Four games into the 2014 season, the Arizona Cardinals have faced one of the most difficult schedules in the league.
Their first four matchups are a combined 13-6 so far this season, with all of the teams over .500 after Week 5.
Still, the Cardinals have managed to grind out victories in most of these tough games, playing through three different quarterbacks and a seemingly endless string of defensive injuries. Arizona is currently 3-1 and is tied with the Seattle Seahawks for first place in the NFC West.
As the Cardinals prepare for 12 more games of NFL madness, lets take a look at some of their numbers from the first quarter of the season:
Many teams have used multiple quarterbacks so far in the season and, thanks to injuries, the Cardinals are on their third man behind center. But after Logan Thomas’ 81-yard touchdown pass to Andre Ellington on Sunday, the Cardinals are the only team this season to have three different players throw a touchdown pass.
Field position is a crucial and underrated aspect for winning football games, and the Cardinals likely thought this would be an issue after Dave Zastudil went down with an injury. Enter Drew Butler, who is averaging 47.9 yards per punt this season, which ranks fifth in the NFL.
Andre Ellington has a receiving touchdown. Rookie wide receiver John Brown has three. Backup running back Stepfan Taylor even has a catch for a score. But despite being targeted a combined 57 times, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd have not been able to find their way into the end zone this season.
Injuries have decimated the Cardinals defense, and although the unit has still been able to remain a force this year, the pass rush has taken a major blow. The team has four sacks through its first four games, and is only taking down the quarterback 2.5 percent of the time that opposing teams drop back to pass.
Defensive back Jerraud Powers entered his sixth season with a career high of two interceptions in a season. After just four games in 2014, and only three that he started, Powers has tied his career-high with two interceptions and will have 12 more games to set a new mark for himself.
Regardless of the outcome, these Bruce Arians-coached Cardinals maintain their discipline and composure, especially compared to the teams that they are playing. The Cardinals have been called for only 20 penalties this year for 145 yards, while their opponents have more than doubled that number with 291 yards on 31 penalties.
It’s understandable that when it takes three quarterbacks to play through four games, there is going to be some dropoff in offensive rhythm and accuracy. But still, the Cardinals quarterbacks have struggled mightily with stringing together completions, earning a 51.5 completion percentage and ranking dead last in the NFL.
Arizona’s rushing offense was expected to impress in 2014, with running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Andre Ellington creating a thunder and lightning combination out of the backfield. Instead, Dwyer was indefinitely suspended after Week 2, and running lanes have not opened for Ellington and the other backs, with the team averaging 3.5 yards per carry, which ranks 27th in the NFL.
As difficult as it has been for Arizona’s running backs to find room, it has been much harder for their opposition. The Cardinals’ defense is surrendering just 3 yards per carry and 76.8 yards per game to opposing teams, respectively ranked third and fifth in each category in the NFL.