then acted like he was going to run. Stopped and Celek was wide open for a short gain over the middle.
I don’t know what happened on the “INT” play. No one blocked the backside OLB. He came free and got on Nick in a hurry. Nick made things infinitely worse by throwing the ball. You don’t force the ball into coverage…over the middle…while on one foot and being hit. That is dumb to infinity. Thankfully, Nick got a reprieve from the Football Gods.
SHADY - Pretty good game. 19-79 as a runner. 5-36 as a receiver. His long run and his long catch were both 19 yds. The Cards did a good job of keeping Shady under control. He had his moments, but never took over the game. Missed blitz pickup to open 2nd series. That led to sack and killed the drive. Caught pass in the right flat to open the 2nd Qtr and moved the Eagles off the goal line. Got 19 yards on a screen pass in the mid-2nd. Moved well in space and had room to run. Almost broke through for a big run on the next play, but Dockett reached out and got a handful of jersey. Still got 9 yds on the play. Caught pass in the right flat and got upfield for 5 yds on 3rd/5 late in the half. Needed every bit of quickness to get beyond the sticks before going out of bounds. Most impressive run came in the early 3rd Qtr and lost a foot. Got hit several yards in the backfield and had to fight through traffic to get back close to the LOS. Great effort. Had a terrific run in the early 3rd. Started to the right, then made a hard lateral cut to the left and exploded upfield. Got by the ILB and gained 12 yds. Terrific run in the early 4th. Toss play to the right, but Shady cutback almost immediately and headed left, across the field. Found a seam and got loose for a gain of 35. Illegal block by Avant reduced it to 9 yds. Ugh. Made a poor decision on 4th Qtr. run. Had room to the right, but cut back to the left and only got a minimal gain.
B BROWN – Finished with 5 carries for 4 yds. Don’t blame Bryce for this. Penetration blew up 2 of his runs and cost him yards. This wasn’t a case of him running too much E-W and not enough N-S. First run came in the early 2nd Qtr. Outside zone run. Kelce/Mathis couldn’t block the DL to the play-side and that penetration killed the play. Brown went wide and got what he could, but lost several yards. Many fans getting on Brown for this. Don’t. Wasn’t his fault. Play was designed to go wide. Penetration killed the play. Good blitz pickup of Washington in the mid-2nd. Had to block Calais Campbell on 3rd down pass play in the early 3rd Qtr. Got in his way, but wasn’t a strong block. Let Campbell get a hand on Foles, but pass still got thrown. Next play was a run up the middle. Got 5 yds. Simple cutback. Stayed N-S and didn’t go down easy. Got stuffed for a loss in the 4th when the DE just fired into the backfield and got him right after the hand-off. Poor pass block of Campbell in the mid-4th. Campbell slanted to the inside and came free. Brown was there to block him and just hesitated. Can’t have that.
POLK - Saw some snaps late in the 1st half. No touches.
CELEK - First 3 passes of the game came his way. The first play was a rollout where Celek was a designated option. The next play was a checkdown due to the blitz. Caught the first pass. Unable to hold onto the second. LB hit him as the ball got there. The other pass came on 3rd/7. Celek was wide open over the middle. Todd Bowles must have learned that coverage from Juan Castillo. Celek caught the ball at the 15 and dragged/pushed defenders down to the 6-yard line. Love his effort. Tough as nails. Real good block in the early 2nd Qtr. Took on 91 and sealed him so Shady could get to the outside. Good block on the next play, a quick screen to Shady. Again sealed 91 to the inside. Caught short TD late in the half. Ran simple drag route and his DB got lost in traffic. Easy pitch and catch. Finished 4-29-1.
ERTZ - 5-68-2. Big impact on the game. Caught a TD on the opening series. Was open in the end zone with a DB trailing him. Pretty easy. Lined up out wide several times. Kelly wanted Ertz vs a LB and got that a few times. Beat Washington to the inside and plucked a pass for a gain of 22. Very impressive catch. Caught screen pass on 3rd/long and the Cards played it well. No gain on the play. Good catch over the middle in the early 3rd. Used a good release to get by Washington and to the inside. Does need Celek to teach him how to drag multiple tacklers 10 yards down the field. Zach goes down with the first big hit. Had a nice TD catch in the early 3rd. Lined up to the left, a bit wide. Got a clean release. Once upfield, he bent his route outside, then cut back inside. Wide open. Subtle, but effective move. Nick got him the ball. 24-yd TD. Was okay as a blocker.
