New era notes: Cleaning up negative plays among top priorities for Cardinals offense

Sep 12, 2023, 6:30 PM

TEMPE — The Arizona Cardinals’ offense left a lot to be desired in the team’s season-opening loss against the Washington Commanders on Sunday.

From the inability to score a touchdown to quarterback Joshua Dobbs’ ball security issues, there is a lot to improve upon before the New York Giants come to town in Week 2 at State Farm Stadium.

But above the biggest issues that must be cleaned up is the amount of times the Cardinals offense was forced backwards.

Throughout a winnable 20-16 loss to the Commanders, the Cardinals were brought down behind the line of scrimmage 14 out of the team’s 62 offensive snaps.

For a Cardinals team rolling out a quarterback still new to his surroundings under a first-time offensive coordinator, those types of plays can truly be the difference in games.

“One of the things that kind of made it hard on us were those negative plays,” OC Drew Petzing said Tuesday. “I think just trying to correct that and find ways from a schematic standpoint to put guys in better positions to be successful and certainly focus on the execution, as well, as we go into next week.”

Being able to limit those negative plays would also in concert likely lead to much more manageable third-down tries.

Of the offense’s 14 conversion attempts, only three times did it the Cardinals have a third-and-5 or fewer yards, with Arizona converting all three for first downs. The only other successful attempt came from seven yards out.

On the flip side, Arizona had nine tries of eight yards or more.

Regardless of who you’re rolling out there at quarterback, that’s tough sledding for any offense.

There is a clear path out of those situations, though, and it starts with putting your best foot forward in early down situations.

“The success on first and second down is a big part of the plan,” Petzing said. “It’s got to be a focus for us as an offense, as a staff as we move forward into this week. Definitely going to emphasize that.”

Knew what they were getting

Among the bright spots defensively for the Cardinals on Sunday was the play from safety K’Von Wallace, who was quick to make an impact behind seven tackles (second among Cardinals defenders) and a team-leading two passes defensed.

Claimed off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 30, the safety didn’t have a ton of time on task before seeing 50 defensive snaps (70% of available reps) come his way in the Week 1 loss.

And while he surprised a whole lot in his Cardinals debut, it was more of a matter of when he would make an impact, not if, in the eyes of defensive coordinator Nick Rallis based on their time together in Philadelphia just a season ago.

“We knew with the familiarity with K’Von that he was eventually going to play a big role for us,” Rallis said Tuesday. “He did a great job getting here and getting caught up to speed fast. It was only a week or so. He did a great job of working on his own and studying that playbook.

“Obviously, there’s some familiarity that helped him, but getting himself ready to play and he knows he has to keep getting more familiar with some of the stuff that we have … and keep improving on what he did on Sunday.”

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