Arizona Cardinals mid-season report card

Nov 9, 2011, 4:21 PM | Updated: 10:18 pm

We’re halfway through the 2011 season and the Arizona
Cardinals find themselves with a 2-6 record. Some things
have gone right for the team but, honestly, more has gone
wrong. What does it add up to? Let’s hand out a report

Vince Marotta Adam Green
QB Kevin Kolb is still
feeling out his new surroundings and hasn’t been awful,
but hasn’t been what the Cardinals envisioned either.
He’s 23rd in the league in passer rating and is 1-6 as a
starting quarterback, and struggled to get the ball to the
team’s best weapon. D
Kevin Kolb has not been
as good as most people hoped or expected, but he hasn’t
been awful. Can his struggles be attributed to learning a
new system, new teammates and a bad offensive line?
Probably, but the Cardinals expect more — they need more.
WR Fitzgerald has been great, when they’ve actually
thrown to him. His targets are down 17 (2.1 per game)
from a year ago. Early Doucet has been serviceable, and
Andre Roberts has been a disappointment. C
Tough group to judge because of struggles everywhere
else. Fitz has been great, Doucet solid and Robers non-
existent. The group has made some plays when given the
chance, though, so it’s tough to really fault them. C+
RB Beanie Wells has been
very good this season, when he’s been in the lineup. He’s
been very steady, and has minimized his fumbling problem.
Alfonso Smith has been decent when called into duty while
Chester Taylor has done nothing to dispel rumors that he’s
finished, but then again, he’s only had 15 touches so far
this season. Unfortunately, injuries have had a part in
limiting LaRod Stephens-Howling to just 15 touches on
offense, a number that needs to increase greatly in the
2nd half of the season. B-
The Cardinals needed
Beanie Wells to step up this season and, when on the
field, he has done just that. 526 yards and 7 TDs puts
Wells on pace for an excellent season, provided his knee
doesn’t hold him back much. Chester Taylor and Alfonso
Smith have provided nothing as backups, and LaRod
Stephens-Howling’s role should be increased. B-
TE There’s been much more emphasis put on the tight ends
this season, and the group of Todd Heap, Jeff King, Rob
Housler and Jim Dray has been a big improvement over
Cardinal tight ends years past. This year’s tight ends
have accounted for 36 catches already…last year’s group
had just 25. Now if they could just stay healthy. C+
One of the more intriguing groups on the team, Todd
Heap, Rob Housler, Jeff King and Jim Dray have all done a
good job. Heap, though, can’t get back on the field, and
Housler has had a couple of big play chances ruined by
poor throws. The pass-catching TEs have caught passes, the
blockers have blocked. B+
OL The Cards have allowed
27 quarterback sacks (4th most in the league) and that
doesn’t factor in the number of times Kolb has been
flushed out of the pocket, which hasn’t resulted in great
things. And the running game is ranked 26th in football,
although that number is deceiving since only five teams
have run more infrequently than the Cardinals. D-
The line has proven to
be effective in the running game but a disaster when the
team passes. Levi Brown and Brandon Keith have been awful,
Rex Hadnot and Daryn Colledge have been solid and Lyle
Sendlein has been steady. QBs have been getting killed and
the run game isn’t dominant. F+
OC Mike Miller is new on the job and there have been
growing pains to say the least. C-
This has left something to be desired, though it
appears Mike Miller is learning. Didn’t see any botched
screen pass attempts last week and we even saw Patrick
Peterson almost get some action on offense. D+
DL Calais Campbell has
quietly had an outstanding season, and leads the team with
5 sacks. Darnell Dockett has showed flashes here and
there, but hasn’t contributed consistently. Dan Williams
and rookie David Carter have been adequate on the nose.
This group has a ton of
talent yet seems to underachieve. I’m not going to blame
them. Calais Campbell has been a beast, Darnell Dockett is
playing out of position, Dan Williams has been solid and
David Carter, Vonnie Holliday and Nick Eason have been
good depth. The defense stinks but it’s not on them.
LB Daryl Washington has been great, and Paris Lenon is
always around the football, but the outside backers have
left a lot to be desired. Counted on to provide a pass
rush, Clark Haggans and Joey Porter have combined for 2.5
sacks. Since seeing his playing time increased, rookie
Sam Acho has three by himself. I’ll live with rookie
mistakes if it comes with play-making ability, and Acho
and O’Brien Schofield provide that. This grade would have
been much lower three weeks ago. C-
A 3-4 defense puts an emphasis on the linebackers to
make plays, and outside of Daryl Washington this group
just fails to do so. Joey Porter is washed up, Clark
Haggans is on his last legs and Paris Lenon, while solid,
is nothing special. Stewart Bradley has been a free agent
bust, but the team needs to get him going along with
youngsters O’Brien Schofield and Sam Acho. Those three
give this group a tiny glimmer of hope. D-
DB The Greg Toler injury
was a crushing blow to this team. Patrick Peterson has
shown improvement, but has also shown a propensity to draw
flags. A.J. Jefferson, pressed into starting duty, has
been a target of opposing quarterbacks all season long.
Richard Marshall as the nickel? Meh. At safety, Adrian
Wilson is starting to play more like the Adrian Wilson of
old, but he struggled in the first 5 or 6 games. Kerry
Rhodes is hurt and that’s given Rashad Johnson to show
that he’s a backup in the league at best. D
Cam Newton, Rex
Grossman, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger all torched
the Cardinals, and the group as a whole has failed to make
plays. Patrick Peterson is improving, though A.J.
Jefferson is regressing. Adrian Wilson, Richard Marshall
and Kerry Rhodes have had their struggles, though A-Dub is
showing signs of life. D+
DC New coordinator Ray Horton had people scratching their
heads back in preseason when he didn’t give rookie corner
Patrick Peterson a lot of reps against first stringers.
Then, Peterson started on opening day and (along with the
entire secondary) got torched by Cam Newton and Steve
Smith. The defense looks more organized than it did
earlier in the season, but they still rank 27th in yardage
against and 23rd in points allowed. D
The defense is not without talent, but it doesn’t have
an abundance. So, a smart coach would make use of what he
has and get the most out of them. Horton has failed to do
so. His system is not made for the players on the roster,
and while the team is trying to institute a big change it
is doing so at the expense of stopping teams. Horton put
too much in too quickly, and it set this team back. D-
ST While the kicking game
has been average, the return teams have been outstanding.
LaRod Stephens-Howling is 12th in the league in kickoff
returns and that Peterson kid has proven to be o.k. at
punt returning. The rookie out of LSU has 3 touchdowns
and averages 6.7 yards more per return than the 2nd place
returner (Javier Arenas of Kansas City). Peterson, as a
punt returner, is more responsible for the Cardinals’ two
wins than any single player on the team. B
Jay Feely got off to a
bad start but has been money since. Dave Zastudil hasn’t
cost the team. Patrick Peterson has won two games. If
there is any group that deserves props on this team, it’s
special teams. Sooner or later teams will stop kicking to
Peterson, but that’s fine. B+
HC It’s easy to like a coach when your team is winning
and he says the same exact thing in every press
conference and interview. It’s just as easy to get
frustrated by that same coach when he constantly spews the
same comments loss after loss. Say this about Ken
Whisenhunt, he’s consistent. But the heat is increasing
in Whisenhunt’s seat as the Cardinals are now 7-17 since
the beginning of the 2010 season. It’s hard to argue with
those results. (and I’m saying it’s one point better than
a ‘D’) C-
If a coach’s job is to put his players in position to
succeed, it appears Coach Whiz has failed. Kevin Kolb was
asked to do too much too soon, the team didn’t run early
in the season when they should have, and it took injuries
to finally get some young playmakers into the lineup on
defense. The Cardinals are 2-6 on the season and may
struggle to reach the five they won last season. D
Team The Cardinals are 2-6.
Yes, they should have a better record than that, as
they’ve only been beaten soundly by two of their first
eight opponents. But when you consider the issues at
quarterback, receiver, running back depth, pass rush,
linebacker and secondary, a ‘D’ is the best grade you can
give this team. D-
Early in the season it
was about the games the Cardinals “should have” won, as
leads slipped away in Washington and vs. the Giants. But
the team has not played well since then, having been blown
out by a poor Vikings team and getting crushed in the
second half at Baltimore. Is the win over the Rams a sign
of a turnaround? We’ll see, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Arizona Cardinals