CASEY - Played early and late in the game. No touches. Was the underneath target on the first Ertz TD. Was the underneath target late in the game on the holding call. Blocked 91 initially and then tried to release into the flat. This is a common play. 91 grabbed his jersey for just a second, but it totally changed the play since Casey couldn’t get open and he was a key target.
D JACKSON – Somewhat quiet game. 3-36. Caught quick screen on the right side and flew upfield for a gain of 15. Best play of the day came in the late 2nd Qtr when he lined up in the backfield. Ran kind of a wheel route and got Peterson on his back hip down the sideline. Foles threw a perfect touch pass and DeSean made a terrific catch. Great concentration on the play. Did a terrific job on pass play late in the half. Foles threw deep ball to the right side. Peterson had inside position on the ball. DJax stayed right there and broke it up. Took a big hit on a quick screen in the early 3rd Qtr. Honey Badger read the play and exploded upfield. DJax held onto the ball. Just got up slowly.
AVANT - Good block on Shady run to his side in the early 2nd Qtr. Sealed the DB and gave Shady the edge. Made an impressive sliding catch in the mid-2nd. Wide open, but Foles was off target and underthrew him. Had a pass come his way near the left sideline. Might have gotten held by the Honey Badger on the play, but there was no flag and the ball landed a couple of steps away. Had a pass come his way late in the half when going up against Peterson, but PP was able to recover and break it up. Really dumb block in the back on 4th Qtr run. Shady was already about to be by that defender. No need for any contact, let alone shoving the guy in the back. Costly penalty. Was held on 4th Qtr pass play where Foles was picked off. Drew the flag and saved the day.
COOPER - Made a sensational 1-hand leaping grab in the mid-2nd. Quick pass. Foles just put it way too high. Coop extended and somehow caught it. He then came down and added almost 20 RAC yards. Great effort. Drew PI call on Powers on deep ball late in the half. Contact came in the end zone so it set the Eagles up at the 1-yard line. Foles threw a pass to him in the early 4th down the left sideline. 1-on-1 coverage. Coop went up, but couldn’t make the grab. DB grabbed his inside arm/hand down the field to keep him from being able to cleanly play the ball. No flag. Naturally, I assume that was one of the 15 plays Bruce Arians complained to the NFL about. Finished with 3 catches for 48 yds.
D JOHNSON – Didn’t see him on offense.
MAEHL - Got concussion early in the game.
SMITH - Had the one snap at QB. Played some WR, but didn’t see him on the field much on offense.
PETERS - Solid game. Mostly gave Foles good protection, but had some bad moments as well. Good job on 3rd/long early in the game. ARZ ran stunt. Peters blocked the DE, then handed him off to Mathis. Peters then got the looping LB and rode him behind the pocket. His OLB hit Nick in the mid-2nd, but was impressive job by the LB. Jason got off the ball and hit the guy, knocking him off balance. Hit the guy again and had the LB almost on the ground, but the guy stayed up and got by Jason to hit the QB. Great effort. Got thrown to the ground in pass pro in the late 2nd on 3rd/GL. 91 got him off balance and shoved Jason to the ground. Wow. Didn’t affect play since Abraham already had Foles sacked. Failed to cleanly get his hands on rusher on pass play late in the half and Abraham pressured Foles.
MATHIS – Had a terrific block of Campbell on inside run. Moved him a couple of yards off the ball. Had a really good but subtle block of Campbell on a screen to Shady. Didn’t get a big hit, but made enough contact to keep Campbell from going for Shady. I love little things like that. DT beat him to the inside late in the half and pressured Foles on the bizarre play with the ball going to Shady late. Campbell beat him with a good swim move late in the half. That forced Foles to move to the right. Good seal block in the early 3rd on inside run. Walled off his DL and gave Shady a clean running lane. Aggressive pass block on the 3rd Qtr TD pass. Fired off the ball and got control of his DL. Stoned him. Tried to pull and block Dockett on the backside on 3rd Qtr run. Didn’t work. Dockett exploded upfield and hit Shady. Nothing you can do on that. Got beat by stunt in the early 4th and gave up a sack. If he was able to really block Dansby, had a chance for big run in the early 4th. Got on him and was effective, but couldn’t control him. Dansby limited Brown to a 5-yd gain. Lots of room behind him if Brown had gotten by.
