Cardinals Expose Achilles' Heel in St. Louis

Cardinals expose Achilles' heel in St. Louis

10/5/12 in NFL   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Blog Photo - Cardinals Expose Achilles' Heel in St. LouisI was getting the feeling this past week that the Cardinals were becoming a bit overrated. After all, if it weren't for a dropped touchdown pass and a missed field goal, they would have started 0-2. However, I thought they were much better than they played Thursday night against the Rams. I ended up picking pretty much the opposite outcome of what actually happened, with the Cardinals winning by 14. Up against a defense that ranked towards the bottom of the league in run defense, I thought the Cardinals would finally be able to get their rushing attack going and could feed off that to make plays through the air. However, they instead showed me that they have one of the most glaring soft spots in the league.

The Cardinals' offensive line was disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful. As a neutral fan watching the game, I actually started laughing at some of the unbelievable mistakes they made. It was comical. I know that their line got dominated by the Dolphins, but most of that damage came at the hands of Cameron Wake - an elite pass rusher - so I just chalked that up to him having a good game rather than the Cardinals being terrible. Only sacked three times by the Eagles' exceptional pass rush the week before, twice by the Patriots in Week 2, and once by the Seahawks in Week 1, I thought that made sense. Boy, was I wrong.

The linemen weren't only blocking poorly, but their communication was atrocious. There was one particular third down in which the Rams only sent three pass rushers - the three down linemen. Despite the Cardinals having a five on three advantage, rookie fourth round pick Bobby Massie ended up on the right edge blocking Chris Long one on one. Long made his way to quarterback Kevin Kolb who eventually escaped his grasp, but how could a team possibly allow Massie vs Long one on one when there are only three pass rushers? Massie will lose that matchup every time and should never be put in that situation unless it's absolutely necessary.
October 4, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (94) celebrates after sacking Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated Arizona 17-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
The Rams finished with nine sacks, led by Robert Quinn's three. People are going to want to blame Kolb in large part for this loss. Granted, there were several deep balls that he should have completed and didn't, but it's nearly impossible to put together a good performance when you're being slammed into the turf almost every time you drop back. If this was Jay Cutler he would have ran these linemen right out of the stadium.

It wasn't just the passing game where the line struggled, it was the run game as well. I knew the Cardinals' rushing attack was sub par, but I expected them get more than 45 yards against what was the league's 26th ranked run defense. Ryan Williams has talent when he gets into open space, but there was no space for him all night. Williams was hit by multiple defenders on or behind the line on almost every play. It doesn't matter who your running back is - if your offensive line blocks that poorly, you won't be able to run the ball.

The Cardinals host Buffalo in Week 6, when they'll have to find some way to block Mario Williams. If they can't figure out away to help these patchwork offensive tackles, it's going to be another long, long day for Kevin Kolb.
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