From the Armchair: Arizona Cardinals, Week 2
The Cardinals offense had several issues that nearly cost them the game, including Larry Fitzgerald being inactive for most of the game due to a hamstring injury caused during practice. The offense was unable to convert their first 8 3rd down opportunities. Palmer had 22 completions of 39 attempts for 248 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 pick six to DeAndre Levy. His stats paled in comparison to Stafford who had 2 more completions in 3 less attempts and 30 more passing yards than Palmer. Arizona's second-string QB Drew Stanton, who originally played for the Lions, was not given the opportunity to play against his former team, when doing so may have been an effective strategy for an aging Palmer to get some rest.
Rashard Mendenhall had a combined 94 yards with the game winning touchdown in the final 2 minutes of the game, and proved that he could carry the running game that this team has been in need of improvement for during the past few seasons. Sixth round draft pick Andre Ellington had his first career touchdown on a 36 yard pass from Palmer, and is proving himself of his "draft steal” hype after many analysts predicted he would be taken in the first 3 rounds. Receiver Michael Floyd dropped many critical passes and was standing outside of the end zone on 2 touchdown passes; he's displaying signs that he isn't a worthy counterpart to Larry Fitzgerald. The Cardinals offensive line, minus injured first round pick rookie Jonathon Cooper, was clearly no match for Detroit's up-and-coming defensive unit, including threats Ndamukong Suh and rookie Ziggy Ansah, who managed to stop the Cards in their tracks throughout the game, despite Nick Fairley being out of the game. The win is mostly credited to kicker Jay Feely who kicked 4 field goals throughout the game, including a 47 yarder.
The defensive unit came together, but not very efficiently to stop the Lions' offensive game. Patrick Peterson was burned by Calvin Johnson twice on 2 touchdowns during the first half. Karlos Dansby did not portray his usual abilities and missed an interception that would've prevented a Detroit score. The biggest standout on the defensive side was rookie Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu, who made a vital stop on Detroit’s' 4th down, to prevent them from scoring the game winning touchdown. Clearly this team is in need of a few pieces to attain during next year’s draft as well as motivational positive reinforcement from their defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
If the Cardinals want to continue winning more games, they have several issues to address, including Palmer working the pocket under pressure and the offensive line stopping the defensive end attack. This team still needs to develop chemistry amongst its valuable players and work together as a team to ensure all strategic plays are comprehended at the same level. Over a period of time, this team could function into a playoff contender in a few seasons from now.