KELCE - Good block of ILB on outside run play to the left side. Cut him down in space. Got driven straight back to Foles on 3rd/GL by Ta’Amu. Put Kelce on roller skates. Happened in the late 2nd when Abraham got sack. Real good block of the NT on run in the early 3rd. Got him moved to the right so Shady could cut back to the left. Foles got sacked in the mid-3rd Qtr. Coverage sack. The line gave him several seconds, but no one was open. Eventually 91 broke free from a cluster of players and got the sack. Kelce had him blocked initially, but then saw a defender coming free to the inside so Jason peeled off to get that guy. Foles move to 91’s area and got sacked. I would not blame this on Kelce, though. Excellent block of DT on 4th Qtr run by Brown. Move him out, created big hole. Ta’Amu drove Jason straight back on 4th Qtr run and disrupted the play.
HERREMANS - Got pushed back on 3rd Qtr pass play, which forced Nick to make an errant throw. Wasn’t able to sustain a pass block on deep pass play. Nick got hit and the ball was incomplete. Had chance for big play. Good pass block in the 3rd. Dockett slanted hard to the inside. Todd was able to get his hands on him and not let Dockett get upfield. Good block of Dockett on 4th Qtr run allowed Shady to cut back to the right and get upfield for 7 yds. Good run blocker throughout the game. Pass pro was up and down.
JOHNSON - Gave up a sack on 3rd/GL in the late 2nd Qtr. Over-set to the outside and Abraham beat him to the inside for the sack. Got beat by Abraham late in the half, but was able to keep enough contact to keep him from getting to Foles. Good down block of DL on Brown run play to his side in the early 3rd. Good 2nd level block on 4th Qtr run. Mostly played pretty well.
BARBRE - DNP
TOBIN - DNP
VANDERVELDE - DNP
KELLY - DNP
The Eagles had a pretty good day on defense. They allowed their 2nd fewest yards in a game, 350, for the season. The Cards had scored 27 or more points in 4 straight games and they were held to 21. The Cards had gone 2 games without a turnover, but the Eagles came up with 3. The pass rush looked the best it has all season. The Eagles got 5 sacks and kept pretty good pressure on Palmer. The 5 sacks all came by LBs. Some came on base rush scenarios, others on blitzes.
The Eagles did some creative things vs Fitzgerald. They used LBs to jam him on a regular basis. They had LBs and Safeties cover him on some plays. Other times it would be a CB and S. They tried not to let him run free very much. Fitz did have the 43-yd TD, but only 4 catches for 29 yds aside from that. I like the philosophy of taking away the star player and making other guys beat you. If Michael Floyd plays the game of his life, so be it. Don’t let the star run wild and beat you. He’s capable of that. Force the other guys to play at a high level.
Arizona used bunch sets to try and get receivers open on pass plays. They did have some success with this. The Eagles DBs did a good job of communicating for the most part, but there were a few plays when guys were wide open. The bunch sets also created pick plays that hurt the Eagles a time or two, including the long TD pass to Floyd.
The Cardinals used a lot of 2 TE sets to run from. Derek Sarley has complained about the Eagles lining up well vs 2-TE sets since this summer and the Cards best runs came from these formations. I don’t know if there is confusion by the Eagles or if Bill Davis just has some different theories on how he wants his guys lined up.
* 3rd/5. Eagles were in a 3-3-5 look. Cox, Logan and Cole were the DL. Barwin, Kendricks and Ryan were the LBs. Barwin lined up by the NT and rushed up the middle. Cole came off the edge and cleanly beat the LT. He knocked the ball out of Palmer’s hand and Logan recovered. Great play. The rush was helped by tight coverage, which kept Palmer from getting rid of the ball quickly.
* 3rd/20. The Eagles were in a 4-2-5 look and blitzed. The blitz didn’t get there. Fitz caught the ball on a deep cross. Chung took a poor angle and hit Boykin more than Fitz. Larry was able to shrug off any contact and run the ball in for a 43-yd TD.
* 3rd/9. Trips bunch to the right. Bill Davis said the DBs got aligned correctly vs the set and everyone knew who to cover. The problem is that Boykin turned and ran with Floyd and hit Fletcher as he was doing this. That gave Floyd separation and left him wide open for the 23-yd TD. Davis said this was simply a physical mistake. The players knew what to do. They were sloppy as they moved and that led to the collision. Nate Allen was on that side as well, but his attention was on Fitz, who ran a short route. That left the deep area open. I don’t know if Nate was told to focus on Fitz or just did it, but I don’t fault that at all. Cover Fitz. Make Floyd beat you.