Zach Pascal #3 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts against the San Francisco 49ers during the second ...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals agree to terms with WR Zach Pascal, QB David Blough

The Cardinals have agreed to terms with WR Zach Pascal and QB David Blough on a two- and one-year deal, respectively, the team announced.
20 hours ago
A general view as the Arizona Cardinals make their #1 overall draft pick during the first round of ...
Tyler Drake

Here is where the Cardinals own draft picks in 2023

The Arizona Cardinals have eight picks to work with this upcoming NFL Draft, five of their own and three compensatory selections.
20 hours ago
General manager Monti Ossenfort of the Arizona Cardinals answers a question from the media during a...
Arizona Sports

What is behind the Cardinals’ quiet start to free agency?

What should we make of Arizona's first week of free agency? Are the Cardinals setting up a rough 2023 season?
20 hours ago
Arizona Cardinals Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers looks on during the NFL football Game betw...
Tyler Drake

Holdovers providing Arizona Cardinals’ Jonathan Gannon familiarity in new role

Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon believes he has a good mix of new and old when it comes to his coaching staff.
2 days ago
Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. answers questions from the media during the NFL Scouting Combi...
Austin Scott

PFF has Cardinals getting defensive help in 3-round mock draft

With the NFL Draft in a few weeks, PFF revealed a mock draft for the first three rounds. For the Cardinals, defense is the theme.
4 days ago
Byron Murphy Jr. #7 of the Arizona Cardinals breaks up a pass intended for K.J. Osborn #17 of the M...
Tyler Drake

Ex-Cardinals CB Byron Murphy ‘grateful’ to join Vikings’ culture

Former Arizona Cardinals CB Byron Murphy is blessed to join the Minnesota Vikings' ranks following four seasons in the desert.
4 days ago
Arizona Cardinals mid-season report card