* 2nd/GL. Arizona ran a simple play-action pass to the right flat. Fitz motioned before the snap. Nate immediately started signaling for someone to come that way, but there was confusion on the backside. The TE was wide open for easy TD.
COX – Somewhat of a quiet game. No tackles. One pass deflection. Great job on 2nd Qtr pass play. Just exploded off the ball and shoved the LG to the ground. Then flew into the backfield and forced Palmer to throw the ball away. Good pressure on pass in the mid-3rd. Beat the LT and got a hand in Palmer’s face as he threw.
LOGAN - Helped make the tackle on the opening play. Shed block, moved laterally and stuffed the RB. Good play vs the run in the mid-1st. Took on the C and RG. Shed the C and moved to the right and stuffed the RB. Only gave up a yard. Got hit on Palmer as Graham was sacking him. Had looped wide on the play. Got held by the RG on 3rd/1 run play in the 3rd Qtr. Drew the flag. Disrupted 4th/GL run play in the late 4th Qtr. Pushed the RG back and he hit the TE who was trying to act as a lead blocker. Ryans got TFL on the play. Was in on 3 tackles.
THORNTON - Played the run well, as usual. Had 4 total tackles. Didn’t get much of a pass rush. Great job vs run on 2nd series. Took on the RT and shed him. Fought off the RG and stuffed the RB for minimal gain. 2-gap defense at its finest. Ate up 2 blockers on the next play, which allowed MK to make the tackle. Able to shed block of RT and get to the RB in the mid-1st Qtr. Clogged running lanes on 3rd Qtr run play and let Allen make play at the LOS. Got called for hands to the face in the mid-3rd. Good call. Great job on 3rd Qtr run. RT tried to reach block him. Ced fired off the ball and made that impossible. RB went wide to the other side. Ced chased the play down from the backside and made the tackle.
CURRY - Quiet on the stat sheet, but impacted the game. No tackles. Was disruptive at times. Used hard slant to the inside and almost got sack in the late 1st Qtr. Drove the LG back, shed him and got a hand on Palmer. Ryans came from the other side for the sack. Beat the RT with a good inside move in the 2nd Qtr and almost got to Palmer on 3rd down. Used rip move to get by the RT and get a bit of pressure on Palmer on 3rd Qtr INT. Beat the LG in the early 4th and hit Palmer, along with Ryans who blitzed from the outside.
GEATHERS - Lined up at DE and NT. Used spin move to get off block and into the backfield in the late 3rd. Disrupted run play, but couldn’t make the tackle.
SQUARE - Backup NT. Great hustle on 3rd Qtr run. Chase the RB out wide and made the stop for minimal gain.
COLE - Best game of the year, and not just because of the sacks. Did have 2 sacks. Also had a TFL and FF. First sack came on the first series. Used his hands well and beat the LT cleanly. Stripped the ball from Palmer. Used spin move to get by the LT in the mid-1st. Got pressure on that play. Beat the LT late in the 1st Qtr and hit Palmer. Pursued run play downfield and tackled RB from behind in the late 1st. Beat the LT in the 2nd Qtr and came close to knocking the ball away from Palmer again. Just missed. Dropped into coverage on 3rd Qtr pass play. Got into the passing lane and might have helped a PBU on pass to Fitz by being in the way. Dropped into the flat vs TE on the next play. Didn’t affect that play. Looked okay out there, but only a gifted athlete would have been able to cover on that play. Lined up out wide on 3rd Qtr pass play…over Fitz. Jammed him at the snap and covered him downfield. Had a S over the top. Trent was very physical. Lots of contact. Ball went elsewhere. Got triple-teamed on a 3rd Qtr TD pass. TE chipped him as he released. Then the LT and RB blocked Trent. His 2nd sack came in the early 4th. Good coverage. Trent beat the LT and got behind Palmer. Kendricks blitzed from the outside and gave Palmer nowhere to go so Trent got him from behind. Beat the LT and got good pressure on Palmer on a 3rd down pass play. Beat the LT with an inside move in the mid-4th and got a solid shot on Palmer. Lined up over the RG on 4th Qtr pass play. Beat him with a good inside move and got a big hit on Palmer. Unfortunately he got the pass off just before that for a big gain. Still, that was very impressive to see Trent so good inside.
BARWIN - Who knew he would be such a weapon vs Fitz? Jammed him on a regular basis. That meant lining up out wide and away from the action. Still got in on 3 tackles. Used hard inside move to get pressure on Palmer on early 3rd down. Palmer still got the pass off cleanly. Tackled TE downfield after catch and run. Shed block of the TE and helped Ryans hold a RB to a short gain. Rushed up the middle a couple of times. Good game vs the run.
GRAHAM - Got pressure on pass play in the early 2nd Qtr. Used hard inside move and got partially by the LT. Split the TE and LT and stuffed a run in the mid-2nd. Then had a sack when he used a hard inside move and got to Palmer. Got his 2nd sack late in the 3rd Qtr. Chung blitzed off the edge so Graham slanted hard to the inside and got by the LT. Good coverage on the play also helped. Used power rush to get some pressure on Palmer on 3rd/long in the late 3rd. Wasn’t enough, unfortunately. I love the 2 sacks, but they did come on plays where there were blitzes and Graham slanted inside.
KENDRICKS - Got the start after missing almost 2 full games. Looked good. I wasn’t overly impressed watching live, but MK really jumped out when watching the tape. Slipped block on the first play and stuffed the RB headed up the middle. Next play was a WR screen. Flew out wide and made the stop, limiting the play to a short gain. Got off a block, moved laterally and made the tackle of RB on run play to open the 2nd series. Stuff another run on the 2nd series. Played off the LOS, read the play and got to the RB. Thornton kept him clean. Hustled out wide and tackled Fitz on WR screen. Made good tackle of WR after short catch over the middle. Kept the guy from getting the 1st down. Made the tackle vs 2nd/long draw play in the late 3rd Qtr. Flew out wide in the early 4th to help Williams tackle Fitz on quick screen. Blitzed off the edge and got a good hit on Palmer in the early 4th. Curry also got in on the hit from up the middle. Had tight coverage of RB on 3rd down pass play in the early 4th. Forced Palmer to err on the side of caution and put the ball too far out front. Shoved Floyd after he went out of bounds on 4th Qtr pass play. Wasn’t dirty or over the top, but just dumb. Refs have a hair-trigger for stuff like that. Got lucky that no call was made. Finished with 8 tackles.
RYANS - Leading tackler, again. Had some good moments, but also was sloppy at times. Helped to create INT for Allen in the 1st Qtr. Came on green dog (delayed blitz) and kept Palmer from stepping into his throw. The pass had enough air under it that Allen could make the play. Was a bit slow to get to his right and stuff the RB on an inside run. Gave up 5 yds on that and he wasn’t blocked. Got burned by cutback run in the late 1st. Was in the correct gap, but the RB cut to the other side and Ryans couldn’t make the stop. Run went for 14 yds. Got a sack in the late 1st. Another delayed blitz. Curry pressured Palmer and Ryans was able to clean up with the sack. Made bad read on 2nd Qtr run. Got in the wrong gap and gave up 12 yd run. Strong tackle of TE after short catch over the middle. Terrific play vs the run in the mid-3rd. Read the run was going outside. Got out wide and forced the runner to cut back, where pursuit got him. Did a poor job in coverage on 4th Qtr pass play. Floyd caught a pass on crossing route. Ryans should have tackled him for a short gain, but took a poor angle and let Floyd go right by him for a good gain. Got a TFL late in the game. Logan disrupted 1st/GL run and Ryans was able to penetrate and make the tackle. Finished with 9 tackles and a sack.
MATTHEWS - Didn’t see him on defense.
KNOTT - Didn’t see him on defense.
GOODE - Got hurt early in the game.
ALLEN - Pretty good game. Was 2nd on the team, with 8 tackles. Got his first INT of the year. Showed good range and hands on the play. Picked the ball off downfield. Caught it up above his head. Clean pick. Got it at the 3 and then returned it to midfield. Bad job on 2nd Qtr run play. Dove for Mendenhall on inside run and made minimal contact. Stuffed a 3rd Qtr run play right at the LOS. Thornton clogged the running lanes and Nate made the stop. Had man coverage of the TE in the mid-3rd. Gave up short completion. Wrapped him up and went to slam him, but then remembered the earlier flag and let up on the play. Made solid tackle of Fitz on 3rd Qtr quick screen after Fitz kinda got by Fletcher. Solid wrap up tackle of Fitz after 11-yd catch in the mid-4th. Had solid downfield coverage on Floyd on 4th Qtr pass play, but missed the ball by inches. Gain of 34.
CHUNG - Not his best game, to put it mildly. Wasn’t credited with any tackles. Did break up one pass. Blitzed quite a bit. Covered slot receiver in empty set on downfield route. Had mostly good coverage, but got away with contact as the ball got there. Could have easily been PI. Missed tackle of RB in the flat in early 3rd Qtr. Gave up an additional 24 RAC yds because of that. Out of control on the play. His lowlight was the missed tackle of Fitz that led to the long TD. Chung needed to aim better so he’d be in the right spot even if he failed to make the play. Put his head on the wrong side of Fitz. Missed. Left Fitz an open field to run in. Ugh.
WOLFF - DNP. Get well soon.
COLEMAN - Didn’t see him on defense.
FLETCHER - Up and down game. Had 5 solo stops and broke up 2 passes, but got burned a few times as well. Gave up 3rd down completion on an early drive. Was playing off and the ball came to his guy. Easy 1st down. Compounded the problem by slamming the WR to the ground. That gave the Cards 15 free yards. Missed tackle of Fitz in the late 1st on a WR screen. Sloppy. Had good downfield coverage of Roberts on 3rd/long pass play to open the 2nd Qtr. Broke up a 2nd Qtr pass to Roberts. Made partial tackle of Fitz on 3rd Qtr quick screen. Nate cleaned up the mistake. Had tight downfield coverage of Fitz on 3rd Qtr pass play and Palmer had to put the ball out of bounds. Beaten by Floyd for gain of 34 in the mid-4th. Never saw the ball or made a play on it. Had tight coverage on pass late in the game. He and Roberts were both looking at the ball. There was contact, but no flag. All over the receiver on the Cards final play. No call. Pass was incomplete.
WILLIAMS - Started quietly, but played well in the 2nd half. Gave up a few completions in the 1st half. Was always a step late or just too far away in zone coverage. Broke up a 3rd Qtr pass to Fitz. Good coverage on that play. Had good coverage in the mid-3rd. Played off Roberts. Read the route well. Saw the move to the outside and then turn up the field. Was able to get in Roberts hip pocket and stay there. Had inside position and kept Roberts from being able to catch the ball. Got pushed by WR in the late 3rd on 3rd/long. Guy came back to the ball and made the grab to move the chains. Beautiful INT in the late 3rd. Undercut the WR and made a good catch. You can see he’s got excellent ball skills. Made solid tackle of Fitz on quick screen. Only gave up a couple of yards.
BOYKIN - Had tight coverage of the TE on a 4th Qtr pass play. Ball was incomplete. Had a chance for another RZ pick. Covered Fitz in the mid-4th. Had underneath position. Ball came his way, but was off-target and would have been hard to snatch. Boykin tried, but couldn’t make the grab. Wasn’t credited with any tackles. Covered well at times. Just didn’t have much action come his way. Gave up TD in the 2nd half, but that was a pick play and Brandon bumped into Brad Fletcher. Not his fault.
CARMICHAEL - Played in some Dime sets. Covered the TE on RZ pass play late in the game. Called for holding. Had a handful of jersey. Set up 1st/GL and a TD run. Tried to cover Roberts from slot on 3rd down late in the game. Roberts used a good move to create tons of room. Wide open. Bad throw led to incompletion.
JONES - Another great game. NFC ST’er of the Week. Downed 7 punts inside the 20. No touchbacks. The Cards only got 3 PR yards all game long. Did a great job with hang time and ball control.
HENERY - 1 of 1 on FGs. Short kick. Only 1 of his 5 KOs was a touchback. That hasn’t been the case most of the year. Something to keep an eye on going forward.
KOR – Boyking returned 2 KOs. Long went for 32 yds. Brad Smith was the KOR early in the 2nd half. Ran one out for 31 yards in the 3rd Qtr. Good return.
PR – DeSean was the PR. 3-11. Not inspiring numbers. But…had a TD called back due to penalty. Looked great on that. Had another return where he moved back and then sideways. Took a big hit on that. Must go N-S.
– MISC –
* Punt bounced off Cards player in the early 2nd Qtr. Carmichael was there to recover it, but couldn’t secure the ball. A Cardinal finally did get it and ran 15 yards. Kurt Coleman chased him and knocked the ball loose, but replay showed the guy’s knee was down so the ball stayed with Arizona.
* The penalty on DJax’s return had to be on Colt Anderson. He got tangled up with #37 and the guy hit the field. Looked like a tackle at first. Good call. That guy would have had a chance to make the play.
* Colt did a good job of covering punts.
* Kurt Coleman had a pair of coverage tackles and was active all day.